Dog Show Judges Overlooked for Overseas Assignments

American Dog Show Judges Often Passed Over for International Assignments


Continued from Part 1

“You ought to write about that,” said another friend, a multi-Group judge, who was upset to find that US judges are frequently passed over for the plum assignments at overseas shows these days. Take this issue’s “World in Review” reports, for instance. The Best-in-Show judges come from all over the world: Belarus, Finland, Canada, Brazil, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Slovenia, Australia, Thailand, South Africa… There’s just one single American on the list: Frank Sabella judged BIS at a dog show in Argentina.

Actually, I have written about this before, but I’m not sure anyone takes it seriously. Yet it’s a trend that’s become obvious in the last few years and is seriously undermining the status of AKC judges overseas. The reason is that foreign dog show organizers naturally prefer to select a Best-in-Show judge who is approved by his or her own kennel club to judge all breeds, and AKC produces fewer “all-rounder” judges than almost any other kennel club.

To have as many judges approved for all breeds, per capita, as other countries, we would need more than 500 such judges in the US. Yet the 2011 AKC Judges Directory lists just 22 individuals approved to judge all dog breeds. That’s from a population of over 300 million and at least 3,000 AKC judges. Canada at last count had 123 such judges; Australia, with 22.5 million inhabitants, has at least 250; some FCI countries have even more. 

The only dog judges who fare worse than Americans overseas are the British. They have the biggest dog shows in the world, and their Kennel Club is even more conservative than AKC in approving all-breed status. However, they are addressing the situation with a “Judges Development Programme,” where suitable candidates are fast-tracked to multi-Group approval. That system has its critics, too, but at least the British are trying to do something about the problem. As far as I know, AKC is not.

There’s no good solution. Very few people are qualified to judge all breeds, yet someone needs to determine Best in Show. AKC solves this dilemma by allowing single-Group judges to award BIS, with the predictable result that the judge may not, in fact, be approved for all the breeds competing under him (or her) in the finale.

What can be done? Should AKC simply confer instant all-breed status on a few hundred well-qualified individuals in order to catch up with the rest of the world and make sure US judges have the same opportunities as their foreign colleagues? I really don’t think that would work, but I don’t have a better suggestion. Do you?


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