Judges of the 2014 Westminster Dog Show

Read all about the Group and Best in Show judges of the 2014 Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

January 22, 2014

Westminster Kennel Club

The 138th Westminster Kennel Club dog show will be held February 10-11, 2014. Judging for the dog show will take place in two different venues. Breeds and varieties in the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups will be benched and judged at Piers 92/94 during the day on Monday, with Group competition that evening at Madison Square Garden. On Tuesday, breeds and varieties in the Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups will be benched and judged at the Piers, and judging of those Groups will take place on Tuesday night at the Garden. Judging of Junior Showmanship, Best in Show, featuring all seven of the Group winners, will be held Tuesday evening at the Garden in the final event of the show.

Make sure to read all about the 2014 Westminster Kennel Club dog show and its judges before the big event!

Judging Best in Show at Westminster 2014

Betty Regina Leininger
Frisco, Texas

Judge Betty Regina Leininger
Photo John Ashbey

Ms. Betty Regina Leininger began her experience in purebred dogs with the breeding and exhibiting of German Shepherd Dogs in her native home of Newfoundland, Canada. After a career as a paralegal, she moved to the United States in 1970 and became an AKC-licensed professional handler.

She managed the show careers of many top-winning dogs and guided the breeding programs of many of her show dog clients. After a highly successful career as a multi-breed handler, she became a judge in 1983. Today she is approved to judge all Working, Toy and Non-Sporting breeds, Pointers, Whippets, Junior Showmanship and Best in Show.

Ms. Leininger has judged multiple national specialties and Top 20 events, including the Doberman Pinscher Club of America and DPCA Top 20 on three occasions. Her judging has taken her to numerous countries in Asia, South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and her native Canada.

In the late 1970s, Ms. Leininger co-authored a book entitled Preparation and Presentation of the Show Dog under the name of Betty R. Brucker. She has conducted handling seminars throughout the continental US, Hawaii, Alaska and Canada.

She co-founded the Newfoundland (all-breed) Kennel Club in the mid-60s and has been active in many kennel clubs over the years. In 2012 Betty was nominated as "Judge of the Year," at the annual Purina Pro Plan® Winkie® Awards.

Ms. Leininger enjoys social ballroom and country and western dancing, playing bridge and relaxing with her Long Coat Chihuahua 'Beau.' She spends summers with her 94-year-old mother in St. John's, Newfoundland. She has one son, Geoffrey.

This is Betty's sixth assignment at Westminster. She judged the Non-Sporting Group in 2004 and the Working Group in 2012.


Judging the Sporting Group at Westminster 2014

Mr. Sam Houston McDonald
Chester Springs, Pa.

Judge Sam Houston McDonald
Photo courtesy Kerrin Winter-Churchill

Sam Houston McDonald has been involved with purebred dogs most of his life. After seeing the movie "Big Red" during his youth, nothing would satisfy him until he acquired his first Irish Setter and now, more than 46 years later, he continues to breed and exhibit them. He has bred numerous champions and owned several Group and Best in Show winners.

He is a past president of the Irish Setter Club of America and has served on the board for 25 years. He is a member of several all-breed clubs, including Bryn Mawr Kennel Club, where he currently serves as president and show chairman. He is also serving on the boards of the Irish Setter Club of America Foundation and the Dog Judges Association of America.

Mr. McDonald has authored a number of articles for a variety of publications, including a four-part series for the AKC Gazette, discussing the Sporting Group on "form as it relates to function." His judging experience, which began in 1986, has afforded him the opportunity to judge throughout the US and other countries.

Sam currently resides on his farm in Pennsylvania, raising his Irish Setters and Irish Wolfhounds. This is his second Westminster assignment.


Judging the Hound Group at Westminster 2014

Mr. Douglas Johnson
Bloomington, Ind.

