Interview with Sporting Group Judge Debbie Melgreen.
1. Where do you live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
2. What is your original breed? What is/was your kennel name?
3. Can you list a few of the notable dogs you’ve bred? Any performance or field titles?
4. How important are Performance and Companion titles in a Sporting Dog?
5. Have you judged any Sporting Breed Specialties?
6. Do you find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Sporting breeds?
7. Is breed-specific expression important to you as a judge? Can you offer some examples?
8. What are your thoughts on the current grooming practices among the coated breeds?
9. Are the Sporting breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns?
10. In your opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Sporting Dogs of the past?
11. Why do you think the Sporting breeds make up a large portion of the typical show’s entries?
12. Just for laughs, do you have a funny story you can share about judging the Sporting Group?
Sporting Group Judge Debbie Melgreen
I have been involved in dogs most of my life, being a second-generation dog person. I showed my first dog (a Brittany) in 1968.
I began my career as a professional dog handler in 1976 and was a member of the Professional Handlers Association, of which I am a Hall of Fame Inductee.
My husband, Steve, and I breed Brittanys and Standard Smooth Dachshunds under the Melridge Kennel prefix. In Brittanys, we have had numerous Best in Show and Specialty winners as well as one of the leading sires in the history of the breed. Our Dachshunds have included several rated in the Top 10, Group winners, and Specialty winners as well as the top-producing Smooth bitch in 2012, CH Melridge Picnic in Paris – SS.
In 2014, I retired from handling and received my approval to be an AKC judge in April of 2015. I am currently approved for the Sporting Group, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, the Herding Group, Miscellaneous, Junior Showmanship, and Best in Show. In 2019, I was given the privilege of judging the American Brittany Club National Specialty—truly a breeder’s dream!
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge? I live in Yates City, Illinois, a small town 25 miles west of Peoria. I have been in dogs, basically, my entire life, since my parents were in the sport.
What was my original breed? What was/is my kennel name? My original breed is the Brittany. My kennel name is Melridge.
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or field titles? My foundation stud dog, CH Do-Well’s J. B. Jason CD (I did not breed him), is one of the leading sires of bench champions in breed history. He was a multiple all-breed BIS winner, won the National twice and the ABC Summer Specialty between those two Nationals! He also earned an all-breed High in Trial in Obedience and is the ONLY Brittany in breed history to achieve both all-breed BIS and High in Trial honors! He is the basis for my entire breeding program for which we have had BIS winners, Specialty winners, Hunt Test title-holders, and many ranked in the Top 10 over the years. Some who come to mind are BIS/BISS CH Melridge Stir N It Up, BIS/BISS CH Melridge Playin’ With Fire, CH Melridge Two-D Winjammer, and CH Melridge Two-D Fowl Play. Many of our dogs have been placed in hunting homes and are excellent personal gun dogs!
How important are Performance and Companion titles in a Sporting Dog? I believe Performance and Companion titles are very important in a Sporting Dog! In my breed, the breeders work very hard to keep the dual dog principal alive. Brittanys have more Dual Champions than all other breeds combined! Whether you actually field trial, participate in hunt tests, or have a personal gun dog that does not compete but fills your freezer every year, it is important that a Sporting Dog can still do his job!
Have I judged any Sporting Breed Specialties? Yes, I have judged many Sporting Breed Specialties. I was fortunate enough to have judged the American Brittany Club National Specialty… an honor that I will forever treasure! I have judged many others, including host shows to Nationals in several Sporting breeds!
Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Sporting breeds? In reference to size, proportion, and substance being correct in most Sporting breeds, I think some breeds are in good shape, and some need improvement!
Is breed-specific expression important to me as a judge? Can I offer some examples? Yes, breed-specific expression is important to me as a judge! Expression can be so different in various breeds and is part of what makes that breed what it is! I would not want the Toller’s “slightly sad expression until they go to work” on a Brittany whose expression should be “alert and eager, but with the soft expression of a bird dog.”
Expression can be so different in various breeds and is part of what makes that breed what it is!
What are my thoughts on the current grooming practices among the coated breeds? On current grooming practices, I think, in many cases, we are getting carried away with over-grooming.
Are the Sporting breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns? As with most breeds, fronts are an on-going problem!
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Sporting Dogs of the past? In my opinion, some breeds have improved over dogs of the past, yet in so many others, I feel we have slipped.
Why do I think the Sporting breeds make up a large portion of the typical show’s entries? I think Sporting Dogs make up a large percentage of the entry for several reasons. For one, they are a large Group, so this accounts for part of it! Overall, the Sporting breeds are a popular choice for people who have a variety of interests, so there are larger percentages being shown. Plus, their temperaments, overall, lead to them being a popular choice for a family to own and show!
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story I can share about judging the Sporting Group? Right off-hand, I can’t think of anything funny that has happened yet in my ring judging the Sporting Group… I’m still waiting for it!