Thu, 07/07/2022 - 10:33pm

The Fancy Speaks

Quality, Not Quantity

The June 10 Question of the Week ["Are you concerned by the increased number of judges approved to judge your breed?”] was certain to draw some interesting responses. The number of judges who adjudicate a specific breed is not nearly as concerning as their actual understanding of the breed in a manner that the parent club would prefer.

Checking off boxes, attending seminars, etc., is certainly required, but that does not mean that a specific judge truly understands. I did judges-education seminars for my breed for about seven or eight years. There were many attendees who were involved with the discussion, and you could tell they did not ever want to embarrass themselves in the ring nor do harm to the breed itself. There were also those who were there just to satisfy a requirement on their application. I have interrupted conversations among these individuals and have even woken some of them up.

Trust me, my seminars are not boring. Their personal agenda is to amass as many breeds as they can in order to garner more assignments. Truly understanding a breed in a manner which would be appropriate for them to judge is often not a priority.

The number of breeds for which individuals may now be approved in a single application will help fill the ranks of the aging judging demographic as these long-time judges retire from the ring. The AKC cannot avoid the cycle of life any more than any of us. 

I have also been in charge of the Breed Mentor Program for our parent club for about 15 years. When knowledgeable owners, breeders and handlers show under a judge who simply doesn’t understand the breed, there is a natural tendency to place blame on judges education and/or breed mentors. I have received phone calls from some top breeders in our breed with what could truly be described as horror stories. These were not the type of people who complain simply because they did not win. In fact, some of them actually won, but the comments made by the judge indicated that he or she had a lot of work to do in understanding our breed.

My position is that although we have those elite judges who could appropriately be approved for an entire group at a time, I know of few who could be approved for 20 or more breeds in one application and truly understand all of them. If I were still applying for additional breeds, I would include myself in that category as well.

The AKC can do little to change the mindset or personal agenda of judges who are applying for more breeds. If utilized properly, the criteria/prerequisites for an application are fine. We are, in fact, dealing with people, and that, in itself, covers a lot of ground.



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