QUESTION FOR ALL SHOWSIGHT READERS
Do you ever ask Judges for post show feedback if your dog didn’t place?
Thank you to everyone who offered opinions on this month’s topic. The following is a selection of the responses. Want to voice your opinion to the fancy? Follow ShowSight’s Facebook page for the monthly question prompt!
One time, as a novice. My puppy bitch won the first day and placed fourth the next day. The judge asked how old she was I said six months. She said I will win plenty when she grows up! Since then I let the ribbons do the talking.
I don’t ask. But I’m always grateful and appreciative of any feedback a judge offers—no matter how we did on the ring. —Susan Palius
When as a new exhibitor I did. I quickly learned to ignore their explanations when this occurred at the same show. I had the only Pap Special entered and I asked the breed judge if he had any comments. He promptly said this dog is way too fat, needs to be on a diet.
So I went back to my family and said Joli needs to go on a diet guys, no treats. He also was in the Toy Group with a different judge. Obviously, for a zillion reasons. he wasn’t placed. So, I asked that judge later if he had any suggestions for my dog and he promptly said he is too thin needs more substance feed him a little more, nice dog. So I went back to the family and said forget it they don’t know what to say.
Years later as a judge, I know how it goes. You’ve gone over a number of dogs in a breed and later someone comes up, usually sans dog, and asks my opinion. Sometimes I faked it but later I say I liked the others better, nice dog.
—Arlene A. Czech
No, I do not. I was told you may not ask. Do not understand why not. It would be good to get feedback.
In obedience we are encouraged to go ask the judge where we lost points and why. Should be the same in conformation if interested. —Anonymous
I was told you should never ask! —Anonymous
I would love to be able to ask and get feedback. I also show in AKC obedience and you can always ask a judge where and why you lost points. —Anonymous
Yes, at UKC shows where that practice is encouraged, but not at AKC shows where the approach to judging seems
more formal. I really prefer the UKC shows but they are rarely held in Central Indiana. Therefore, I show more at AKC shows. —Bob Schaible
Yes I do on rare occasion. One judge spent 30 minutes with me talking about my breed and my dog in particular. It was very helpful. —Anonymous
I have been showing Bassets, Bloodhounds, Black and Tans and Blueticks since 1964; I am a UKC and AKC Judge! If I don’t place (or win) I just smile at all the pro-handlers as I leave the ring. —James A. Zarifis
In over 30 years of showing I have only asked that question once and that was very recent. The judge could not remember the class or the dogs within the class. We did have an interesting conversation ringside while observing another ring but the questions about my dog specifically were
unanswered. —Cindy Knox
Yes, and sometimes when I do place. I always try to see my dogs through others eyes so their opinions are important. As a breeder-owner-handler I have taken on the responsibility of preserving my breed by keeping the standard in mind at all times. As I assess litters, as I watch at ringside, as I read others stories/opinions, and see photos, I am always using the standard as the ultimate “measuring stick”. A judges opinion, when given as a critique, can be very useful.
Yes, I’m always curious to hear their personal interpretation of the breed standard. —Anonymous
No, for the most part it annoys them and you never know when you might have to show under them again. If I am inclined to ask it would only be from a breeder/judge. Too many judges today are not as familiar with the breed as they should be. —Anonymous
I have done this several times when I felt that the judge was not really familiar with my Brussels Griffon dogs. I have been showing dogs since 1987 and now retired.
I did when I first started showing and got a few off the wall answers which I knew, even at that stage in showing, were not viable. Some made comments on areas of the dog I knew were good and confirmed by other knowledgeable dog people. I have been tempted at times, but no longer ask. I would love to see something implemented like they have at rabbit shows where the judge starts with the lowest placing rabbit and gives reasons for their placement. I know this would take longer, but with shows having less entries, it would probably last just as long as a bigger show. —Anonymous
Good question. I think in the 48 years of showing dogs I have never asked a judge why he or she didn’t put up a dog I was showing. Now if a judge would ask me questions about a dog I was showing then we would discuss that dog. Sometimes the owner of a dog we are showing will ask if they should ask the judge why they didn’t put up their dog but it is my feeling that the judge has given us their opinion on that dog so why ask. —Bruce Schultz
Once in a while I am interested in what a judge thinks of my dog. I do not make my own comments. I believe “you pay the judge for his opinion on the day of the show, you got it” if you don’t like it, move on. There are lots of shows and lots of judges. —Anonymous
Yes, I have. While I usually ask a judge’s feedback during casual conversation over a win picture, I have also asked a few for feedback when they “dumped” my dog. This is trickier because 1) many judges aren’t comfortable giving negative feedback; 2) you must be prepared for whatever you may hear and accept it graciously; and 3) it’s harder to find time to have a conversation with a busy judge if you’re not waiting in line together at the photographer’s stand.