Judge Douglas Johnson
Photo courtesy Doug Johnson

Douglas Johnson received his first Clumber Spaniel as a 15th birthday present from his parents, which has led to a lifetime dedication to the sport of purebred dogs. Breeding under the world-famous Clussexx banner, he has produced more than 100 champion Clumber Spaniels, Sussex Spaniels, Welsh Springer Spaniels, English Toy Spaniels and Pekingese. He has a passion for breeding dogs and continues to run a top breeding program today. His dogs have won more than 100 Best in Show awards and 12 national specialties across three breeds.

Mr. Johnson has produced two Westminster Best in Show winners and is the only breeder to have bred Westminster BIS winners in two different breeds: in 1996, the Clumber Spaniel Ch. Clussexx Country Sunrise ('Brady') and in 2009 the Sussex Spaniel Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee ('Stump'). Stump, at 10 years old, was the oldest dog to ever win BIS at Westminster.

Mr. Johnson was awarded American Kennel Club's Sporting Breeder of the Year award in 2005. He is a member of the Santa Barbara Kennel Club and the Bloomington (Ind.) Kennel Club, and is a lifetime member of the Clumber Spaniel Club of America.

This is his third Westminster assignment.


Judging the Working Group at Westminster 2014

Mr. Clay Coady
Paradise Valley Ariz.

Judge Clay Coady
Photo courtesy Westminster KC

Clay Coady competed in his first dog show at the age of 12 with his first purebred dog, a Samoyed named Snow. He didn't win, but it ignited a passion for the sport that still burns to this day. His career in dogs was blessed by the good fortune to work with the very best of people and dogs.

In his teens he worked for legends Ben Brown and, later, Larry Downey. In his 20s he set out on a successful professional handling career, and before it was over, he would handle some of the top-winning dogs of their time for some wonderful clients, finishing and specialing dogs in every Group.

Mr. Coady retired from handling in 1999 to focus on his business interests, including boarding kennels, veterinary clinics and pet supply businesses in the Phoenix area. He and his son, Ryan, also own nine Five Guys Burgers & Fries franchises in Oregon. He has been judging since 2001 and is presently approved to judge breeds in every Group, as well as the Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups, and Best in Show.

This is his third Westminster assignment.


Judging the Terrier Group at Westminster 2014

Mr. Bruce Schwartz
Los Angeles, Calif.

Judge Bruce Schwartz
Photo Larisa Hotchin

Bruce Schwartz began exhibiting Miniature Schnauzers in 1966. But it is as a breeder-exhibitor of Welsh Terriers that Mr. Schwartz is best known. His Ch. Anasazi Billy the Kid was the top-winning Welsh of all time and was the winner of 100 all-breed Best in Shows.

In total, Bruhil dogs have won nearly 150 all-breed Best in Shows, numerous national and regional specialties and Terrier Group shows. Two of the greatest Bruhil wins were BIS at the Montgomery County Kennel Club and the 100th-anniversary show of the Welsh Terrier Club of America, where the entry exceeded 100.

An AKC judge since 1984, Mr. Schwartz is approved to judge all Terriers and 10 Working breeds. He has judged at national specialties, the World Show and Sweden's Welsh Terrier specialty. He is active in the Welsh Terrier Club of America (treasurer, president, board member, rescue, judges' education), American Fox Terrier Club (AKC Delegate, show coordinator, board member) and Montgomery County Kennel Club (current president).

This is his second Westminster assignment.


Judging the Toy Group at Westminster 2014

Mrs. Keke Kahn
Sarasota, Fla.

Judge Keke Kahn
Photo Cathy Garcia

Keke Kahn has been in dogs her entire life, with a Boston Terrier, an ASCOB Cocker Spaniel, two German Shepherds — all trained in obedience — and a Pekingese helping her through her childhood years.

As an adult she discovered Lhasa Apsos, which became her life's passion. She bred and showed 58 champions under her Potala prefix, including six all-breed Best in Show winners and back-to-back Best in Shows by her homebred bitch at Lhasa Apso national specialties.

