Should AKC Judges Solicit Assignments?

akc judges

Each month we ask our readers to give us their thoughts on a variety of subjects. Thanks to everyone who offered opinions on this month’s topic. The following is a selection of the responses. Want to voice your opinion to the fancy? Follow ShowSight’s Facebook page for the monthly question prompt!

QUESTION: Judges are currently allowed to solicit assignments; this is a vast departure from times past. How do you feel about this policy?


I have bred and shown five breeds of dogs over 60 years, I have seen the total corruption of the judging process. You can pinpoint the day it happened with the changing of the strict requirements for being a judge of a breed in the first place, it happened when those strict requirements for judging were lowered by AKC to meet the demand of the booming dog show not hobby anymore, but business, the secret is out most shows are fixed by paying off judges with money or politic favors for judging assignments. The cost of Showing a dog has gone up so much that most of the hobbyist can no longer afford to show and entrees are declining at an increasing rate. We need to go back, and change the requirements to what they were. In a dog show a judge should know the standard like the back of their hand is the only way one can improve any breed. The other point is no longer allow clubs to change standards once written and approved, this constantly changing of the rules is adding to the confusion of having good judges in the first place.


Well regarded judges do not need to solicit. This practice needs to be stopped by the AKC. This policy was put in place in part to put permit and provisional judges on a more equal footing as established judges. AKC can and should inform club officials and the public in other ways to let them know who the new provisional and approved judges are. Lists are currently published in the Gazette Secretary’s pages but may not catch the eye of club officials. I know many who no longer read the Gazette because it is online.


Terrible idea. We already deal with judges biases. 


As a show chairman and judge I have never been in favor of it, I would never give a judging assignment to a person soliciting. With the latest revision, to obtain regular status from a permit breed policy, I believe it requires us to solicit, otherwise could take well over three years to obtain regular status.


I am 92 year old Judge Emeritus. I have judged Rottweilers and Dobes in 17 different countries some of them multiple times. I never found it necessary to solicit assignments. My granddaughter, Chandra Klem, is applying to judge Rottweilers. I do not expect that she will need to solicit assignments. 

—Joan R. Klem

It’s a job so why not. Seems like a good idea.


Judges have always solicited judging assignments—just very subtly. So I do not see any reason why it should not be okay.


Not a good policy and I am a judge. Creates WAY TOO MANY POLITICAL AGENDAS.

—Carolyn Gold

I am answering as a judge. I do not like it and I would never do it.

—Kimberly Meredith-Cavanna

It could lead to situations where “following the judge” is reversed and call into question more often the objectivity of judges’ decisions in the ring. Maybe others do not see it this way or agree but it could set up situations that look like the assignment from breed to group to BIS would favor certain handlers or dogs.

—Virginia Hoffman

I do not approve of solicitation for judging assignments.


Should not be allowed.


Not a good idea—I believe it will turn into a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” with no concern for merit or entries.


May be that I’m older than many competitors and show committee members, but I don’t like being contacted by a pushy potential judge. I prefer to have judges chosen by recommendation of exhibitors and the prospective judges reputation.


Yes, if course. It’s their freedom of speech.It actually should be solicited on a level done tactfully. 


I feel that show chairs are entitled to as much information as possible about judges in order to put together a panel. Even if that information comes from the judge himself. 

It’s hard to know who the judges are and learn anything about them. But you learn a lot when you speak directly to them, either in person, on the phone, or on email. 

A self-promoting egomaniac might not be the kind of judge you want for your exhibitors. But a polite person who gives you their card? Or sends you an email saying they are available? You can always investigate further. That judge might be one you’d like on your panel. 

The conversation might go like this: Judge: “I wanted to let
you know I am now approved to judge Chihuahuas, Maltese,
and Yorkies.” 

Show chair: “I didn’t know that. I saw you judging German Shepherds and thought you were a Herding judge.”

Judge: “I am a Herding judge. I just got approval for these toy breeds last week. I’m looking for provisional assignments as the AKC requires five before you can advance to regular status. Most people don’t know I also judge toys, so I’m putting the word out.”

This is information passing between two people. The show chair is free to do what they like with it. 