Some things that help: I ask in a very humble way, assuring the judge up-front that I highly value their opinion (this may or may not be true; but I fake it). Then, regardless what they say, I thank them, smile and walk away. I do not argue, cry or get angry.
Then you need to ask yourself what you’ll do with the information. Sometimes this feedback can give you valuable information about your dog. Sometimes, it tells you more about the judge. For example, I once asked a judge what he thought of my bitch, who he placed third out of three in her class (the previous day, she’d won the major). He said, “A Beagle is supposed to be square. She’s not square.” That told me the judge did not understand our breed standard, and that in the future I should only bring him a very compact, short-backed Beagle (even if that dog wasn’t a “correct” Beagle).
I do wish more judges would feel comfortable giving honest answers to this question. As exhibitors, we need to be more accepting of feedback, both good and bad.
Only twice in the past (37 years of showing) have I asked the judges, “So, on what was the factor you based your final decision?” That question came only after I politely and respectfully introduced myself with a brief history of being an official designated mentor of the Collie breed for CCA.
I’ve also, in a very respectful way said, “If you have any interest, I’d be happy to discuss the Collie breed with you.” —L. Jeszewski
No, I have found that Judges that do not really know the Anatolian Shepherd Dog just say things like, “Well that was the best dog” or some other generic statement. Judges that do know our breed, which are few and far between, can give a detailed reason for their choices. With a good Judge you can typically see a common thread to their selections.
Perhaps if I felt the other exhibits were of equal quality to mine. I would definitely ask if the quality was not a adequate representative of the breed and reflective of the breed
When I first began showing dogs, I occasionally would ask a judge what it was about my dog they didn’t like, but not any more. I found they usually would state the best thing/s about my dog and not what I knew needed improvement.
No, I never feel that I’d be getting an honest answer. I did only once and learned my lesson. Asked the Judge what he liked about the winner’s dog versus my dog; he answered he liked the other dogs’ “swagger”. Well a “swagger” is not a movement you want in my breed. I never entered under
him again. —Judi Basto
I used to ask for judges feedback, especially when I definitely had the nicer dog but I don’t ask anymore, realizing that I was either outhandled, had the lesser dog or there was a political agenda. —Anonymous
This was several years ago. I was an owner handler with a dog that would go to a four day show and come in second every day with four different dogs taking first (that came in third, fourth or didn’t place the other days.) It seemed I had a dog the judges like but could never get the win. So I approached one Judge very politely, after she had completed all her judging for the day. I made sure I articulated my respect for her as a judge and the decision she made, I didn’t want her to think it was sour grapes—which it wasn’t, I just wanted some feedback. The judge flew off the handle and chewed me out for daring to approach her or question her decision. I’ve never approached a judge again. —Anonymous
I have in the past, but the answers were generic, such as “the other dog asked for it” no actual critique. The judges did not seem to know enough about the characteristics of my breed to discuss them. I do not bother any more.
