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Following close on the heels of an Australian judge,now qualified to judge internationally in her breed, after only judging a total of 25 dogs - some of which were bred by her, some owned by friends and so on.....I see Sweden has allowed a similar situation, in that the judge has judged, and in this case awarded top honours, to a dog bred by her and her husband.

Come on........what on earth has happened to ethics????  

In Australia, there seems to be more rules about the stewards not being allowed to show under judges, if there is a connection with a dog, but absolutely nothing against judging a dog bred by the judge officiating on the day.

Personally, I would think as a judge you would be stupid to judge one of your own breeding, because you are "damned if you do, and damned if you don't!"

I have spent many years training through the rigorous Australian system, obviously not afforded to those judges wanting to be single breed specific with their qualification, and have judged in Sweden on 11 occasions. I have enjoyed every show there, which have been so well run, with some superb dogs, and gracious exhibitors in all the breeds I have judged. For a country and Kennel Club of such high standing, I am disappointed that perhaps their ethics are slipping, as ours obviously have!


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It is a difficult one Myra for human nature dictates that you will always try to do what you can get away with.  If there is no rule against it then it will be done.  Until the Kennel Clubs of each country address these anomalies all exhibitors can do is vote with their feet and not go under judges who consistently put up dogs they have bred themselves.  There was a similar situation with a German judge only recently and that provoked much blogged criticism on ES. 

Many exhibitors work hard and spend years gainining there accreditations just to watch others with a fraction of their experience vaulting over them.  You are totally spot on Myra....it isn't right and it isn't fair.  Surely the credentials of this Australian judge would be set out on their Resume and if they do not comply with the criteria, and a total of 25 dogs hands-on hardly seems to fit the bill, they should not get invited???

In the UK dogs bred by the judge cannot be entered under that judge.  Dogs prepared, handled or boarded by the judge are not allowed to be entered for a period of 12 calendar months.  Dogs in partnership with the judge cannot be entered but there is no rule for dogs not in partnership but belonging to the other partner from being shown, and they often are.  So yes Myra....ethics have, in many instances, gone out of the window.  It is left to your own conscience to do what is right.

Why do canine societies invite judges with limited experience at the level being judged?  If you win the CC from such a judge  what kudos does it bring to that dog? I have not judged but am getting my head around the 'rules' here in the UK

I completely agree with you, Myra, and am reminded of a similar conversation I had with another friend recently about the same thing.  I wasn't aware that judges here could actually judge their own dogs, providing they were shown/owned by someone else...but I think the worst part was that, although I was appalled, I wasn't really surprised.  And what worries me about that is that perhaps we are so used to these type of things being allowed, that we have become complacent...or perhaps, more worryingly, too intimidated to speak out about the system at the risk of upsetting the "inner sanctum."


As an exhibitor, I would never put a judge in the position of having to judge their own dog, whether it is allowed or not.  I think those sort of tactics - and let's face it, what other reason would you do it other than to carry favour or guarantee yourself a win - are underhanded, and entirely unfair to the judge also.  As an exhibitor, you don't do yourself any favours by it, because people obviously DO talk, and even in a large showing community, people usually know why someone enters under someone, or wins, or loses, and those giving themselves an unfair advantage are not well looked-upon.


By the same token, I have also told friends who are aspiring to be judges that I won't show under them either.  Difficult, because I'd love to give them an entry and let them get their hands on my dogs in the ring.  But I think that whole "damned if you do, damned if you don't," situation applies there, too.  There is enough ring-side nattering about why so-and-so put such-and-such dog up without adding fuel to the gossip fire - and I have been digusted enough in the past, watching friends reward friends, (or worse, judges reward judges that might one day be judging THEIR dogs in return) that I would rather avoid the situation altogether.  Coming from such a small showing community here as we do, it's possible that sort of thing is amplified, but I'm sure it goes on everywhere. 


On the flip side of that, I have seen judges who haven't had their dogs put up by someone then dump their dogs next time they judge...so how you get around that petty side of human nature, I have no idea?  People can hold grudges for years - and usually do!  I have even had someone, who has been a judge for many years, tell me, "I nearly died when I examined [dog] to find the bite was completely overshot!  But still, it's one of the top dogs, so what could I do?"  They gave it BIG, and it then went on to win BIS, though obviously the specials judge had examined the bite too...  I have had another exhibitor tell me, "Well, [judge] knows that whichever dog I'm handling, that's the one I want them to put up."  That dog went on to win BOB and also BIG.


