TheJudgesPlace.com Exclusive Interview by Joan Weiskopf
Approved for: Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting Groups, Giant Schnauzer, Standard Schnauzer, Australian Shepherd, Border Collies, Bouviers des Flandres, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Collies, Miniature American Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Best In Show (BIS), Confirmation (Misc Breeds), Junior Showmanship (All Breeds), and Provisional Herding Group as of April 4th, 2017.
Mr. Kirkland has finished many Miniature Schnauzers, including group and specialty winners, and has owned a multi-group- and BIS-winning Sealyham Terrier. Recently, in partnership with Stephen Roman, he has bred champion Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Japanese Chin under the Rokirk prefix.
In 1994, Mr. Kirkland was approved to judge Standard and Miniature Schnauzers, Sealyham Terriers, and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers and is now approved to judge all terriers and toys, Bulldogs, Poodles, the working Schnauzers, Junior Showmanship, and Best in Show. He has judged the national specialties of Cairn Terriers, Welsh Terriers, and all three Schnauzer breeds. He has also been awarded green stars in Ireland and championship tickets in England.
Mr. Kirkland is a longtime member of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club and the New Brunswick Kennel Club and has served both clubs in key roles. For many years he served as judges' education coordinator for the American Miniature Schnauzer Club and is now one of their approved presenters. He also serves as corresponding Secretary of the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club.
In which judged activity did you first compete? Obedience, Conformation, or Performance?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Conformation
About when was that and with what breed?
DAVID KIRKLAND: 1973 Miniature Schnauzer
Did you owner handle or have you always used handlers?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Owner/handler.
Do you have other dogs now and if so, what breed?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Cavalier King Charles and Japanese Chins although we're not breeding Chins any longer. We're still breeding Cavaliers and my original breed which as I said, was Miniature Schnauzers. I owner handled them but then I turned professional in that I was a specialty handler of that breed, much as there are specialty handlers in poodles or cockers.
Do you own other animals? If so what?
DAVID KIRKLAND: A few breeds of cats and specifically now Cornish Rex. I showed her to her Grand Champion title and a Best Cat In Show.
Which do you feel is more important in a breeding program, the dog or the bitch? Why?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Bitches because that is what seemed to be superior in the line I was breeding.
When considering a breeding, which do you look at first, pedigree or physical virtues?
DAVID KIRKLAND: I was breeding one specific line of Mini-Schnauzers and always was able to look for and find a match within that family.
What is the single most important physical characteristic you look for in a dog?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Breed type specific to the standard of that breed. What I might look for in a Peke would be different than what I would look for in a Toy Fox Terrier. They have different structure and requirements.
In what field are/were you employed outside of dogs?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Pharmaceuticals, I worked for Glaxo-Smith Kline for 27 years.
About how long have you been judging?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Since 1994.
How many breeds or groups are you currently approved for?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Terriers, Toys, Standard and Giant Schnauzers, Bulldogs, Poodles JR. show and BIS.
Do you plan to apply for more breeds/groups?
DAVID KIRKLAND: I may continue with the non-sporting group and also herding group.
Which breed (or group) do you personally enjoy doing the most?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Of course I enjoy every breed that I am approved to do because why would I judge them if I didn't enjoy them? If I had to say, probably Cavaliers and Schnauzers even a tab bit more because I know so much more about them. I know so many more of the nuances of breed type because I bred them for so many years. They are very dear to my heart, those two breeds. I think the closer you are to something, the more passionate you are about doing it.
What is the most annoying thing exhibitors do?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Running a dog when it is not appropriate for the breed.
What is the most important thing exhibitors should do in your ring?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Follow instructions.
Do you usually fly or drive to your assignments? Which do you prefer?
DAVID KIRKLAND: I prefer driving and fly albeit an unpleasant necessity.
Have you judged in another country, if so, where and which breeds?
DAVID KIRKLAND: England, Schnauzers, and Ireland.
Have you judged for another registry, if so, which one and which breeds?
What is the most inconsiderate thing a kennel club can do to its judges?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Leave a judge at the airport.
What is the nicest thing a kennel club can do for the judges?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Most clubs are more than hospitable.
What do you look at first when you turn to assess a class or group?
DAVID KIRKLAND: I send them around looking at type and movement. What you look at first is very dependant on how you structure your ring and since I bring them in and send them around first, that ends up being what I look at first. Side movement and how they hold their type in side movement, and then what I usually do is go down the line and look. And one of the things that hits you first is head type. You naturally start in the front of the dog and work towards the rear so the first thing that hits you is head type.
Do you evaluate puppies as puppies or as adults when selecting winners?
DAVID KIRKLAND: You have to evaluate them as puppies because that's what they are. You have to judge them as they are on that day and if they still conform to the breed standard, they can win. If not, then they have to go home and grow up and come back and win when they do conform. In that regard, toy breeds may have a slight advantage because they generally mature quicker.
What do you look for in judging breed as opposed to judging the group?
DAVID KIRKLAND: I always look for the same thing, I judge the dogs to their standards.
What advice would you give aspiring judges?
DAVID KIRKLAND: Be prepared for lots of paperwork and keep good records.
What was your most memorable judging experience?
DAVID KIRKLAND: I am most proud of the fact that I have judged the National for all 3 Schnauzers, Minis, Standards, and Giants.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview for our readers. Click to email David Kirkland