Judges Weigh in on Grooming

Judges discuss the most common grooming errors they find in the ring.

By Allan Reznik | April 26, 2013

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Judge examining teeth
One of the most common grooming mistakes that judges see is unclean teeth.

With so many judges actively participating in social media, we decided to poll them on an issue they must address at every show: What are the most common grooming errors you find in the ring?

1. NICOLAS DE BEDOUT SKNAR: Unclean teeth, long nails and smelly hands for the judges.

2. RICHARD EICHHORN: Over-sculpting and excessive use of grooming products.

3. PATRICIA GILBERT: Filthy teeth on a dog, especially when it is a full-dentition breed, make me cringe. Long toenails bother me, and generally a dirty dog is insulting to all involved. I don't get too many of them. People know I was a groomer.

4. KERRIE KUPER: Nails! Cut them.

5. ERIC LIEBES: I see two general sets of problems: (a) Ignoring breed-specific grooming as described in the standard or by convention, and (b) overgrooming every breed by blowing and back brushing.

6. BONNIE LINNELL CLARKE: Overuse of product, teasing, spraying. Rat's nests on Shih Tzu.; sculpted curly coat on PWDs so they have Kerry Blue necks and Bichon heads; painted masks on Danes and Boxers; way too much of everything on all coated breeds. I didn't sign on to be a grooming judge. Fix it in the whelping box, not in the tack box.

7. KATHY LORENTZEN: Overtrimming of most Sporting dogs! Straight lines cut on furnishings, topcoats cut off and, on Golden Retrievers specifically, blown-out open coats that would never shed water. There is little regard for the requirements of the breed standards in Sporting breeds anymore.

8. BUTCH MACDONALD: My biggest complaint is too much product and not enough soap and water! Too many dogs are shown dirty or with too much product to make them look clean.

9. JOHNNY SHOEMAKER: I am finding many dogs — and even my own breed, Poodles — with dirty and rotten teeth. That I do not like. I am also finding some dogs' coats that have not been washed for months ... unacceptable for me.

10. CHRISTIE SMITH: Overuse of product and trimming on dogs when the standard says trimming shall be penalized or even disqualified.

11. BETTY-ANNE STENMARK: Inappropriate grooming for the breed. For instance, the fluffed and puffed Golden Retriever, the PBGV exhibitor who thinks untrimmed means unwashed or the Bedlington scissored into a wheelback.

12. RANDY TINCHER: Going to a show? Wash your dog and trim its nails for starters.



Click on one of the photos below to learn about the grooming and presentation trends that have occurred over the years in that group.

Sporting Group Grooming

The Sporting Group

Hound Group Grooming

The Hound Group

Working Group Grooming

The Working Group

Terrier Group Grooming

The Terrier Group

Toy and Non-Sporting Groups Grooming

The Toy and Non-Sporting Groups

Herding Group Grooming

The Herding Group



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Give us your opinion Give us your opinion on Judges Weigh in on Grooming

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Arlene   Dickerson, Maryland

2/18/2014 5:54:40 AM

if you feel the dogs are over-groomed or shouldn't be anything but washed, brushed out and NATURAL as per standard (ie Cavaliers) why do they get put up?

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Ang   Owego, New York

2/17/2014 11:24:09 PM

It amazes me how pro handlers win no matter what the dog looks like. It's the handler that is winning, not the dog. It discourages entries and makes people very discouraged. Pro handlers almost always over groom (IMHO) and when they consistently win no matter how bad the dog is, it puts a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Judges are to blame for this and can stop it at any time. Oh how I wish they would judge the DOG on its own merits based on the standard.

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Sharon   Caledon, International

2/17/2014 9:24:25 AM

I have to wonder why poodles weren't mentioned in the above. NO breed uses more substances (hair spray) than any other breed, not to mention all the hairpieces in the top knots. Its too bad that those in the Non Sporting group don't play on a level playing field!

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G   International

2/17/2014 8:50:34 AM

It is not uncommon for a professional handler to beat an owner handler and with the most poofed dogs. What is worse is put that same dog up with the owner and go against it and we don't even see a placement. The handler has a lot to do with a win. They can do NO WRONG, maybe not take the judge to dinner?

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