Interview with Sporting Group Judge Gary Andersen by Showsight Magazine.
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 Gary Andersen
I started in dogs in 1974, showing English, Gordon, and Irish Setters, and English Cocker Spaniels.
I served 10 years on the National Board of the Gordon Setter Club of America. I have been the Judge’s Education Coordinator for the past eight years and have revised the Illustrated Standard. I am Past President of Scottsdale Dog Fanciers, an all-breed club, and have also been Vice President, Treasurer, and Board Member. I have been a member for 30 years. I am presently the Past President and Show Chairperson of the Arizona Sporting Dog Association, of which I am one of the founding members. I received my AKC judging license in 1993, initially approved for Irish, English, and Gordon Setters, English Cockers, and All-Breed Junior Showmanship. I am now licensed for the Sporting Group, Hound Group, Working Group, Toy Group, Non-Sporting Group, 16 Terriers, two Herding Breeds, the Miscellaneous Breeds, and Best in Show. Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge? I have lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, since 1983. I have been in dogs since 1974 and have been judging for 27 years, starting with the Sporting Group, and have expanded to five Groups—and I enjoy judging all five.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name? I started out with English Setters, but never bred them. My wife grew up with a Gordon Setter as a neighbor and she always wanted one. So, we saw an ad in the Sunday paper and went to look. Well, one crawled up into my lap and it went home with us! It wasn’t a show dog, but we tried to show it to no avail. We also bought an English Cocker bitch, and we bred more champions with them than with the Gordons. We also owned and bred Smooth Fox Terriers, and one won the futurity at the National. We are no longer breeding, as we are not home enough to do the puppies justice. We used Omega as a kennel name.
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or field titles? We never campaigned any of our dogs. We were happy with their championships and with producing a better example of that breed. We did dabble in Obedience, and have a Smooth Fox now that has her Trick Dog title. LOL!
How important are Performance and Companion titles in a Sporting Dog? I am a proponent of Hunting Titles, Obedience, and Rally. Most of the breeds do very well in all aspects of performance. You know the old saying, “form follows function,” but I really think it is the other way around: function follows form. If they are crippled, they probably will not perform that well.
Have I judged any Sporting Breed Specialties? I have judged the Irish and Gordon National Specialties, and am slated to judge the Irish Red and White Setter National this year. I have also done multiple Regional Specialties in other breeds.
Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Sporting breeds? This is an “ebb and flow” thing. I’ve seen breeds become taller, then come back down to size and, sometimes, go smaller. Overall, I think that most are now close to their required size.
Is breed-specific expression important to me as a judge? Can I offer some examples? Most Sporting breeds call for a soft, welcoming expression with a dark eye color, except for the breeds that have a dilute color gene; then, matching the color of their hair.
What are my thoughts on the current grooming practices among the coated breeds? Let’s face it, we Americans like to make our dogs look pretty! I am just as guilty as anyone on this. Is it functional? No. Coat to the ground in the field is a disaster waiting to happen! (I do know that cactus burs are really hard to get out!) I think it can hinder in some of the performance events as well, but it is attractive!
Are the Sporting breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns? Overall, I think Sporting breeds are in pretty good shape. Across America, we do have pockets of really good and some pockets of not-so-good. But with chilled/frozen semen, the not-so-good areas are becoming smaller. When I first started judging, I could tell that there were one or two males in the area being used, as no one wanted to ship their bitch across the country to be bred.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Sporting Dogs of the past? WOW, that is tough. We have more dogs to look at now than in the past. But I think many of the breeds have evolved into stronger and better-looking examples. We have much better tools to use to make our choices; X-rays, DNA, genetics, etc.
Why do I think the Sporting breeds make up a large portion of the typical show’s entries? They are easily trained and most of them fit into their family’s lifestyle. They are eager to please and will do most anything for food! We always told new owners to be careful; if their pet gets out and someone finds it and feeds it a couple of times, they are at home there.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story I can share about judging the Sporting Group? Way too many to single it down to one or two.