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Interview with Deborah Wilkins – Working Group AKC Judge

Bernese mountain dog head photo


Interview with Deborah Wilkins, Working Group AKC Judge


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

I live in Corpus Christi, Texas (formerly in Minnesota). I have lived with purebred dogs since early childhood. I’ve been judging for 22 years.


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

My original breed is the Bernese Mountain Dog. Abbey Road Bernese Mountain Dogs is my kennel name.

Deborah Wilkins
Deborah Wilkins – Working Group AKC Judge


Have I judged any Working Breed/Group Specialties?



Are there specific qualities I admire most in the Working Breeds?

I admire their inherent intelligence and the ability to do the work for which they are intended.


How important are the breed hallmarks in the Working Breeds? Can I offer a few examples?

Breed hallmarks define the breed in type, form, and function. Specific hallmarks have a reason and purpose, such as coat type, ear size, the shape of a foot, and so much more as defined in each breed standard.


Can I speak to the general presentation of the Working Breeds in my ring today?

Many of the dogs I evaluate are moved too fast in the show ring, are overgroomed and sculpted, and lack proper conditioning for a Working Breed. Each breed standard clearly defines proper gait and presentation.


Do I have any thoughts/opinions on dividing the Working Group in two?

The AKC Delegate body previously voted on this proposal and they voted against it. I am not sure why it is being revisited and will wait for further information on this topic.


What advice would I offer newer judges of the Working Breeds?

Focus on breed type, and form and function.


Which Working Breeds provide the greatest challenge to judges? To exhibitors?

Heavily coated breeds that require a thorough, hands-on examination provide the greatest challenge to judges. Exhibitors need to know the form and function of the breeds they are exhibiting. They need to know what the words of the breed standard mean.


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

I have owned numerous breeds over the years, but my favorite breed remains the Bernese Mountain Dog. The breed is known for its ability to touch your soul and they are devoted to their humans.


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

I am so focused when I judge a show that the world beyond the dog that I’m examining seems non-existent. What always warms my heart is the dog that gives me a quick lick, a wagging tail, and attempts to snuggle.



Interview with Deborah Wilkins, Working Group AKC Judge