Are You Happy With AKC’s Decision To Repeal The 80% Group Policy?

SURVEY SAYS: Are You Happy With AKC’s Decision To Repeal The 80% Group Policy?

Each month we reach out to you to ask questions regarding dog shows and the fancy. Here are your responses to our September “Survey Says” question – received in August of 2017. Thank you to everyone who offered opinions on this month’s topic.

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Are you happy with AKC’s decision to repeal the 80% group policy? Why or why not?
*Up till now, if a person was approved to judge 80% of breeds in a group, they were eligible to apply to judge the entire group.


Yes! How can someone judge my breed that they do not know about against a breed that they do know about? Impossible. They need to know all the breeds before they can make a comparison fairly.

Since I believe strongly in judging breeds that you like, chasing a group seems to me to be counter productive. I’m very happy with this change. I breed and show a rare breed—requiring only five CEUs for applications—we get judges already who have seen few. Those acquiring the group on the 80% policy may never have seen one in the flesh and aren’t required to have done any study beforehand. Good job, AKC!
—Penelope “Penny” Inan

Yes. That rule was detrimental to low entry breeds and allowed judges to become “qualified” to judge our breeds without ever attending a seminar or having hands on dogs of that breed. —Peggy Urton

If I were still exhibiting, I would not be happy walking into a group to be judged by someone who was more interested in getting a group quickly than taking the time to be qualified to adjudicate! I would also walk in the group feeling like my chances of placing would be lessened due to the judge’s lack of knowledge of my breed. —Sulie Greendale-Paveza

As a judge I never availed myself of it—I want to know all the breeds in the group before I judge it.

As a show chair, it was impossible to work with. For a show with a minimal number of judges, sometimes there is no one else on the panel to assign to the breeds not covered by the 80% and yet the 80% judge really wants to judge the group. It did a disservice to the breeds that the judge doesn’t have. —Anne Catterson

Yes. It made it so you needed two judges to cover the group. If you have 250+ entries it’s not a problem. With the shows getting smaller, we are not seeing these types of numbers anymore. —Anonymous

Yes! I’ve always had the concern that if you had not yet applied for my breed, I would not feel comfortable enough with your level of knowledge to want to show to you in the group. I think breed knowledge in the group is as important as knowledge in the breed ring. —Anonymous

It is correct. Judges should be licensed to judge all breeds in a group before being allowed to judge that group. It is sad to me that we are settling for mediocrity. As a breeder/ exhibitor, I go to ¼ the amount of shows as I did ten years ago, because of the quality of judging that exists. I have given judging seminars on my breed and many of the attendees do not get the breed or how to judge them. Most attendees are interested in getting their form signed, not learning about the breed. Bravo for AKC for doing something right! —Anonymous

Agree with the repeal. I think judges should be approved for every breed in a group before they are allowed to judge the group. Example: The Afghan Hound has very specific characteristics that no other breed has; for instance, prominent hipbones, shoulders well laid back, tail never curled over or resting on back, etc. —Anonymous

Yes. I think the exhibitors deserve to have a judge who is approved to judge all breeds in the group adjudicating the group. —Anonymous

For someone to have approval of so many breeds and still be on provisional for their first breed is ridiculous! They can’t possibly have the knowledge necessary to competently judge this many different breeds overnight! Please repeal this approval system. —Liz Karshner

Yes, I am. I feel that a group judge should be qualified to judge every breed and that every dog should be given equal consideration at the group level. —Anonymous

Yes, I have been unhappy with the constant changing of the “Judging Approval System”. There was a time when it was of foremost important that to award approval to judge one had to really know the breeds. One of our old and long gone Judges used to say: “In order to judge Terriers you must have lived, groomed, known and thoroughly understood the breed.” Yes, I adhered to everything of the above these many years ago, but every time I was ready to apply for additional breeds of a group in something other than Terriers, AKC changed procedures and so on and on. Result being that I just stopped trying and went on to being a, hopefully, knowledgeable Specialty Terrier Judge. None of this dedication is the norm now. It pains me to have to watch some of the “newbies” judge my breeds of which they have not a clue. That is the result of what has been the constant changing by AKC. —Annemarie Moore

Thank goodness. There have been several issues with old-timer judges that were grandfathered into a group, not knowing some of the newer breed and making big mistakes with breed. Hopefully, the new ruling will stop that and dogs with correct standards will win. —Nancy Winton

Not all breeds within a group have parallel standards. Just because you know 12 herding breeds well does not mean you understand all the others. —Anonymous

I agree with the AKC. Having a judge not familiar with your breed standard is very unfair to the exhibitor—especially when it comes to Group judging. Would you go to a Doctor who only knows 80% of the medicine that he practices? In order to be fair to all the exhibitors, the judges should be up to date on all the breeds in the Group they’re approved for. —Michele Slate

Yes, I totally agree, the quality of judging is suffering. It takes time to study breeds to be able to do a good job in the ring. —Edy Dykstra-Blum

Yes, I completely agree with repeal of the 80%! In my honest opinion, it was absurd to allow judges to go for the large entries in the group in order to obtain the 80% and once they got the group, they were then passing judgment on breeds that they probably had never even touched before. I, too, am a judge but have always thought that it was an easy in and not fair to exhibitors with a low entry breed in that group. —Anonymous

Both as an exhibitor and Judge, I am happy when breeds don’t come so easily. I talk to many different breed people and they say that because of lack of knowledge of judges, their breeds are becoming mediocre. My breed included.