I used to occasionally if I really had a question in my mind but some judges need to be warned that the person asking may not be totally inexperienced or a moron. Some of the answers should be gathered together in a book. They would make hilarious reading. Since I have been in my one breed for over 50 years I really do know the faults and virtues of my dogs so if a judge is particularly put off by my dog’s fault I can understand putting up a dog with more virtues. If the dog that wins is really inferior there isn’t any reason to ask the judge. His or her answer has no real value. —Anonymous
No, gave up on that ages ago. Most don’t have the strength to give anything but excuses and lip service. During my early years, I did fortunately get good advice from Robert Waters. And, I’m proud to say I listened. —Anonymous
Yes often. Just because we’d like to know if it was something we did, or something we can fix, to make the presentation/grooming etc in the ring when we are competing against professional handlers. —Anonymous
Rarely. But, sometimes if I stand by the ring the judge will make a comment to me on their own volition, which is always appreciated. —Anonymous
Nope, you pay for an opinion and you got it, like it or not. —Anonymous
In 35 years of showing, I can count the times I asked on one hand. Invariably, the answer I received either made me angry or made no sense. Which explains why I so rarely ask! —Vicki DeGruy
I have asked when the dog put up was a poor representation and the judge was only looking at handlers. I have asked for their feedback and made notes. If a my dog is not better than the one being placed, of course I would not ask but I have thanked judges for putting up the best dog, even though it wasn’t mine. —Anonymous
No, not anymore. When I see what they place some times I don’t want to know—it makes me think they don’t know the standard they are judging. Just getting disgusted by all the politics in the dog show world. I am finding in my breed that a certain breeder will stack the ring with her type of dog so they are the majority. This ensures a win for her. The dogs that are not the same type are not selected. Both types are correct for the breed but seems like the judges just go with the type that is the majority entered. —Anonymous
Of course. Some honestly answer others round about answers, one said you were weaving. I was weaving, really? —Anonymous
Not often because sadly most of them don’t know the breed well enough and or don’t understand the standard and put up dogs that should be getting DQ’d or are horrible representations of the breed. They put up the handler on the dog not the best representative of the breed. Makes you not even want to bother showing. —Vicky Dyal
No. I have been told by many other exhibitors and seen for myself that for the most part the judge will blow you off (they have to get to another ring to keep on schedule) or give a non answer (the other dog had more “presence” or something along those lines). There have been a few judges who, while actively judging my dog or handing out the ribbons will offer up something they liked or suggest I try something different in my handling if I’m accentuating a negative but that is very rare. I would love for the European style of judge feedback on each dog to take hold here, but the way they have the judges scheduled it would be impossible. —Anonymous
No. They are usually too busy immediately afterwards and if my dog didn’t win, I’m not staying until the end of
the show. —Anonymous
I’ve shown/bred for 49 years, but way back in the dark ages, I used to ask often. I never got a straight answer. Never. Not one judge offered constructive criticism which I was welcoming. Most just gave me a blank look. I often wondered if they were even aware of what they were doing.
I realize that I had lots of things they could have mentioned. Like most, what I took in the rings in my early experience had many holes. Of course, if you go to a breeder, ask directly for what you want, trust them—only to be made a major fool of then, of course, it is difficult for a person to get a good solid start. Because of that, I’ve always tried to be a mentor (of course that was when I started knowing just enough that I could pass that bit along). —Phyllis Anderson
No. I probably understand better than they do after more than a half century in the breed. Sometimes they are right, but we enter for a judges subjective opinion, and we deserve what we get good or bad. —Anonymous
No. However, when I tried to get one last point on my dog’s dual championship and took reserve to a bitch that was breaking over at the hock, I politely told the judge after the breed that he missed finishing a dual champion and that I was going to retire my bitch in lieu of humiliating her. Ann Rogers Clark had given my field champion the nod for a five point major at a specialty. Explain how my bitch lost to another dog breaking over at the hock? I was done. I had trained and pointed my dog in both arenas but could not buck the politics nor would I allow my dog to lose in a political arena.
No. For what we pay to present our dogs to be judged, it would be useful to have something more than a ribbon. I think more new people would get involved in showing, if comments were provided. Our club expects our Specialty Judges to provide comments on what they have seen in
the ring. —Anonymous
Yes. If a judge has shown interest in my dog and then does not give a winners or reserve I will ask them.
Also, if the judge is provisional and has struggled, I’ll talk with them. —Anonymous
No. The judges placements are sufficient feedback. More often than not, those questioning the judge are actually challenging the opinion (even when done politely).
I used to but not anymore due to the disinterested replies I have received. —Anonymous
Yes, one time. I was showing a dog that was really good. My dog and another of the same breed had competed 18 times. My dog won all 18 competitions and then a handler switch was made to a well advertised handler and my dog suffered his only defeat in his career.
I approached the Judge later in a very professional manner and wanted to ask what he had used as criteria to place the winning dog ahead of mine. The Judge refused to answer.
Having said this, let me continue. I handled dogs for about 30 years. Never advertised, never said more to a judge than a “Good morning”. Never “followed” any judge and when I retired from handling my winning percentage was over 95%. No brag, just fact.
I quietly honed my handling skills and worked every day to improve my knowledge of canine structure and studied breed standards. —Gerald W. Smith
Yes, only when it was clearly obvious they unnecessarily struggled with a decision. —Anonymous
As a rule, no, but I did once as the judge spent his time watching another ring instead of the one that we were in. The answer was worse than not asking, the judge said they did not know. Should have just left the ring. —Anonymous
No. I usually know how the class should be placed and if it didn’t go the way I thought it should, I chalk it up to a difference of opinion. —Anonymous