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Dog show judges. They're bullshitting really, no?

(11 Posts)
Haffdonga Sat 12-Mar-16 21:20:41

Don't get me wrong. I love dogs and like a bit of Crufts but really how can a judge actually objectively compare a group of dogs of all different breeds and say one is better than another.

Yes, if you have a ring full of corgis, for example, you can say this corgi is a better example of the breed than that corgi. Or this corgi has a better coat or looks happier than that corgi. But when you are comparing a corgi with a dachsund with a dalmation with a pug with a cocker spaniel and each of those dogs has already been selected as the very best example of their breed and are in tip top physical condition, then it's like comparing apples with socks with Wednesdays, all good in their own way but just ...incomparable.

AIBU to think that the judges really just make it up as they go along and while they're looking so carefully at all those dog teeth they are really counting eeny, meeny, miney, mo ... ?

(And AIBU to believe that it's really a big conspiracy that noone will ever challenge because they're all afraid that their precious pooch will never get a rosette ever again if they do/)

Owllady Sat 12-Mar-16 21:23:00

I'm a bit bemused by all these German dogs coming over here and taking our dogs jobs wink

dancemom Sat 12-Mar-16 21:27:23

It's like Miss World - pitting a blonde curvy German against a brunette short Australian against a tall American red head..... grin

SqueakyChicken Sat 12-Mar-16 21:30:21

Not to sound like I'm taking this too seriously but that's not quite how they judge. It's more, that corgi is a better example of its breed than that bullmastiff is of its breed. They are still judging the breeds against their own breed standards.

TeamSteady Sun 13-Mar-16 15:40:41

In theory you are comparing each dog to it's breed standard- the blurb written by each breeds breed club/the KC. So the blurb is the ideal. In addition to that, there is some leeway in how a judge (or anyone in fact) interprets the text.... which can take you onto a whole new debate about exaggerations in the breed... in addition to that, some judges prefer one interpretation of the text than another... so you've got all of that going on in each breed.

When it gets to group or BIS judging, then the theory is that each dog is still being judged against it's breed standard, i.e. the written blurb of the ideal labrador, or whippet etc. So the judge is never comparing the corgi to the pug, he is looking at how close is THIS corgi to the IDEAL corgi, etc etc and the one who is closest to the ideal wins (with the provisos above). Equally, although i would be very surprised at crufts level but at say open shows, you may have a judge that prefers one type of dog over another, e.g. has a thing for gun dogs but less keen on terriers. Now if the terrier is a much better example, closer to the standard than the gundog then it won't (shouldn't) matter at all. If he thinks both dogs are of equal merit then maybe he would give it to the type he preferred.

Ultimately, each time you have your dog judged it is only that persons opinion, on that particular day, compared to the other dogs you are with. So often you will do well under one judge and get binned with another if your dog doesn't match up with that judges interpretation of the breed.

However.... when you take your beloved pooch, who is the apple of your eye and in your mind absolutely perfect, the pinnacle of his breed, and the judge bins you straight away, then absolutely, they were just playing eeny meeny miney mo!! grin

Haffdonga Sun 13-Mar-16 16:04:09

Is there any moderation process so that the rogue gundog loving judge gets sussed?

JohnCusacksWife Sun 13-Mar-16 17:30:23

The sooner they ditch the beauty pageant aspect of Crufts the better. It's hideous. I'd far rather watch the agility, or fly ball or heel work to music than see some poor overbred dog being hauled round the ring.

TeamSteady Sun 13-Mar-16 20:20:31

poor overbred dod being hauled round the ring? hmm

Most "show dogs" are much loved family pets, that have every sort of luxury lifestyle that a well looked after pet should have. Most enjoy a good day out. Certainly mine do- whats not to like??- lots of people to meet and who make a fuss of you, lots of extra special treats, somewhere new to see, lots of interesting sights and sounds. If you're an outgoing gundog breed as mine are, it is a pretty good way to spend your time!! Equally, many dogs who are shown also do other activities. Eg many gun dogs also do a bit of gun dog work, indeed the top accolade of Champion, rather than Show Champion requires the dog to demonstrate that s/he can do the job they were bred for as well as being an excellent example of the breed according to the breed standard. I know several breeders who also let their dogs dabble in agility- obviously not top level etc but a bit of fun for handler and dog. My DS12 does once a week agility classes in the summer with DDOG1.

i'm sure there are "bad" owners who show their dogs, just as there are bad "pet" owners. And equally there are many breeds that IMO I wouldn't want to own based on exaggerations/ health concerns, but I think your comment was, in the main way OTT.

JohnCusacksWife Sun 13-Mar-16 20:28:58

We can agree to differ, Team. Breeding for conformation is a disgrace and has created breeds of dogs that now come with horrible health issues and why? Because some humans have decided on some arbitrary "ideals". I've been watching Crufts and have seen many dogs with their heads pulled up on slip leads by their handlers. Dogs manhandled and held by their heads and tails. There is absolutely no need for that in modern dog training and the sooner Crufts bans it the better.

