Insights from Connie Clark – Terrier Group AKC Judge

Connie Clark head photo


Interview with Connie Clark, Terrier Group AKC Judge


I have been involved in the purebred dog fancy since 1976 as a breeder of Wire Fox Terriers, Irish, Smooths, and Airedales, and as an exhibitor, a professional handler, AKC Delegate, and AKC Judge.

Currently, I serve as President of the Wire Fox Terrier Club of the Central States and I’m a member of the Board of Directors, and I was inducted into their Hall of Fame. I have served as a Board of Governor for the American Fox Terrier Club and I’m a past-President for two four-year terms.

Approved to judge in 2007, I judge the Terrier Group. In addition to the Terrier Group, I am approved to judge Toy breeds and I’ve had the privilege of judging Toy and Terrier breeds at this year’s 144th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

I am an active member of the Del Monte Kennel Club, Morris & Essex Kennel Club, and the Santa Barbara Kennel Club.


Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as an AKC Judge?

Connie Clark: I live in Rio Del Mar, California. I have been in dogs for 45 years, and a judge for 15 years.


Do I have any hobbies or interests outside of purebred dogs?

Connie Clark: Yes, for the past 16 years, my husband and I have enjoyed cruising the Pacific Northwest and Canada, including the Inside Passage, north and south, on our trawler “Anna.


What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?

Connie Clark: The Wire Fox Terrier is our original breed. Cricklewood Wire Fox Terriers is our kennel name.


Have I judged any Terrier Breed/Group Specialties?

Connie Clark: Yes, I judged the Airedale Terrier National and the Wire Fox Terrier National last year at Montgomery County, and I will be judging the Welsh Terrier National this year at Montgomery. I judged the first Bred-by-Exhibitor Group at Montgomery and I have judged Wire Fox Terriers at the 2011 World Show in Paris, the American Staffordshire Terrier Specialty show in Spain, and the Kerry Blue Terrier National Specialty at Montgomery, plus a concurrent specialty with the Hatboro Dog Club.

In addition, I’ve judged the Australian Terrier Club National Specialty and several regional specialties, including a Border Terrier and Irish Terrier Specialties.


Do I have any thoughts on the status of so many Terriers as “low entry” breeds?

Connie Clark: I think it is very sad to see that almost half of the Terrier Group breeds are now on the Low Entry list today. Terrier trimming and conditioning is very time consuming, and I think people are not willing to put the time in that it takes to keep a dog in top condition for the show ring.


What about the overall quality of Terriers at all-breed shows? Do low entries mean low quality?

Connie Clark: I have been fortunate to see top-quality entries at all-breed shows and at smaller shows, even when the entries are low.


Are there areas of the country where Terriers are particularly strong?

Connie Clark: I think both the East and West Coasts have a strong group of quality Terriers, as do the larger cities in the middle of the country like Chicago and Minneapolis.


Do Terriers provide a challenge for judges who come from breeds in the other Groups?

Connie Clark: I believe Terriers do provide a challenge for some judges who come from breeds in other Groups, mainly because of their grooming, conditioning, and in some cases, movement. Most of the hard-coated Terrier breeds are hand-stripped in order to have the proper texture and coloring, and this can be a challenge for those judges who have never put a stripped coat on a Terrier.


Have there been judges who have influenced my decision to judge? Influenced my manner of judging?

Connie Clark: Yes, there have been judges who have influenced my decision to judge. I watch and admire those judges who are experts in their chosen breed(s) and Groups.


If I could share my life with only one Terrier breed, which breed would it be and why?

Connie Clark: Of course, it would be the Wire Fox Terrier. I love their intelligence, independence, arrogance, and toughness. They are also a healthy breed.


Do I have a “Montgomery Memory” that best summarizes my feelings about Terriers in general?

Connie Clark: Not a particular memory, but many memories from each year that I have attended. Montgomery County is the “Mecca for Terriers,” and anyone who is interested in the Terrier breeds should plan on attending. Most of the breeds hold their Nationals there and you get to see dogs from all over the country and from overseas.


Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Terrier Group?

Connie Clark: No, not really.

  • I live in Rio Del Mar, California. I have been in dogs for 45 years, and a judge for 15 years.

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