I have often wondered whether judging should be done by people who have nothing to do with dogs - who are formally trained and appointed and who do it as a living, judging to the standard and not to politics...  But of course that would never happened, and dog people would never go for it.  (Not least of which because they might not win so often lol and doG forbid...)


It is extremely hard here for Irish Setters, as you know.  With only 3 main exhibitors, and a very real split between types, trenches are quickly dug and everything becomes personal - whether people want it to, or not.  It is very difficult walking into - and at times walking OUT of the show ring, knowing you are hated and bitched about simply because you won/lost/have a different type...and when you hardly ever see a specialist, it makes the stakes that much higher when you do get someone who might actually know Irish, let alone gun dogs half the time!  And here, most judges who come who have had experience with Irish, have it with the other type...  Most of the time, showing just makes me sad and entirely fed-up...and I guess when you realise that the ethics of half those involved aren't the same as yours (or even the same as what they themselves profess), then you wonder why you bother.


I guess I worry about the knock-on effect to the breed in general of showing dogs to their breeder (and also the friends there-of).  Certain dogs get put up, whether they really are the best examples or not, and those dogs are then used by everyone at stud.  Then the next generation are put up because "they're the son of" and so on.  Is it in the best interest of the breed?  I think there have been enough examples of radical changes in type happening in only a few generations - and the negative repercussions of those - to keep ethically-minded exhibitors in check.  Pity it others don't see it the same way.

May I just respond to a point Melinda made about judging being done by people who have nothing to do with dogs but who are formally trained and who do it as a living.  I am sorry to say we already have this type of judge.  They are dispassionate, matter of fact, they don't give a toss about the breed and they soon get to know who the top breeders/exhibitors are and put them up anyway.  Dog shows started with a bunch of breed enthusiasts getting together in a field to compare their dogs.  No one can have a feel for a breed better than someone who loves it.  You take away the passion you may as well give up.

One one side you have the politics of dog judging, we all know it goes on, but then wherever there is competiion there will be politics.  One the other side we have the exhibitors who will find many reasons for a judge placing a specific dog and none of them to do with the judge actually liking the dog.........whereas in most cases that is the overriding factor.  Melinda mentions "the son of" syndrome.  This can be a dilemma for a judge, especially the owner of a prepotent stud dog.  If everyone else is putting up "the sons of" then would you expect that judge to dump them?  If you do not like your own dog's progeny then you should not allow him to be used.  The middle of the ring is a lonely place. 

Dog showing is a very social hobby.  We make many friends, mostly with other breeders/exhibitors who have a similar type of dog.  If we exclude them from showing under us then we will end up with no dogs entered at all.  We must be able to draw the line somewhere and be sensible about it.

In the UK we are lucky because we have a very active show season with championship shows most weekends so we can afford to pick and chose who we do or don't enter under.  I do appreciate in many countries others are not so lucky and it can become very frustrating.  We have regulations (see my previous comment) and the KC are looking to tighten these further by not allowing exhibitors to enter their own breed while their partner judges another breed at the same show.  

I do believe if the Kennel Clubs of each country bring in legislation not permitting dogs bred by the officiating judge to be entered and tighten up their criteria for licencing judges with minimum experience (25 dogs hands-on etc!!) much of the dissatisfaction could be eliminated.  As for the ethics, well that has to be self-regulating on both sides.  Hopefully then the judge would win and so would the exhibitors.

Eva, you say "If everyone else is putting up "the sons of" then would you expect that judge to dump them?"


Not sure if you directed your question specifically at me, but I guess I would answer - and perhaps I am clinging blindly to ideals here lol - that I would expect the judge to put up the BEST DOG ON THE DAY.  No matter who the sire is, and no matter who the popular winner happens to be at the time.  If the best dog on the day also happens to be "the son of," then great!  Put that dog up and be proud of doing so.  But prepotency shouldn't dictate who the weekly winner should be, in my book.  And I would never expect a judge to put up whoever happens to be winning the most, nor the progeny of, if they don't deserve it that day.


The issue to me is the "best dog on the day" is often decided by more than just the standard.  The best dog may well happen to be "the dog owned by my friend who will never speak to me again, and will dump my dogs forever if I don't give them the win."  That's where the problem lies, IMO.


