Meet the Dog Judges: Charlotte Clem McGowan

A profile on AKC judge Charlotte Clem McGowan

In this recurring column we will profile some of our judges: their background, how they started, who their mentors were, which breeds they have been involved in, and their thoughts on how our sport can be improved.

Charlotte Clem McGowan

Charlotte Clem McGowan with Ch. Rorralore Ariella, her latest Papillon champion, in July, 2011. Photo Fritz Clark.

Charlotte Clem McGowan
Newton, Mass.
Currently AKC approved to judge all Sporting, Working, Terrier, Toy and Herding Dogs, Poodles and Juniors.

I started in dogs as a pre-teen, stewarding at shows and exhibiting a Shetland Sheepdog. I won tickets to a dog show in the fifth grade and have been going to shows ever since. That was in the late ’50s. I was invited to judge a lot of sanctioned matches from an early age and started as an AKC judge around 1969.

I had a number of mentors. In Shelties the ladies of Sea Isle, Mary Van Wagenen and Evelyn Davis, taught me so much about breeding, pedigree research and especially about the need for balance and exquisite detail in a dog.

I also spent a lot of time with Rachel Page Elliott and learned structure and movement as we watched films and filmed dogs. I like to think all this is reflected in wanting dogs to be balanced, well constructed and possessing beautiful type details as I judge. I also had Carole Neuhardt as a mentor when I started in Dandies and Mrs. Betty Kenworthy when I started in Papillons.

I have bred many Sheltie litters, a few litters of Dandie Dinmont Terriers, quite a few Papillon litters and one litter of Keeshonden. I have always been a hands-on breeder and love having puppies, raising, training and showing them. A couple of dogs were shown by handlers, but the majority I have shown myself. I think only two litters were co-bred. 

Of the dogs I have bred, the Shetland Sheepdog Ch. Rorralore Sportin’ Chance, CD ROM was such a wonderful representative of the breed. He won 28 specialties (most with entries over 100), three all-breed Bests, and the National in 1984.

Because I was getting a divorce, ‘Chance’ was handled by a variety of people when I couldn’t get to shows. He won BIS with three different handlers. Happily one of them was me. I also showed him to the national win. I had a lot of success with various Sheltie homebreds showing at a lot of specialties.

In Dandies, my Ch. Charlieshope Courant (bred by Carole Neuhardt) won the club brood bitch trophy. Her best offspring was Ch. Rorralore Au Contraire, BOW at Montgomery County back when there were quite a lot of Dandies.

In Papillons, I have 42 homebred champions to date. I have won specialties and twice AOM at the national with homebreds. Ch. Rorralore Dainos, SOM, was shown mostly by Pattie Proctor and was in the Top Five for three years, won nine Groups and several specialties. Ch. Rorralore Foolproof was RWD and Best Puppy at the national in 2010 and finished at the Patriot specialty. It’s hard showing dogs and judging.

I was never a professional handler. Most of the dogs I showed were homebreds, but I did have some nice wins with several I bought. I showed the Dandie, Courant, to BOB at the national specialty and Montgomery County, as an owner-groomer handler. I also showed Ch. Hatfield’s Stardust (Sheltie) to BIS at Riverhead in 1966. She was Chance’s great-grandmother.

I currently have only Papillons. I finished three homebred champions each of the last two years, and I am showing Foolproof to get the Grand title and maybe have some fun here and there.

The number of shows I judge per year varies. I try not to judge more than two weekends a month. I have judged in a few foreign countries, but really prefer the US and Canada. The main reason I would judge abroad would be to see more Papillons.

All-time favorite assignments include Dandies and Skye Terriers at Hatboro, Dandies at Montgomery, five Sheltie nationals, the Group at Westminster, Papillon Club of America, Papillon Canada and any show where there is really good competition and I can nit-pick.

All-time favorite dogs from the past? Mick, the Kerry Blue, was wonderful [Ch. Torum’s Scarf Michael — Ed.]. I loved Ch. Pennywise Gambit (Dandie) and Ch. Royal Tudor’s Wild As The Wind (Doberman). So many wonderful dogs — too many to list.

The biggest problem currently facing the sport of dogs is the animal-rights activists who attack the whole premise of our wonderful purebreds. We need to bring more young people into the sport and we need to teach them to respect the great traditions of the sport. We also need to be nicer to each other.


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