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Interview with Karen McFarlane – 2024 WKC Dog Show Breed Judge

Karen McFarlane

Interview with Karen McFarlane – 2024 WKC Dog Show Breed Judge

What does it mean to you personally to be invited to judge at this year’s historic Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?

Karen McFarlane: Receiving an invitation to judge at the 2024 Westminster show is both exciting and an honor! When I opened the invitation, I had to read the letter three times to make sure I read it correctly. Then, I asked my husband to read it to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Of course, this took place after I made sure it was addressed to me and not someone else by mistake! The attention to detail at The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was overwhelmingly fabulous, from the decorations, set-up, and down to the purple rubber bands for the armbands! Donald Sturz and all his team are to be commended for a job above and beyond.

Can you share a few comments on your various Breed assignments? Please be specific.

Karen McFarlane: Boerboels—The Boerboel was a singleton entry. He was quite a calm and confident dog. Large in stature as needed for the necessity of tracking and holding down predators. Impressive head being blocky, deep, and muscular with good width.

Dogos Argentinos—I was impressed when the group of Dogos Argentinos came into the ring. They all were respectable examples of their breed. The Best of Breed dog was a large, powerful, and athletic dog. He moved in an efficient manner with powerful reach and drive, with both front and rear converging to a centerline. He possessed good depth of chest, substantial bone, a lovely head, and was well-muscled. The word “harmonious” describes this lovely dog well.

Komondorok—The two lovely, corded dogs entered the ring with zest and confidence. The Best of Breed dog, although being a younger dog, was a large, muscular dog with ample bone and a large head possessing a broad skull and wide muzzle. He carried a dense, protective, corded coat.

Kuvaszok—While there were only two exhibits, they were both good examples of the breed, being well balanced with beautiful heads. Lovely, luxuriant double coats with good texture. The dog I finally chose for Best of Breed was sturdily built with good substance. He had a beautiful, elongated head with a defined stop, lovely pigment, and nice, dark almond eyes. He moved in a sound single-track with free and easy strides.

Alaskan Malamutes—I selected a beautiful bitch for Best of Breed. Above all else, the Alaskan Malamute is a sledge dog and this bitch was capable of moving with strength and endurance. She had very close competition with the BOS dog and the Select Dog. All, plus several other exhibits, displayed the powerfulness and balance so desirable in this breed. This lovely bitch was honored with a Group 4 in the Working Group.

Siberian Huskies—The three sled dog breeds are my heart breeds. When the Siberians entered the ring, I was smiling from ear to ear watching 28 beautiful Siberian Huskies moving around the ring with grace and endurance. For Best of Breed, I selected a beautiful, strong-moving dog. He caught my attention the moment he came into the ring. His lovely proportions, overall type, and ground-covering, efficient movement made him the essence of the Standard. With his medium size, level topline, and moderate bone, he possessed the qualities I was looking for. The Best of Opposite bitch had many of the same qualities as the Best of Breed dog. There were several dogs and bitches which also exhibited similar, desirable qualities. Outstanding overall entry. The Breed dog went on to a Group 2 in the Working Group.

Samoyeds—It was truly the thrill of a lifetime to stand in the middle of the show ring at Westminster when the beautiful Samoyeds entered the ring! I have owned and bred Samoyeds for 50 years and to be given the great honor of judging my own beloved breed at The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was more than a dream come true. Shown to perfection, the quality was top-notch with so many wonderful exhibits. The entire entry had beautiful type and good structure. My selection for Breed was a typey, beautiful-moving bitch with correct proportions—approximately 55% leg length and 5% off-square. She was beautiful both standing and moving. My BOS choice was the epitome of type with a beautiful head, coat, and profile, exhibiting outstanding side gait; being agile and well-timed. Additionally, there were many other exhibits with this level of quality, making my decisions difficult. There were many emotional moments for me, loving the breed so much and appreciating the owners and handlers who did a wonderful job of conditioning and preparing the dogs for this show.

What are your thoughts on the 2024 show year so far? On the months ahead?

Karen McFarlane: I have a very positive spin on dog shows. The shows are just a bit different than years past and probably will not go back to being like they were a few short years ago. People are busier and having to make different choices in their lives. The economy, including the rise in travel costs associated with dog shows, has increased dramatically. But I see the situation as holding steady, which is a good sign. As a Show Chairman, I find scheduling breeds at the shows to be an increasingly challenging situation! Overall, the number of entries is somewhat more predictable than the past couple of years. But, it is harder to predict the actual specific breed numbers at a show. We just need to accept that the world around us has evolved and the dog shows will too! All good.