Interview with Sporting Group Judge Barbara Burns
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
I live in Freeport, Illinois. I have had dogs all my life and have been judging for 25-plus years.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
My original breed was the Gordon Setter under the Burncrest Kennel name. I also bred Dachshunds.
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or field titles?
Notable dogs that I’ve bred include CH Sundance Special Attraction (Brood Bitch 1989), AM/CAN CH Burncrest Master of Ceremony (Group Placing) & CH Berridale’s BMW of Brentwood, (National Specialty Winner).
How important are Performance and Companion titles in a Sporting Dog?
No Performance or Companion titles on my dogs.
Have I judged any Sporting Breed Specialties?
I have judged several Sporting Breed Specialties for Gordon Setters, English Setters, English Springer Spaniels, and Irish Setter Specialties as well as the American Water Spaniel National Specialty and the Irish Red and White Setter National Specialty.
Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Sporting breeds?
For some yes, for others, no. In my breed, many Gordons do not have the bone and substance they should have for the breed. They don’t have to be the biggest Setter, but they should be the most substantial of all the Setters. Irish and English Setters do have appropriate substance and size. From what I am seeing in the ring, many English Cocker Spaniels are getting too big as are some Springers.
What are my thoughts on the current grooming practices among the coated breeds?
I hate to see the Spinonis over-groomed, taking away the natural look of the breed. Goldens are very much over-groomed, with lots of product in them to give them the appearance of more bone and substance. (American) Cocker Spaniels are also over-groomed, and it takes a lot of work and product to get and maintain their coats. Many other breeds are over-groomed, not just Sporting breeds.
Are the Sporting breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns?
For the most part, yes. The Gordon Setter is better now than it was 10 years ago. Breeders are working hard to follow the standards and are breeding dogs with fewer genetic issues. I still think fronts are the weakest part of many Sporting breeds. The correct front is very hard to get and very easy to lose.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Sporting Dogs of the past?
I don’t see a lot of changes in Sporting breeds from the past to now, except for grooming. That has changed a lot. A lot more grooming is done today than in the past.
Why do I think the Sporting breeds make up a large portion of the typical show’s entries?
Sporting breeds are very versatile in how they hunt, and they have other jobs that they can do. They are unique in the different types of terrain in which they hunt and in the style in which they hunt that is adaptive to the terrain. So, the prospective hunter has more choices and options, and can find the breed that most closely fits their needs.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story I can share about judging the Sporting Group?
I was judging the Sporting Group and had gone over all the dogs. When I was reviewing and making some choices, a Weimaraner rolled on her back with all four legs up in the air—as the handler buried her face in her hands. We all just laughed. The handler said it was because she did not come into the ring with any bait… lesson learned.