Friday, September 22, 2017

Showtime -- Judges

We're still putting on a dog show! So are you following along? We've secured a date and location and have formed the Show Committee. Whew. Now for another toughie: finding judges.

I discussed what it takes to become an AKC show judge here. It’s not an easy thing to do. Each judge starts out with a specific breed. It’s most likely a breed that he/she has been showing and breeding for decades. Later, judges may work to have other breeds added to their “approved list.” However, a judge’s primary breed is always known, and they are highly sought after for specialty shows (like ours).

Ideally, a club starts soliciting judges a year or more out. We had less than nine months and we need two of them. It’s stressful. Besides finding GSD judges -- not judges that also judges GSDs -- we're looking for judges who are available, attractive and affordable.


The AKC puts limits on how often a judge can judge. A judge cannot judge the same breed at two shows held within 30 days and 200 straight-line miles of each other.

The AKC also restricts who a judge can judge. He/she cannot judge:
  • A dog that the judge or his/her immediate family members owns.
  • A dog that the judge or his/her immediate family members has owned, handled in the ring more than twice, sold or boarded within one year prior to the show.
  • A dog or the owner of a dog for which the judge has provided handling and presentation instructions classes within one year of the show.
  • A dog being shown by professional handlers that the judge or his/her immediate family members have used within the four months of the show.
  • Anyone or a dog belonging to anyone who may give the impression of an unfair advantage, including relatives, employees, employers, co-owners and traveling companion.
The dog world is smaller than you'd think. We shared our potential judges list with club members and asked for possible conflicts. Several of our prospects were disqualified because of relationships they had with club members.


The 2017 AKC Show Manual says that “The judges panel is one of the most important factors to consider when planning an event.” Like it or not, judges bring (or repel) participants. Things to keep in mind when looking at judges:
  • What can they judge? For a specialty show like ours, we want a German shepherd judge. However, an all breed show would want someone who can judge multiple breeds. Even more desirable, would be someone who could judge groups or Best in Show.
  • Reputation. Does a judge focus on movement? Is he rough while inspecting the bite? Does she prefer typey dogs? Professional handlers and veteran fanciers know these things and will avoid showing to judges they think won't give their dogs a fair chance. I have a DNS (do not show) list.
  • Newness. Handlers don't want to show to the same judges all the time. Since a dog has to earn majors under two separate judges to make champion, there's no point for a dog to be shown to a judge that is already given it a major.

Each judge’s contract is different. Some judges charge a flat fee, some charge per dog and others want expenses only. Those expenses often include air fare, a hotel room, ground transportation (mileage or rental car) and a couple meals.

Ideally, a club would bring in well respected judges from out of state to maximize interest. However, that can be expensive. And there's no guarantee that there will be enough entries to cover the cost. Our club had a bad year in 2015 and lost $800 on the show. We're still feeling the effects from that show!

Who knew finding judges would be so complicated? Not me! It's stressed me out big time, but I've got good news. RK was able to secure our number one and number two choices. Both judges live within driving distance; one is in Georgia and the other has a winter home in Florida. Both judges asked for expenses only. Even better, they know each other, like each other and were thrilled to hear who was judging. Whew. How's that for good fortune? We have a little time to breathe until the next big step -- The Premium.

More later, but for now I need to relax!-- K 

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