Menu toggle icon.
Menu toggle icon.

David Fitzpatrick – 2023 National Dog Show Toy Group Judge

David Fitzpatrick


Interview with David Fitzpatrick – 2023 National Dog Show Toy Group Judge

Can I describe my reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Toy Group at this year’s National Dog Show Presented by Purina?

David Fitzpatrick: As a new judge, I was pleased to be trusted with this assignment. I have over 50 years’ experience as a “Dog Person,” so needless to say, that helped.


What does it mean to judge a Group at this historic show?

David Fitzpatrick: At any show it’s a responsibility to pass judgement on the current breeding stock. When judging with the added element of television, the task is taken very seriously.


In my opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC events?

David Fitzpatrick: This show is viewed on a major network after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I’m not a numbers person, but I’m sure the audience is huge.


What was I thinking or feeling moments before I stepped into the center of the Group ring?

David Fitzpatrick: I felt a bit antsy and just wanted to get in and start the judging.


Was there a heightened energy coming from the dog and handler teams? Did I feel the energy of the spectators?

David Fitzpatrick: I thought the dogs and their handlers were fairly calm. At many televised shows, the handlers get worked up and move too fast and try too hard, usually at the detriment of the exhibit. People in the ring were pretty “chilled out.” I’m pretty oblivious to what’s happening outside the ring, so I didn’t feel the energy of the spectators, but it was great that they all enjoyed the dogs.


How challenging was this assignment? Can I share my selection process?

David Fitzpatrick: It was a very good Group, with several dogs I was not familiar with. On the Group level, you are judging dogs of various breeds. I usually think, “How good is this example? How does it represent its Breed Standard? Is it in good shape on the day? Is it one of the better dogs of its breed that I’ve seen?” and go from there.


Do I have a word or two about my Group winner? About the dogs that placed?

David Fitzpatrick: The Group-winning Shih Tzu was looking the part on the day. He has a large head with correct facial features and is well balanced for his breed, being not too short-backed or tall on leg; not an exaggerated neck; good tail. Correctly coated. He carried himself well. The Yorkshire Terrier was also outstanding; very dark steel blue body that was very cool to the touch; well-constructed; and moved typically; tail was not carried over the back but at the correct location; topline level; pretty head and expression, with rare smallish ears. A very good Yorkie. The Chin is a little aristocrat, with his correct head, balance, and condition. Moving well on the day, he was outstanding. The Toy Manchester’s lovely head and eye, correct markings, balanced standing, holding her outline on the move, earned her this placement.


This show has become a Thanksgiving Day tradition in America. Is there anything I’d like to say on behalf of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia and the show’s sponsors?

David Fitzpatrick: It’s great that the Kennel Club of Philadelphia and the National Dog Show have partnered to bring purebred dogs to the public. The more positive representation the sport receives the better. When I was a teenager, I attended the KC of Philadelphia when it was in downtown Philly. It was one of the most important and prestigious shows of the year. I am happy to see these older clubs continue their traditions of excellence.


Are there specific ways in which this show furthers the cause of purebred dogs?

David Fitzpatrick: It is the only benched show of the year. Benched shows provide the best opportunity for the general public to experience and learn about purebred dogs.


Now that my assignment is complete, what does this show mean to me personally?

David Fitzpatrick: Growing up in the Northeast, not far from Philadelphia, the show represents so much of our sport’s history. From the days of Mr. Kendrick being at the helm to today’s great show, it’s a very good feeling to see these prestige events change with the times but still uphold the traditions of the past.