Insights from a Toy Group Judge Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin


Interview with a Toy Group Judge Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin


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

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: Due to the Pandemic, I live all over; I fled NYC to take care of parents in Iowa. Now I live between the Omaha area (when I’m visiting parents); Nashville, Miami, NYC, and Philadelphia.

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

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: My original breed is the Shih Tzu. Falling Star is my kennel name.

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

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: I have had numerous ROM titles. I actually don’t apply for them anymore because I can’t keep track. The titles are not why I show. I had 10 ROM as of 10 years ago, I probably would have double that now. In 1996, I got my first Group One, Am./Can./Int’l. Ch. Munchkintown O’ Falling Star ROM. That year, I bred 10 champions. I bred another 10 champions in 1998-1999. In 2000-2001, I bred 9 homebred champions; 12 in 2004; 11 in 2006; 8 in 2010, to name a few. At present, I have bred close to 100 homebred champions.

What are some of the qualities I most admire in the Toy Breeds?

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: I admire their ability to make you smile. They are all so sweet and willing to please, and they love you… and, their sweet faces.

Have I judged any Toy Breed Specialties?

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: Yes.

Can I offer any advice to exhibitors regarding the presentation of these “table” breeds?

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: Don’t pick the dog up by the tail or by the throat, it hurts them and throws off their performance. Relax and realize it’s a table; they are dogs, and they are not supposed to be completely still. A good judge will be able to analyze what they need to see efficiently to make it a quality experience for both the dog, handler, and judge.

Some longtime exhibitors have “downsized” to Toys. In my opinion, has this had an impact on quality?

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: No, but recently I sold two dogs to a French Bulldog breeder. They are very nice dogs. She’s having a learning curve with grooming. This is to be expected. We need to help these people, even the competition. I think it’s easy to look and judge. Instead, we need to help and encourage. Grooming is hard and is a skill you don’t learn overnight. Let’s be considerate and helpful.

Toy Breeds can require special care. Do I have any advice to offer breeders, exhibitors, and judges?

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: Love—lots of love.

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

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: It’s always easy to say that it was much better yesterday. That could be, but even in the past 10 years I see my own breed’s transition.

Why do I think Toy Dogs can become outstanding Show Dogs?

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: Well, not all dogs should be Show Dogs and not all dogs can be outstanding Show Dogs. In fact, some of the most mediocre-quality dogs (according to breeders) are the top winners. A special Show Dog has that special something that says, “Come, look at me.” We all know it when we see it. It’s breathtaking. This can’t be taught and usually can’t be trained out. It’s unusual to see, and when we do, we forgive the overall little parts because, in the end, judging is about the overall dog compared to the Standard.

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

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: Shih Tzu, the best breed. I will just have a pool boy to do the grooming. I’m done with that!

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

Dr. Troy Clifford Dargin: I have many funny stories. If they are in the Toy Group or not, I can’t remember. Come find me at a show and I’ll share some with you!

  • Troy became involved with dogs when he was a child and competed in Junior handling where he consistently placed in the Midwest top rankings. Troy has bred well over 70 home-bred Shih Tzu champions to date and is currently active in the breed. His Falling Star kennel prefix has numerous Registry of Merit (ROM) awards to its credit. Having a background in education and Junior showmanship Troy loves to judge Juniors and has been doing so since he aged out of Juniors. Currently he judges the Sporting, Toy, Terrier, and Non-Sporting groups.

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