So you think you’re a dog show judge

16 Feb

Not that kind of dog show

It’s that time of year again kids, a time of year where “Check out the ass on that bitch,” as said around the water cooler doesn’t result in a sexual harassment suit, but rather has everyone rushing to their TV and/or computer to see which retriever they’re talking about. That’s right, it’s televised dog show season. (Westminster is on right now in case you hav been living under a rock somewhere). It’s that time of year where people who have literally never been to a dog show feel the need to tell everyone who actually have what they’re doing wrong and why and occasionally (and usually hilariously) how to fix it. Can we just say how exhausting this exercise is for all of us? Yes. Well, it’s really damn exhausting. So here as some things that are annoying and you can read them and also be annoyed or ashamed as the case may be.



1. Dog shows are many things, but they are not a beauty pageant.  Our ability to lecture will outlast your ability to keep saying stupid things so just go with it. Dog shows are intended to be (now repeat after us) an objective evaluation of breeding stock per their closeness to the breed standard. The reality is often something a bit different but beauty has very little to do with it (Have you ever seen a Bulldog… we’re not even sure mothers can love those faces). The Poodle didn’t win because it’s floofiest, it won because it’s a Poodle and Poodles are showy and it’s probably had more work put into their career than we collectively will put into ours ever.

2. Just because you own(ed) one doesn’t mean the dog in the ring is actually a particularly good example of their breed and therefore should win. It also doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a bad example of their breed and should never win anything ever. It just means they didn’t win, so we move on to the next show… except we can’t because it’s still on tv.

3. If the camera spends no time on a particular it’s because they’re not going to win. Why? Because they already know who wins because most shows (Westminster and recently the livestream of the AENC are the exceptions) were completed weeks ago. Spoiler alert, you can look up the results online. It’s really not that exciting. The actual camera work has nothing to do with the outcome. Their editing is the network equivalent of “Let’s wrap this crap up in as timely a manner as possible so we can air more football.” *masculine grunty noise*.


4. You don’t have to like the winning dogs. You don’t have to throw them a parade. You don’t need to bake them a congratulations cake, but no one likes a poor sport even if you’ve never actually been to a show in the first place and are just venting your spleen on the Cute N Fluffy Forum for Kids Who Can’t Spell Good.  Listing off why you think the winner is horrible in a public forum is likely a bad decision. Also a bad decision is visiting that website. This also applies to the clued-in. Foot-in-mouth syndrome is a bad thing. Honesty is nice and all, but you will have to interact with these people forever. A smile and a nod is often the best response to a gag reflex.


5. Dog shows are political? Say it ain’t so! Okay, yes dog showing can sometimes fairly be compared to the fiasco that is the presidential race, but the reality is that face time matters. Odds are good your showy friends who are tuned into dog shows can peg the group placers at a large event maybe 80% of the time. (TDS averages vary slightly but Fang is super-good at this game. Not to brag or anything because it’s kind of like being the best at horseshoes, fun at parties where you want to make people uncomfortable but usually not all that pertinent). Basically never bet on dog show results with people who actually go to show…

6. Pretty much everyone in the ring is a professional or has been doing it long enough to be a professional in every way but financial gain. People can and do make a living off this stuff. You probably can’t do it better, and if you could you’d be out there already.


7.  Finally, it’s only a dog show. Seriously guys, it’s just a dog show. There was a huge amount of upset over the Puli lady in her sweatsuit last year (It wasn’t the best choice in outfit but there are always extenuating circumstances and blah blah. This is our not caring face), and more again about how Poodles always win (Duh) and how it’s all a conspiracy because <non-dog person’s pet breed didn’t win>… erm sure.

Take the red or blue chill pill and get over it. The choice is yours.


So the moral of the story is, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show and try not to get too serious about it, unless you are actually in the show.  In that case, best of luck not tripping, choking on bait you keep in your mouth, or impaling yourself with a comb.


7 Responses to “So you think you’re a dog show judge”

  1. Jan Williams February 16, 2016 at 2:15 am #

    I have a dog show friend who goes to seminars showing her how to present her dog in the best light. Some of it involves cosmetic surgery and other procedures that cannot be passed on to the line.

    • Diane February 16, 2016 at 3:22 am #

      Cosmetic surgery and powder, and hairspray, and nose blackener, and, and . . . AKC rules say these things are not allowed and many a judge has seen a color on their hand that was not their hand, after going over a dog but it keeps being done, and nobody does anything about it. One year at my state’s Federation of Dog Clubs banquet I sat at a table with a bunch of poodle people and they told me how they use actual hairpieces and extensions on their dogs. I have to laugh when I’m at an outdoor dog show and it’s raining and all the foo-foo-ing gets washed right off the dogs. My breed is supposed to be a “natural” breed and really, the only foo-foo-ing that is done is stripping their coat, but we strip the hell out of it. At least in the U.S. we do.

      • zarzuellabooks February 16, 2016 at 11:17 am #

        Yeah, I’ve seen IWs in the ring looking like Extreme Schnauzers.

    • Kitten February 16, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

      It’s totally against the rules to have cosmetic surgery done on your dog, even something that is not necessarily cosmetic like fixing a bad tooth. Ethical breeders do NOT do that, they retire the dog and move on to their next candidate. It isn’t worth the time or money to campaign a dog that won’t win or can only win under false pretenses.

      I do wish the “moderate use of…” chalk was enforced…. you’d think the enormous chalk cloud some days would draw the attention of OSHA!!! I don’t have a problem with a minor amount of “make up”, though.

  2. Mellafabulous February 16, 2016 at 2:32 am #

    Not even going to lie about how disappointed I was, after doing a facebook search for ‘West-meme-ster’.

  3. Steven Litt February 16, 2016 at 11:20 pm #

    I enjoyed the new breeds that were in the Westminister show for the first time. The Spanish Water dog (?) was really interesting and cute. I always like the herding dogs. Sometime in the future, will you guys explain the German Shepard’s crazy back end. The American standard is so different than what I was used to in German bred dogs growing up and showing them in the 1960’s.

  4. TerrierGirl February 20, 2016 at 4:43 am #

    Watched the Westminster masters agility championship with average pet owners, and no, sorry, your yapping, middle aged, obese, not-even-house-trained min pin would not be ‘great at agility’ and better than the dogs on tv. STFU.

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