I sometimes don’t believe that judges know basic anatomy, much less the nuances of the breed they are judging. I personally love critiquing because you show what you know and don’t know and, hopefully, learn from a question presented because of a statement on a critique. I am afraid the great judges of yesteryear are gone. —Karen Skaggs

I feel a lot of judges are not grasping what the breed standard should look like, judging to what’s in the ring not to the AKC written standard. The overall quality of judging has been diminished—people judging breeds they are not qualified for. It is affecting exhibitors and the overall sport. —Linda Whitney

Yes. With all the newer and less frequently seen breeds, I feel it’s important a judge be as well versed in those, as well as, the more common ones to equal the playing field. —Judie Posner

Definitely yes, I am in favor of the AKC’s revocation!  —Jean Heath

Strongly in favor, I would not want to show a dog under a judge who had not been officially approved to judge my breed. —G. Hartcher

Good decision. So many judges do not know the standards in the breed classes, never mind doing a Group. They have got to pay their dues and move up the ladder slowly. —Anonymous

I agree. If a judge is going to judge a group, they should be approved for every breed in that group. Too many times, a judge has told me that they were not familiar enough with our breed to give it a group placement. —Dennis Presley

Yes! Ever wonder why you lost and do not know why? Answer: The judge knew nothing about your breed, but passed the test on 80% of the other dogs in the group. Finally! A ruling that makes sense. —Janet Hartmann

I agree with the AKC’s decision to repeal the 80% policy. As a judge and exhibitor, I have observed the apparent lack of breed knowledge far too often. This lack of knowledge erodes confidence in the conformation system opening the door to questioning a judge’s knowledge or worse, their integrity. A greater and more profound effect is the awarding of wins to breed specimens, which are undeserving and/or unworthy but have now been certified as being solid representatives of their standards. All too often breeder’s will breed based on what is winning and not necessarily to their breed’s standard. —Michael-Robert Cheeks

As an exhibitor, yes I’m glad they repealed the 80% rule. However, as a judge hopeful, it’s harder. I’m sure it will be much more expensive and it’s already almost prohibitive.  —Anonymous

It was a very smart move for the 80% plan to be removed. Just because you can Judge 80% of a group does not give you the knowledge of dogs that you have never gone over or taken the time for Judges Education to learn the Standard. It’s like standing outside of the ring and thinking was this really best dog that was sent to the group. How do you really know? —Kathleen Kolbert

If I know 80% of how to be an electrician can I become a licensed electrician? Of course not. Merely because a judge understands short-coated Toy breeds does not qualify them to judge drop-coated Toys. —Katherine Kasten


Not at all. I’ve been showing and breeding for 25 years and I see a decline in judging my breed. Half these judges are clueless as to what good movement is, what a good head is and breed type. The result is a lot of incorrect dogs are winning and new and inexperienced breeders are then breeding to that type. I fear for the future of my breed. —Anonymous

Not really. I didn’t think that program was all that damaging. I do, however, think getting 26 breeds in six months hurts the sport a lot. Especially when the applicant is new to judging. So limiting each application to ten is a good decision. —Anonymous

I think that the aging population in the judging ranks coupled with the growing number of events is going to make it necessary to make the approval process faster and more efficient and this is a step in the wrong direction. —Anonymous

I disagree with the repeal of that ruling. If a Judge is approved to judge 80% of the breeds in a group, they are certainly qualified to judge the entire group. This makes it more difficult for the already struggling All-breed clubs to hire judges. AKC just keeps running clubs into the ground. They struggle and work hard and AKC kicks them when they are down. —Sandra L. Garlinger-Torres

No! Some of the low entry breeds we will never get our hands on unless it is in a group. Most of the low entry breeds do not have sweeps where a prospective judge can gain experience in the breed. I do believe they should limit doing the group on the 80% if all you have left is low entry breeds. —Patricia Healy

No, I believe that the majority of judges take assignments seriously and responsibly. This decision will maintain the existing power cliques and make qualifications more challenging for newer judges. —Gloria Rice

No! The 80% was made for a reason. It is hard enough and costs too much already to become a judge. We are a dying sport at this time to begin with. —Laurie Borghes

What I believe is even more unfortunate is the AKC Board has reduced the number of additional breed applications to a limit of ten now, effective immediately. Many of us have spent years acquiring the credits for multiple breeds only now to be told that our other additional breeds will have to wait—just ten additional breeds will be considered. Longtime owner/breeder handlers who also happen to be aspiring judges and are the backbone of this sport are intensely annoyed with the mistakes and mishandling that appear to be part and parcel of this organization. We are told they are going to review the judging approval process, yet again, after all the energy and interest invested to date. This is maddening. —Anonymous

Not really, as I feel that at that point one should be given the opportunity to judge the group. Perhaps a stipulation such as the remainder of breeds have to be finished within a specific time period would make this seem fair. I guess give a little to get a little? —MB Walsh

We need more judges! They should be mentored at the very least in breeds they are lacking or figure out testing for knowledge before approving remainder 20%. So many of our judges are aging out, what are they thinking? Limiting panels to current group judges just adds to a dearth of diversity experienced Clubs may be able to attract a better entry with different new judges; and, ergo, saving on judges’ travel expenses. —Mary Beth McManus

When I qualified for the 80% Group Policy, AKC sent out a form letter inquiring if I was interested in applying to judge the Non-Sporting Group. I reviewed the letter with an AKC Representative before deciding to apply. I have since successfully judged several Non-Sporting Groups. This opportunity has been a positive experience for clubs, exhibits and myself. My only question, “Was my experience an exception or the norm?” —Diana L Skibinski

I think it is foolish to repeal the 80% group policy as we are constantly in need of more judges and once they can do 80% of a Group, they should be able to do a creditable job. —Helga Kane

The new AKC ruling, yet again, moves “The cheese” for judges. You will have a mixed bag of judges who did things as they did before, now along side some confused new judges. If they want better judges, stop changing the rules! —Anonymous

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