A JUDGE’S RESPONSIBILITY TO THE BREED STANDARD
By E. M. Gilbert Jr.
The State of New York by Special Act of the legislature incorporated The American Kennel Club and granted it a Charter. This Charter in Section 2 describes the objects of the corporation “to adopt and enforce uniform rules regulating and governing dog shows … and to generally to do everything to advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of the purity of thoroughbred dogs.” The Charter also states that dogs are to be judged in accordance with the approved Breed Standard. Standards are written and approved by the membership of the Parent Club and submitted to the AKC Board of Directors for final approval. The AKC approved Standard is the only Standard by which the breed can be judged in AKC approved Shows.
When a person is approved to judge a breed, they in effect have made a contract with the Parent Club to uphold the approved Breed Standard. The AKC Guidelines for Conformation Dog Show Judges states: “As a judge, you must meet the following key criteria … Breed Knowledge … As Breed Standards are continually being revised, it is your responsibility to judge by the Standard currently in effect…” Further on it states: “If your decision depends on the exact wording of a Rule or Breed Standard, do not hesitate to refer to the Rules or to the Breed Standard.”
When a Standard is explicit and states: “Tail docked at approximately second joint, appears to be a continuation of the spine, and is carried only slightly above the horizontal when the dog is alert.” – that statement is quite clear as to what the Parent Club wants in their breed. Buying into the Green Party agenda – Animal Rights agenda – from Europe and placing an undocked dog in that breed at an AKC Show is unforgivable. A breed is to be judged in accordance with the Standard in effect in the country that the dog is being judged. The AKC Standard does not describe an undocked tail – is it a straight tail, squirrel tail, drooping tail, how long is it, how much coat does it have, is it smooth or feathered, etc.? Assuming that in all other aspects it is the “best dog in the ring”, then the first place ribbon should be withheld, with the statement – “Tail not in conformance to the breed Standard.” Personally this writer would excuse the exhibit - “Tail not in conformance to the breed Standard.”
Another Standard states: “Tail docked short, close to the body, leaving one or two tail vertebrae. The set of the tail is more important than length. Properly set, it gives an impression of elongation of topline; carried slightly above horizontal when the dog is excited or moving.” Note the context of set of tail versus length of a tail docked short. An undocked tail could provide quite an elongation of topline! Again the undocked tail is not described – only a docked tail is described. This is a docked breed and must be judged as such.
Some might say in both of the above cases that the Standard does not call for a disqualification or even list the natural or undocked tail a fault. But the general fault statement in both Standards does cover “description of the ideal…must be penalized to the extent of the deviation.” Both Standards are positive Standards which should lead to a positive assessment of the dog, they are not fault based Standards which lead to fault judging.
Another situation is in regard to color. A Standard states: “The colours are silver fawn, apricot fawn, or black.” How can a brindle dog qualify as a member of the breed with a statement as clear as that?
When a person wants their house painted and signs a contract with the painter that the house shall be painted red and then goes on vacation – they would expect to find their house painted red upon their return. If when they return from vacation they find the house painted green – are they going to pay the painting contractor? After all the contractor said: “Hey, you did not say I could not paint it green.” I would say that painting contractor is in deep yogurt not only with the owner but the State licensing Board!
A judge has, in effect, signed a contract with the Parent Club to uphold the Standard of the breed. That is the Judge’s Breed Standard Responsibility.