Advertising Faults and What's a Dog Show Judge Worth?

Inaccuracies in Dog Advertising and Determining the Value of a Dog Show Judge, from Success in Show Dogs, July 2011

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Continued from part 1

Four Horsemen of the purebred dog’s demise
Arrogance, indifference, ignorance and jealousy.

How much is a judge worth?
There’s no doubt about it — many of our show-giving clubs, particularly those attracting entries under 1,000 dogs, are finding the cost of staying financially solvent increasingly difficult. Sadly we are bound to see the individuality of the single club give way to the constantly growing cluster system of multiple shows sponsored by two or more clubs on a weekend.

The resulting negatives and positives are fodder for another column, but what I have found is evermore increasing resentment among some clubs toward dog show judges and the fees they charge. I find it interesting that there are those who seem to believe that it is judging fees and expenses that carry much of the blame for single clubs becoming unable to meet the financial obligations of putting on a championship show — that it is somehow unfair of one dog show judge to charge more than another to pass upon the same number of dogs in a given day.

Basically this implies that all judges are of the same background, experience, knowledge and qualification — presumably that the man or woman who has judged all breeds many years throughout the world is no more qualified to charge a higher fee than someone who has just been approved to judge their first Group.

In my mind this would be no different than saying all professional handlers are equally talented despite what their résumé reads or that all puppies in a litter should command the same price despite their varying degrees of quality simply because they are all the same breed.

I wonder how many have stopped to consider the time and money an individual has invested in purebred dogs before he or she has become eligible to even judge that first breed. Or how much he or she will subsequently spend becoming eligible to judge two, three or four Groups, much less achieving all-breed status?

Most individuals who judge today fully accept the fact that it will cost them a minimum of $10,000 to fulfill the obligations required to acquire eligibility to judge a single Group.

There are those among us who believe that all any judge does is render an opinion and therefore one opinion is just as valid and worth only as much as the next. I suppose this may be true if an exhibitor shows dogs purely and simply for an opinion and cares not whether the best dogs have an advantage over the lesser dogs. It would seem to me that the opinion of the judge who has a long-standing reputation for consistently recognizing the best dogs of a breed is worth more than the opinion of an individual whose decisions are erratic at best.

Some dog show judges charge substantially more than others. Their decision one can only assume is based upon what they believe to be their own experience and ability. It does not seem that an inexperienced or unqualified individual charging an unusually high fee would judge very often; that is unless the person responsible for hiring judges made their selections based only upon how much a dog show judge could judge for them and not how well.

And when it comes to complaints about judges’ expenses I can’t help but wonder at the fact that when I began judging here in the US in 1994 the average per diem charge made by a judge was $35 a day. Today, 17 years later, the average per diem paid by clubs is $35 per day. One would think that in 17 years the cost of food alone might have risen just a bit.

But what has always made me scratch my head is the fact that there are no rules that demand that any one dog show judge in particular be hired to judge any show. If a judge’s fee is more than a club can afford, it would seem that instead of becoming hysterical and accusing said judge of highway robbery the club would calmly move on to the judge that they were able to afford.

One doesn’t demand that Tom Ford go out of business because we cannot afford to have him personally come to our home to design something for us to wear. We simply shop within our means.


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