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Insights from Non-Sporting Group Judge Diane Landstrom

Diane Landstrom


Interview with Non-Sporting Group Judge Diane Landstrom


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

Diane Landstrom: I reside in Litchfield Park, Arizona, about 20 miles west of Phoenix. I’ve been showing since 1989, with my first National in 1991. The judging endeavor began in 2004, on the old one-for-one system.

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

Diane Landstrom: My original breed, and still remaining breed, is the the Samoyed. Landmark Samoyeds is our kennel name, which my husband chose.

Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?

Diane Landstrom: One of my favorites was BISS Landmark’s Magic Sambuca, owned by Pam and Jack Hofmann, sired by “Bud Light,” a multiple BIS dog. My “heart dog” was “Libby,” Sweepstakes Winner at a huge specialty at eight months of age and BOW in the cold and rain by a breeder-judge. Landmark’s Miss Liberty was a Group Winner shown by me. Unfortunately, when she passed, I lost five generations; BOS Veteran Sweeps with a bitch and some AOMs at Specialties. I have bred dogs obtaining certified therapy and service titles and obedience titles as well, but none owned by us. I was always an owner-handler, never campaigned, perhaps should have; and I showed Sams owned by others to their championships. That was all prior to me damaging my knee and having surgery! Not being a breeder of many litters (one every two or three years), we bred to keep one for ourselves and the remainder went to companion homes.

What are some of the qualities I most admire in the Non-Sporting Breeds?

Diane Landstrom: Diversity at its best… all over the place. You have active watchdogs, very agile… alert, Nordic types, similar to Samoyeds, with double coats; dogs originating in China with keen intelligence; larger dogs with great endurance and speed. They are very different in type structure, toplines, coats (or lack thereof), and heads. There are table dogs to ramp and ground dogs, with totally different gaits. And not to forget the tongue colors!!! All are gentle breeds, though.

Have I judged any Non-Sporting Breed/Group Specialties?

Diane Landstrom: I have been fortunate to judge a Bulldog, a Chinese Shar-Pei, and a Schipperke Specialty. I would love more.

Can I speak to the overall quality of the more popular Non-Sporting Breeds/Varieties; Bulldog, French Bulldog, and Standard & Miniature Poodles?

Diane Landstrom: Important to know is the Bulldog mouth and head, and its topline and shape from above. Frenchies have become very popular and the topline is important, but a square head is also so important, with bat ears and good set. I’m seeing a bit too much roach as well. My personal opinion is that some are getting too large and the weight DQ needs to be followed. Poodles are so elegant, with impeccable grooming. Running with head high and a light, springy action is beautiful. They must have good feet and, I believe, tail sets have improved… and they are square!

What about the overall quality of the more “vulnerable” breeds; Coton de Tulear, Finnish Spitz, Löwchen?

Diane Landstrom: The Coton is a beautiful, small dog with white, soft and cotton-like coat. Topline is better than 15 years ago, with a slight arch over the loin. Löwchen breed type and the Finnish Spitz are both good, again, better now than years ago. I find the foxy-like appearance and the nice, square body of the Finnish Spitz lovely. My personal feeling is that these breeds should be showcased more in “meet the breeds” or special events highlighting their affectionate and faithful personalities. Families should not be bashful to visit these breeds at shows and talk with the breeders, because we just don’t see very many.

Would I have any advice to impart to newer judges of the Non-Sporting Breeds who come from other Groups?

Diane Landstrom: Study and be prepared for the extreme diversity… DQs, weights, heights, all colors, and gait elements. It is a fun group… all very different, including their personalities.

In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Non-Sporting Dogs of the past?

Diane Landstrom: Today’s exhibitors and breeders are more educated and informed with advanced health directives, more genetic testing for breed-specific health concerns as well as programs developed for inbreeding and outcrossing co-efficients. New protocols and breed selection is not limited to one area of the country. AKC Standards take a great length of time from parent clubs, members, and AKC’s help prior to final approval, and so they should be honored until the time that parent clubs feel the need for change and/or an update of a specific point of the Standard.

Why do I think Non-Sporting Dogs can become such outstanding Show Dogs?

Diane Landstrom: First of all, they are loved by their owners and want to please, and regardless of that particular day, they continue to be loved and they show well. Novice exhibitors have an opportunity to watch AKC handlers, in the Group and Breed rings, to learn handling skills. Focus wholly on the dog and judge, not on others in the ring, and your dog will see your attention and want to please you more. Now, with more shows being filmed, it gives everyone an opportunity to view all the breeds, not only the Group Winners.

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

Diane Landstrom: While I love Shelties and the Shiba Inu, I’d probably take an American Eskimo… I’m used to the double coat. They also smile at you and are just smaller than the Samoyed! I love the Bostons and the Tibetan Terrier too, but don’t tell anyone.

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

Diane Landstrom: Certainly. I don’t know where to begin with this; however, I did have a Dalmatian get away from the handler and run around the ring a bit… it was a fun event and we all laughed, including the handler. The show ring has to be fun for everyone, as most lose more than they win! Thank you… these are not easy questions for someone not coming from the Group originally!