Mrs. Kahn started judging in 1972 and today is one of a handful of judges licensed for all breeds. This is her sixth judging assignment at the Garden. She previously judged the Toy Group in 2002 and 1987.



Judging the Non-Sporting Group at Westminster 2014

Ms. Virginia (Ginny) Lyne
Saanichton, B.C., Canada

Judge Virginia Lyne
Photo courtesy Westminster KC

Virginia Lyne grew up in many different countries, following her father who was involved in the oil business. She was born in Borneo and lived in Trinidad, Australia, Jamaica, Colombia and Texas.

After college and after a year in Great Britain, she came home with a black and white English Cocker Spaniel that became the foundation of Ranzfel English Cockers. Obedience attracted her initially, and she taught classes for many years. Breeding continued under the Ranzfel prefix with many champions and Best in Show winners being successful in both Canada and the US.

Ms. Lyne's life work was education. She retired in 1996 after 35 years in secondary school education, teaching English and working as a guidance counselor. Probably as a result of this background, she is committed to judges education and has been active in seminar presentations and judges training for many years.

In 1969, she started as a conformation dog judge with the Sporting breeds and is currently approved to judge all breeds in Canada. She is the past president of the Canadian Dog Judges Association and has served on several committees for the Canadian Kennel Club. She has judged in many countries and is very active in Canada and the US. This is her fifth Westminster assignment. She judged the Sporting Group in 2003.


Judging the Herding Group at Westminster 2014

Mr. Walter Sommerfelt
Lenoir City, Tenn.

Judge Walter Sommerfelt
Photo courtesy Westminster KC

Walter Sommerfelt has been involved in the sport of purebred dogs since acquiring his first Old English Sheepdog in 1972. He is a former professional handler, as well as a breeder and exhibitor of breeds in all seven Groups, most notably Vizslas, OES, Pointers, Bearded Collies and Weimaraners. Judging since 1985, he is approved for all Sporting, Working and Herding breeds and Groups, Junior Showmanship and Best in Show and has had the honor of judging on four different continents.

Mr. Sommerfelt was the founder and chairman for the St. Jude Showcase of Dogs from 1993 until 2009, a unique event showcasing the world of purebred dogs, while at the same time raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the world-renowned St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Along with his wife, Carol, he has bred more than 75 AKC champions, including Group, Best in Show and specialty winners, dual champions and multiple performance-titled dogs.

During the past 40 years Mr. Sommerfelt has been active in a number of dog clubs and is currently the president of the Tennessee Valley Kennel Club. He is also a career agent and financial planning specialist with Nationwide Insurance. The Sommerfelts have two grown children, both former Junior Handlers, and they are still active breeders and exhibitors of the Vizsla breed.

This is his second Westminster assignment.


Judging the Junior Showmanship FInals at Westminster 2014

Mr. Peter Kubacz
Jackson, N.J.

Judge Peter Kubacz
Photo courtesy Robert Young © AKC

Peter Kubacz has been involved in the dog world all of his life, traveling on the road with his parents since he was a baby. At the age of 10, he acquired his first Irish Setter and began to show in Junior Showmanship and conformation classes.

He was Top Junior Handler in 1999 and placed 2nd at Westminster that year. He qualified for Westminster every year of his Juniors career, making it to the finals three times. He also represented America at the World Show in Helsinki in 1998 and at Crufts in 2002. In 2000, he became the youngest person to handle the winner of Best of Breed at the Irish Setter National Specialty at the age of 16.

Graduating from Monmouth University in 2006, Mr. Kubacz currently runs his family's boarding kennel. Showing mostly Sporting and Hound breeds, he has won several Best in Shows on Irish Wolfhounds and Irish Setters during his professional handling career. He continues to breed Irish Setters with his mother and father under the Ramblin' Red banner, and has piloted several dogs to their championships and No. 1 rankings. This is his first Westminster assignment.

-More Westminster Dog Show News-


From the February 2014 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Purchase the February 2014 digital back issue with the DIR app or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine (print and digital versions).


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