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Interview with 2022 AKC National Championship Sporting Group Judge Jamie Hubbard

Sporting Group Judge Jamie Hubbard with the Sporting Group winner: GCHG CH Collina D'Oro Solo Un Bacio, a Spinone Italiano known as “Josie,” owned by Claire Abraham & Stacey Belt of Lovettsville, VA and bred by Stacey Anderson Belt and Lorne Belt.


Interview with 2022 AKC National Championship Sporting Group Judge Jamie Hubbard


Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Sporting Group at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin?

Jamie Hubbard: As with other major events like Westminster Kennel Club or National Specialties, it is always an honor to receive these invitations.


What does it mean to judge a Group at the only all-breed show organized directly by the American Kennel Club?

Jamie Hubbard: For me, it’s not just the fact that it is the only AKC organized show; it’s the one show of the year where breed competition is very strong from the classes right through to Best of Breed competition. So, the Groups have the potential to be the best you’ve ever judged.


In your opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC events?

Jamie Hubbard: I think I touched on this in Question #2. Since the competition is open, quality can be found throughout the entry. We’ve seen in years gone by where super dogs (some from foreign countries) have taken top awards.


What were you thinking or feeling moments before you stepped into the center of the Sporting Group ring?

Jamie Hubbard: We all remember the Shih Tzu guy in the movie Best in Show. I was thinking, “Don’t wave like him” as I stepped into the ring.


Was there a heightened energy coming from the dog and handler teams? Did you feel the energy of the spectators?

Jamie Hubbard: The answer to both questions is no. Once you are in the ring, you zone in on your job and don’t pick up on any other factors beyond the job at hand.


How challenging was this assignment? Can you share your selection process?

Jamie Hubbard: Honestly, I did not find it challenging. The Sporting Group is familiar territory for me. So, I have strong feelings about how each breed should look. We don’t always share those views with fellow judges, so it never comes as a surprise that the winners in some breeds aren’t particularly what I love. It made my job easier at the Group level to narrow it down, and in my case, down to the eight I cut and then the final four I placed.


Do you have a word or two about your Group winner? About the dogs that placed?

Jamie Hubbard: I LOVED my final four dogs. Without going into details, those four dogs represented characteristics so unique to their breed that it catapulted them to the Top 4.

On the night, the Spinone checked every box for her breed and was in amazing condition.


A dog show of this magnitude is a monumental undertaking. Is there anything you’d like to say on behalf of the AKC and the show’s sponsors?

Jamie Hubbard: Monumental probably doesn’t cover it. What a huge task to put on this event, whose total entries across all aspects almost hit 10,000. Just remember that if you are attending next year, spend some time thanking those who contributed to the event.


Are there specific ways in which this show furthers the cause of purebred dogs?

Jamie Hubbard: Absolutely. Starting with the telecast on the ABC Network on January 1, 2023.


Now that it’s over, what are your thoughts on the 2022 show year? Any thoughts on the year ahead?

Jamie Hubbard: We can all agree that 2022 was a year that was almost back to normal from the COVID pandemic.

For 2023, I have one “ask” and that is for judges to remember that they are evaluating breeding stock and to not follow the trends, social media, and dog magazine ads.