Interview with Hound Group Judge Robert Robinson
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Robert Robinson: I live in Phoenix, Arizona. My wife and I acquired our first show Irish Setter in 1972. I began my judging career in 1994 and judge four Groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, and Herding.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?
Robert Robinson: One notable Challenger Irish Setter litter was comprised of only six dogs, all of which completed their Conformation championships by winning Specialties or Sporting Group shows. In addition, two achieved Agility titles (MACHS and NATCHS 2 and 3 titles), one was Best of Winners at the Irish Setter National and became a Bronze Grand Champion, and one earned a Junior Hunter title—all owner-handled or breeder/owner-handled to their accomplishments.
What are some of the qualities I most admire in the Hound breeds?
Robert Robinson: I admire the Hound Breeds because, while they are beautiful in the Conformation ring, they still retain those hunting attributes for which they are so well-known.
Have I judged any Hound Breed/Group Specialties?
Robert Robinson: Yes, over the years I have judged a number of Hound Specialties.
Hounds are, first and foremost, hunters. How does this inform my decision-making in the show ring?
Robert Robinson: As we all know, form should follow function. I have had the good fortune to be on Coonhound night hunts, observe lure coursing, and visit European Hound kennels; all have enhanced my understanding of the Hound Breed Standards of the American Kennel Club.
How important are breed hallmarks in the Sighthounds? In the Scenthounds? In the “Primitive” Hounds?
Robert Robinson: While all Hounds are hunters, Scenthound hallmarks define those characteristics which emphasize nose work. Hallmarks of Sighthounds emphasize visual ability of their hunting skills, and so on. Hallmarks distinguish differences.
Would I have any advice to impart to newer judges of the Hound Breeds who come from other Groups?
Robert Robinson: Seek mentoring, mentoring, mentoring! Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In addition, I think any judge, new or seasoned, should attend as many events showcasing the functional abilities of breeds as possible.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Hounds of the past?
Robert Robinson: While the size of dog shows seems to be trending downward today, top dogs still compare favorably to the Hounds of the past. A great dog is a great dog in any era.
When it comes to Group and Best in Show competition, do Hounds have a “leg up” or a liability? (Think Westminster.)
Robert Robinson: I don’t think they have either. How a judging panel is assembled will have a strong influence on the winners of any Group. I do think that dogs are like athletes, and on any given day a dog can just “shine and stand out above the rest” and should then win. And, as we know, that doesn’t always happen.
If I could share my life with only one Hound Breed, which would it be and why?