I found your point interesting about those judging who have nothing to do with dogs.  We don't have that sort of thing here, so it's good to hear the down side of it, which I hadn't really considered.  So yes, I do certainly agree with you, and it was really only a fly-away comment on my part, after a few years being jaded by the system here.  You are so lucky to have the luxury of huge entries of Irish in your part of the world - more at most UK shows than we would have in the whole of Australia being shown.  We in WA call it a massive entry if there are more than 4...and a few years ago, a huge entry was more than 1!!  At most of your shows, you are showing under someone who does love and have a passion for the breed.  We are lucky if we are even showing under someone who has ever owned a gun dog, let alone an Irish Setter.  And then, if they have, they have invariably had experience only with the American-type lines, which are the most popular here.  Try showing your one and only dog for six years under the same judges over and over again, most of whom you know aren't even going to give you a chance, and see how quickly you start assessing the system lol  (Not having a go at you, btw, just trying to illustrate what it is like here, and why I made the comment I did.  Dispassionate objectivity starts to look appealing, sometimes LOL)  And also bear in mind that the usual entry for the WHOLE of group 3 where I live is around 120...and that's if it's a good entry.  An average entry is around, hmm, say 70?  For the WHOLE of group 3.


Our show community lives in each other's pockets, and people have long memories and bear grudges for ridiculous things.  Keeping anyone honest and ethical under these conditions is near impossible.  I'm not a judge (yet hehehe), but even I know that the pressure to judge here, and NOT look at certain people, is practically a death sentence to any further appointments.  As an aspiring judge, how can you get around that?  You want appointments, but the only way to get them is to give in to what you may not agree with on the day.


I already know who will and won't ever show under me, even though it will literally be years before I ever get to the point of stepping into a ring as a trainee judge.  Hell, I'll be lucky if I get 5 people entering under me in the whole group, and I can almost guarantee that Irish Setters will be few and far between!!  I will be - and have already been - judged more harshly than any dog I will ever put my hands on, and all because I show with the same people week after week, and they have opinions of me simply because they think they know what I will do.


That's what it's like here.  Ethics are a joyous bonus, but unfortunately, not the norm.

Melinda....you paint a very depressing picture.  It doesn't seem as though there is way forward.  Can it really be that bad?

You looked at my point about "the sons of" from a different angle.  Of course the best dog on the day should win the top award.  That is not what I meant. How many times do you hear exhibitors say "oh well it's by the judge's dog so no surprise there"  Exhibitors will say that even if it WAS the best dog on the day.  Would any one believe the judge's decision was an honest one?  I suspect not.....damned if you do and damned if you don't.  Should a judge be held to ransom on the opinion of exhibitors? 

I did say that we were very lucky in the UK and I do appreciate that there are those who are not so lucky.  It is a great shame.

Maybe ethics have gone out of the window because dog showing is becoming more and more expensive.  Maybe winning or getting to the top is directly in proportion to the financial outlay of showing dogs.  There is so much more to lose and as Pat says an obsessive drive to win.  I do think nowadays there is greater dissatisfaction in the game.  I do not know what the answer can be.     

This is why i don't go to shows annymore..

I learned that not only the dog is importend but the face behind it to ..

Now i organize walks for setters every month, much more fun and only happy people...

Frans.........it is not all doom and gloom.  We have an exhibitor at the moment who has been very successful in only 3 years of showing and has just won her first cc.  No one knew her face.  This has happened many times over the years.  You can get to the top with a good dog, no matter who you are. 

Setter walks are great fun.....we do them too AND show dogs!!!

Maybe I was to short in explaining .

It is not only that what i wrote ..the whole sphere is getting wurse among the years..

and for some are the costs to high for entering a show ..

It should be fun and affordable for all  people...and that is not the case anymore..




I would not show a dog under a judge who was that dog's breeder - but I would enter the dog but leave it at home.  That way I am showing support for the judge without placing them in an invidious position - & possibly embarrassment if they hadn't recognised the dog LOL!

We seldom have Gundog specialists, let alone Breed specialists - & I couldn't care less about getting a CC from (for example) a Peke specialist, & I'm not interested in becoming one of those "petrol champion" exhibitors who go to just about every show.  Consequently my CCs are few & far between LOL!


ETA:   After 40 odd years in "dog world" I find that ethics are like slippers - people take them off when they go outside!  It is a sad but true fact of showing that there will always be those who MUST win at all costs.  I actually feel rather sorry for them as they must have a very obsessional view on life.




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