Category : Mazal Kennel News
By William Given
You do not need to have been showing dogs very long to have been afforded the opportunity to learn that some dog lose. Some dogs lose as frequently as they win. Some dogs lose far more often than they win. Dogs lose for a whole host of reasons. I am going to give you just ten of them, some very valid and some contrived, but all are real. If you have not been on the receiving end of a hard loss, so much the better.
1. You suffer from kennel blindness. Kennel blindness is as equally tragic and debilitating for the one dog owner as it is for a large breeder. It makes one incapable of seeing the faults in his or her dogs, and unable to recognize and appreciate the positive traits in a competitor’s dogs. Kennel blindness also provides the motivation for an individual to contort the breed Standard to fit the type of dogs they exhibit in the show ring. So, it is entirely possible that your dog really is not all that good, maybe just a bit better than average. You see only his magnificent head. The judge cannot help but notice his short neck, weak back, cow hocks and restricted movement. If you enjoy winning more than you like losing, your best bet is to get a much better dog.
2. Your dog has no showmanship. This is quite probably the most common reason why very well-put-together dogs lose. You have to remember that a dog show is really a canine beauty pageant. Yes, the Standard is the written illustration the judge uses to select those dogs of noticeable quality deserving recognition, but it is a show. It is a very good thing if a dog can show he enjoys what he is doing in the ring. I have seen many average dogs finish because they possessed that special something inside them that made them want to show off, and their owners and handlers used it to their advantage. Hopefully, you can find a way to peak his desire. The dog with showmanship is the one in control in the show ring.
3. Your dog may be the victim of presentation malpractice. This may be limited to one or more of the following: improper grooming, inadequate conditioning, insufficient training for the ring or poor handling. Different breeds have different grooming requirements and different conditioning needs. Most judges have reasonable expectations with respect to ring training often giving great leeway to young dogs. A good dog can easily get lost in the ring as a result of poor handling. All dogs have individual needs when it comes to handling, for example: some need to be shown on a very loose lead and some on a tight lead. Some dogs show with more energy for their owners, some show better for a professional handler, and some dogs give their best effort when a junior is on the other end of the lead.
4. Your dog is well-put-together and is structurally sound, BUT unfortunately, there is simply nothing that is exceptional about him, he possesses no single trait that could be considered as truly outstanding. Good is not always good enough. I liken this to the grade C+. An AKC championship title, Best of Breed or Group win, rarely if ever, is awarded to a C+ dog. My mentor’s belief, as it relates to judging dogs, is “If better is possible, good is not enough.” It is quite reasonable to assume this is a mind-set shared by many judges. Your dog may eventually finish, he may not. If he does, more than likely, it will be under a non-breeder judge.
5. Your dog is a good representative of the breed, BUT the other dogs in his class are better. Are you eligible to compete in a class other than the open class? Consider entering the Novice or American-Bred classes. They are seldom used and if your dog places first in the class, he gets a ticket to the Winners class. Are you willing to travel to shows where the competition is weaker? If you search thoroughly, you may be able to find a geographic area where the breed entries are high and the overall quality is low. The result might just be an unexpected major. If you have been assured by knowledgeable and reliable associates that your dog is of sufficient quality to finish, keep showing him. The competition and the judges change with relative frequency; he will win and earn his championship eventually.
6. The judge is looking for one specific thing, and your dog just does not have it. In most cases, it is the perfect head, certainly you have heard of “head hunters.” However, it could just as easily be a perfect coat, a solid topline, length of hock or reach and drive. Hopefully, this example illustrates my point. So, maybe your dog’s coat is not perfect, your dog simply will never win under this judge. However, your dog is well-constructed and very sound. Another judge pictures your dog easily spending the afternoon herding a flock of sheep, scenting birds across an open field, or tirelessly running game to ground. Fortunately, under this judge your dog has the “right stuff” necessary to win Best of Breed.
7. Your dog may just be the wrong type for the judge. The crux for the evaluation of all purebred dogs is breed type. For any given breed the nature of breed type is a particular or amalgam of features unique to that individual breed. Some breed Standards are more plainly written and are therefore more easily understood and less open to interpretation. Some judges have a natural eye for dogs and some judges have a stronger knowledge of canine form and function. Judging is subjective, that is why the appraisal of dogs by different judges so very often yields different results. Watch what type different judges put up. This way you will have a much better idea what each judge prefers, type-wise. Non-breeder judges may not be fully familiar with your breed’s Standard, may not have a great deal of hands-on experience going over your breed, and may actually favor a faulty dog in one aspect or another.
8. Your breed judge did not believe your dog would go on to do well in the Group Ring. This is a nauseating and infuriating reason and it is grossly unjust. In this situation, the judge is selecting his or her Best of Breed, hoping it will go on to win Group 1 and, possibly, Best in Show. The judge that does this is seeking some type of peering recognition or acknowledgement by senior judges who are much more experienced and have attained a high level of respect after their years in the game. I have been physically present when a breed judge would tell the Group judge, “I am sending you a really good (fill in the blank) deserving serious consideration in your Group.” If and when it happens to you, try not to let it get you down. It should not happen at all, and I wish I could say it does not happen very often.
9. So, your dog won Best of Breed but failed to receive anything remotely resembling consideration in the Group Ring. The most common reason for this is soundness, especially as it relates to movement. Your dog likely won Best of Breed because he possessed an outstanding feature or features that could not be ignored and the judge felt it appropriate to reward that quality with the win. However, the Group judge may expect that all of the dogs advancing to the Group possess correct breed type, so he or she may focus their judging efforts on movement. Remember, the Group ring is noticeably larger and exhibitors tend to move their dogs faster than in a smaller ring. The Group judge will eliminate those dogs that display faults such as overreaching, restricted reach and drive, sidewinding or crabbing, weaving or crossing over, paddling, moving wide in front, or moving wide behind.
. A couple of weeks later, at his next show and under a different judge, your dog has taken another Best of Breed. But once again, he did not even rate a glance in the Group ring. The other common reason for this same outcome takes us back to his lack of showmanship. Our dogs must possess the “Wow” factor and carry it into the Group ring; it is an essential element of success at that level. You have to try harder to find something to ignite a spark inside your dog. However, you are now convinced that your dog is a respectable representative of the breed. He won Best of Breed because he was the best dog in the breed ring, despite his lack of flash. If there is a good amount of time between showing in breed and the Group, next time, return him to his crate. Let him rest and relax, then see what you can do to hype him up for the Group competition. Consider this, if your dog went Best of Breed over an entry of just plain ol’ average dogs, then you have a good idea why he was not even looked at in the Group. Go back and re-read reason number one.
I prefer not to call it “being dumped,” but good dogs do lose. On any given weekend the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch from Saturday’s show will not even place in their class on Sunday. The dog or handler may be a bit off their game, a different judge might just be looking for something different or have a different interpretation of the Standard. He or she might just as easily have limited hands-on experience with a given breed.
A good dog, shown well and with consistency by a handler with a plan to achieve victory should win a majority of the time. In the long run, judges really do reward the better dogs. Their reputations depend on it. I would like to encourage you not to give up on your dog until you have tried everything, but you must try everything the correct way.
Thank you for learning with me.