If you have read your own breed standard
you are well aware of the faults stated within, some variations may be
stated as minor or major. Flaws of course are most times never mentioned
within a standard, so I will attempt to give some examples of those
slight imperfections that sometimes judges find so offensive as to put
an exhibit out of contention. There are however, a few elusive examples
of circumstances within breed standards that guide us to proper
appraisal of a breed stating that a judge should or should not fault an
exhibit accordingly. Example #1 The Samoyed standard states “ A judge
should always see the tail over the back once when judging”. The
standard of the German Shorthaired Pointer states “A dog in hard and
lean condition is not to be penalized.” In most cases depending on the
breed these issues would not enter into your overall opinion of an
Here are some examples of flaws that I
feel should be of little or no consequence when viewing any high quality
animal. Some may be more breed specific than others. Please remember
every situation is unique and there is much gray area and subjectivity
in dog judging. These examples only apply where limitations are not
otherwise provided for within any given standard.
Scars or imperfections in the coat.
Sun fading or slight variations from
Light masked or excessive darkness of
A slight crook or bump in the tail
A light toenail or missing toenail.
Missing, crooked or recessed teeth.
(disqualification to some breeds, not mentioned in other standards.)
A stitch or small injury ( sore eye,
sore tail, or elbow bruised)
Performance related flaws:
Handling, where presentation is altered
by human error.
Stepping back off an examination,
especially while distracted or in young exhibits.
Performance lessened by silly behavior
of a youngster or even an adult so long as it is corrected for proper
appraisal of the exhibit.
Performance lessened due to
circumstances such as small rings and undesirable facilities.
There are so many other examples that
could be represented, but I think this gives one a general idea. One of
my mentors once said to me that it was my responsibility as a judge to
find the best dog and make sure that it ends up the winner. Making it
win meant when a situation arose where a slight performance flaw or
physical flaw occurred, not to throw the baby out with the bath water!
As judges it is our sole responsibility to find the best exhibit in
I often find myself giving
beginners small lessons in the ring to improve their dogs performance,
sometimes even the occasional “old timer” can benefit from a lesson or two. The
ideal scenario for handler and judge alike would to be presented with
the highest quality exhibit, perfectly trained and conditioned,
unfortunately that so very often is not the case for various reasons. I
do feel that while the quality and technical ability has risen in the
handling field, unfortunately the emphasis on the very purpose of the
dog show has fallen by the wayside, especially so in the young and
upcoming handlers. It is the judges sole responsibility to appraise a
breed with the eye of the breeder at all times. It’s the responsibility
of the handler to present the breed to best of his or her ability.
Sometimes circumstances arise where judges and handlers alike have to
alter their performances to fit any given situation. My advise to anyone
as a previous professional handler and breeder exhibitor, be aware of
the quality of your exhibit and know when you have the best dog and when
you do not. Understand when those minor variations in the competition
are truly all that separate them from being ideal, even with a little
helpful advise, they should always end up the winner.
Within our beloved breed we are gifted
with so very many talented breeder owner, professional handlers who
truly aspire to breed and exhibit only the finest specimen. Having
walked in those shoes for a very long time, I truly understand how
frustrating it can be. One hard lesson to learn was that a good
performance, good condition or a good handler does not make a good dog
it simply enhances the overall appearances. A good dog is easy to find,
but when the previously mentioned advantages are not up to par, as a
judge, certain adjustments might need to be made in order to perform the
job we are expected and committed to do. One can occasionally be fooled
by a superb handling job, but never should one be fooled or confused by
small imperfections and flaws. Even great dogs have flaws or even
faults! A quality judge knows the difference and rewards the dogs
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