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Interview with Working Group Judge Robin Hug

Working Group Judge Robin Hug

Interview with Working Group Judge Robin Hug

I have been involved in the sport of purebred dogs for over 40 years. I got my start in Australian Shepherds and I then went on to enjoy Akita, Borzoi, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, and my final and permanent love for over 35 years, the Alaskan Malamute. My husband, Joseph, and I have been successful in the conformation ring with our Adair’n’Hug Alaskan Malamutes. Our dogs have won our Top 20 event four times (in 2001 with “Strutz,” in 2005 and 2006 with his grandson, “Stewart,” and most recently, in 2011 with “Princess,” a girl we co-bred) as well as Multiple Best in Specialties. In 2019, Joe showed one of our males, “Carhart,” at Crufts and won the Breed from the Veteran Class. Not to be outdone by the boys, in 2019 and 2020 I showed our co-owned girl, “Tart,” who was voted Top 20 People’s Choice both years. Most of our dogs are breeder/owner-handled. When I am not judging, I am training dogs and teaching puppy kindergarten, conformation, and junior obedience.

Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Robin Hug: I live in Conifer, Colorado, with my husband, Joseph. I have owned purebred dogs for 50 years. As a child, we had Australian shepherds (yes, prior to AKC recognition). As an adult, I have owned and shown Akitas, Borzoi, PBGV, and Alaskan Malamutes, and I have been judging for 14 years.

What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Robin Hug: The Akita was the original breed that I showed; however, Alaskan Malamutes have been my breed for over 30 years. Adair’n’Hug Alaskan Malamutes is our kennel name.

Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or Parent Club titles?
Robin Hug: I will not name any of our current dogs for obvious reasons (and there were so many that have fond memories of), but a favorite dog from the past, a real heart dog for me, was GRCH CH Adair’n’Hug S Wonderful Life ROM (a two-time Top 20 Winner). Joe and I have bred BIS, BISS, multiple Top 20 Contenders and Winners, and multiple ROM Sires and Dams. I have put a few weight pull titles, and CD and RN titles, on our dogs. Many of our puppies have gone to homes where they have excelled at performance work. Currently, Fast CAT is the sport of choice.

What are the qualities I most admire in the Working breeds?
Robin Hug: The diversity, beauty, strength, and charisma of the dogs in the Working Group is, in my opinion, unparalleled.

Have I judged any Working Group Specialties?
Robin Hug: Yes, it is always an honor to be asked to judge Specialties. I have judged the Alaskan Malamute French National, Alaskan Malamute Regionals, Akita, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Great Pyrenees, Rottweiler, Samoyed, and Siberian Huskey Specialties.

Do I find that size, proportion and substance are correct in most Working breeds?
Robin Hug: I find that this varies from breed to breed and region to region. That said, too much length of body tends to be an issue in many breeds. Oversize is more of an issue than undersize in some breeds. Lack of substance may be an issue of age, with some not allowing dogs to mature before showing them. However, I have discovered inconsistencies in substance within breeds.

Is breed-specific presentation important to me as a judge?
Robin Hug: Yes, and it starts with the oral exam. As a judge, I am supposed to know what the oral exam is for each breed. Part of breed-specific presentation is to know what is pertinent to show the judge. Movement is also breed-specific. Many breeds are to be gaited on a loose lead, not strung up, and I do not know of any standard that says to race the dogs around the ring. It is wonderful to judge dogs that are gaiting at the speed that is appropriate for their breed.

What are my thoughts on cropping/docking the Working breeds?
Robin Hug: Well, that is a controversial question for sure. I try to judge these breeds according to parent club directives. However, we are seeing more and more imports from countries that do not crop/dock, and fewer US veterinarians are doing these procedures. The bottom line is; if the best overall dog in the ring is uncropped/undocked, that dog should be my winner unless the standard does describe it as a serious fault or DQ. We are judging breeding stock and genetic makeup, not man-made alterations; even though these alterations have importance to the original function of the breed.

Are the Working breeds in good shape overall? Do I have any concerns?
Robin Hug: The Working Group overall seems to be in good shape at the Group level, and I have no problem finding dogs to award placements. Regionally, there are strengths and weaknesses in breeds, and at times, when I have been judging at the class levels, I have
had concerns.

In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Working Dogs of the past?
Robin Hug: This is difficult to answer and not consistent in all Working breeds. We all tend to immortalize dogs of the past as being “Great Ones.” Some may have been. I think that in many cases, if they were to be transported into today’s rings, we would find that they would be competitive with current dogs. I do think that in many of the coated breeds we are breeding for too much coat, and thus, we are seeing an abundance of sculpting. In many of the “newer” breeds, there has been an improvement in structure. Today, I feel we have more “professional” show dogs. Many of the dogs from the past had “day jobs” where showing was just a weekend sport. I will qualify this statement, however, by stating that I have been judging for 14 years and have more experience with my personal breeds.

Why do I think the Working breeds are so admired as family companions?
Robin Hug: It is because of their diversity, beauty, strength, and charisma.

Do I have a funny story I can share about my experience judging the Working Group?
Robin Hug: I cannot think of one at this time… I am sure the moment I send this off, I will wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “Oh, yeah…”