TeamSteady Sun 13-Mar-16 20:42:33

Haffdonga, realistically i think it unlikely that it would happen to a great extent tbh... to get to the BIS stage, the dog will have had to beat all other dogs of his breed, then all other dogs of his group, so even at an open show that is a lot of dogs, a championship show can be thousands. So in theory they should all be excellent examples, and it is then down to how an individual interprets the breed standard, and personal preference. So the BIS line up should be excellent examples with no obvious faults and therefore personal opinion would to a certain extent come into play. By showing your dog you are asking for their personal opinion, and that is what they are giving. In most instances, by that stage there isn't a "right" answer.

In terms of breed classes, in championship shows (i.e. the big ones, where you can be awarded prizes that contribute to a dogs title, eg. Champion) then bitches and dogs are usually judged separately. (Certainly in mine and other popular and numerically strong breeds they are, but i don't know about rare or less popular breeds with fewer entries) The classes are arranged by age whilst the dogs are puppies and juniors, then by number of previous winnings. The unbeaten dogs, winner of each class, then re enter the ring for the best of breed. They are then judged against each other. The winner of that is then announced the best dog and the same for the bitches. Those two dogs then go head to head for Best of Breed. The dog judge and bitch judge have to decide together, and if they cannot reach a decision a referee is brought in to cast the deciding vote. The BOB then competes in the group- i.e. to be awarded best of his group whether that is gun dogs, terriers, toys etc. The winner of each group then competes for the title of best in show. So in that sense the moderation process is the two different judges agreeing or the referee agreeing that that particular dog is the best example of the breed.Then the dog being judged by the group judge, and then if they get through that stage they are in BIS- so they will have been judged by at least three others to get to BIS stage.

Some judges prefer different types to others, and that is fine. If everyone liked the same things then you would know the winner of a class before anyone stepped into the ring and the whole exercise would be pointless. Once you've been doing it a while you tend to learn which "type" a judge likes and therefore not enter under judges you know won't be keen on your dog.

TeamSteady Sun 13-Mar-16 21:18:15

We can agree to disagree John. smile

I am sure in some instances you are right, and certainly in some breeds a lot more than others. I can only comment on what i know (which is little, i only show my dogs on average once a month or so. I only have the two and I've only been doing it a few years on and off. I am friends with several people in my breed who have been doing it for donkeys years, and they have kindly shown me the ropes, but I think a lot of things vary from breed to breed).

The one thing I would say is that yes, some of the things people have bred for have buggered up some breeds to put it bluntly, e.g. squashed face breeds.

However, there are many things that are in the standard for practical, health related reasons, particularly in more moderate dogs. So for example, in a labrador you would like to see that the feet are: "Round, compact; well arched toes and well developed pads" This is because, long thin "hares feet" are inadequate for the work a lab was bred to do, and are more prone to injury over a long days work. On a similar vein, the hindquarters should be: "Well developed, not sloping to tail; well turned stifle. Hocks well let down, cowhocks highly undesirable"- Cow hocks are when the hocks turn inwards. If the dogs angulation is incorrect e.g. like cow hocks then they won't be able to power the dogs forward from behind, again he is more likely to injure himself if he is asked to work (or yeehaa around the local park for that matter). The slope of the shoulder is the same- enabling the dog to carry heavy game in the least tiring manner, with most of the weight carried in his shoulders rather than the mouth and neck. The waterproof double coat is required to keep him warm and dry whilst working in water (or wallowing in disgusting puddles, standing water or anything wet and smelly if you are my dogs). A labrador doing his original job would be at risk of getting chilled through without it.

In terms of handling, in our breed dogs are free standing in front of their handler on a loose lead. Most are moved on a loose lead so that you can show off their movement, which is best when you leave them to it (so long as you are not my puppy who generally is so thrilled that she boings around like a kangaroo blush)

Other breeds stack their dogs, so they are shown with handlers kneeling along side, guiding them into a stretched out position which that particular breed feels shows off their conformation. Now, of course it would be ridiculous to comment on every handler etc. What i know about this is just from what i have seen at local ring craft classes, where you practice show training. The dogs that I've seen being taught to stack are certainly not manhandled or held down. They are guided and taught, yes, but ultimately, do you think you are able to hold out a large gun dog, e.g. a setter when it doesn't want to? Maybe for a nano second before it squirms out of grasp, bounds off and you look like a complete idiot, and aside from any welfare issues no one is going to want to regularly make a fool of themselves in public. From what I've seen, which i appreciate is a tiny snap shot of dogs at two particular training classes, is that this position is taught like any other, ideally starting from being a puppy, using lots of praise and treats and making a big fuss when they get it right, doing it for just a few seconds several times a day and building up to holding the position in a calm and still manner for the ring. Which is pretty much exactly how I've taught my dogs to free stand, catching their attention when they are doing it right, making a huge fuss with praise and an extra special treat- hot dogs, and then when they've got the idea that i want them to stand square in front of me, ask for just a few seconds more each time, making out like they're the cleverest dogs to ever walk the earth when they get it right.

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