It’s hard to see how providing information to a show chair, even if it is about yourself, can be construed as a bad thing. The show chair now has one more name to add to their list. They don’t have to hire that person. 

I think all judges should keep a bio in their computer, and send it out to show chairs when they get approved for new breeds. I’m taking the position that more information is a good thing, and useful to the busy and beleaguered show chair.

Until 1977, lawyers and doctors were prohibited from advertising in the United States by their bar associations. The Supreme Court took the case of Bates vs. State Bar of Arizona and ruled that prohibiting someone from advertising is a violation of the First Amendment which guarantees the right of free speech. The AKC’s lawyer probably mentioned this to any member of the Board of Directors who wanted to prevent dog show judges from telling people they are available to judge. 


Judges should not be permitted to solicit to judge specific breed events at shows.

—William Sparks, Esq.

I do not think it is a good idea. However, one sees judges who belong to a club putting a judge on their club’s panel in exchange for that judge doing the same for them. Kind of the same lack of ethics in my honest opinion.


Negative. A judge’s ring results should serve to draw assignments. Allowing direct solicitation by judges only serves to increase the “political” accusations that plague the AKC.


I am completely against judges being able to solicit assignments! I believe having to build a reputation on ones merits should out weight all other ideas!

—Anne Katona

Many of us who “grew up” under the old system find it difficult to solicit assignments—seems a little dirty somehow. The new judges seem to have no problem and are quite pushy at times. Not to say some solicitation or trading of assignments didn’t happen under the old system. But for quite a few it felt like the clubs appreciated the honorable job we were doing and so hired us. Times change and I think it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to go back to no solicitation allowed.


Why Not? Politics rule the world today and whereas judging was once a long-time fancier’s way of giving back to the sport, that time is long gone.

—Barbara “BJ” Andrews

It is a huge help to judges and encourages clubs to reach out
to different judges, rather than relying on the same judges over
and over.


I feel this may bring out “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” situations. I wish all judges would judge the dogs themselves. 

—Kay McGuire

This has been going on for decades despite policy. So nothing has changed.


Its not like it didn’t happen even before it was allowed. Mixed feelings about it. Depends on the approach.


I’m against this. I know too many handlers and judges with very close relationships and when this is allowed the cards are stacked against the rest of us.


I have mixed feelings about this because I can see both pros
and cons. I can understand if a judge is planning on visiting relatives around the country and would be available to do judging at
a local show. The judge should not charge expenses to the club
since they were going to be there regardless. So that could be a
win-win situation. 

I don’t know why the same judges are on the same circuits year after year. Do clubs just automatically ask them back every year? Or do the judges reach out to the clubs every year and ask to be hired again next year? All I know is that the clubs lose entries because the same judges are used over and over again. We would like to see new faces and new opinions.


Wow, surely this cannot be true! That’s my first thought! Now, it is quite conceivable that a controlling body might bend to such a decision simply because soliciting has become the norm and so rather than fight it, it gets a pass!

I know plenty in my own country and the country in which I’m currently located, who make it their life’s work and to a great extent are hugely successful based on the premise of, if you don’t ask you don’t get, and take rejections in their stride. 

Worse, these folk are in my opinion a blight on the sport because, it does not just end with an assignment. There but for the grace of God goes any hope of integrity or honest judging, even if the person happens to be a good or better adjudicator. Mostly they are basically in competent, finding difficulty to get any assignments. 

In my 60 years in the game, and age 83, and almost 50 years as a Licensed judge, I feel so good in my heart and soul that i have never stooped to this soliciting, having officiated many Times in many countries including the U.S.A on repeat invitations.

—Keven Harris

They did it “on the sly” before the restriction was lifted and will do it again of the rule is re-instated.


I oppose any move to give them more advantage of choosing who is on the end of the lead, not the quality of the dog.

—Jerri Miller

I believe it is unethical. I was shocked and amazed when AKC changed their policy.

—Betty White

I think judges who send out mass mailings to clubs begging for assignments show a serious lack of class. On the other hand, allowing judges to post their new breed approvals (or needed permit assignments) to a list of judges and show chairs makes perfect sense. So permission to solicit is OK with me but as with all things, it should be handled with good judgement.


I don’t like it at all. It makes me very uncomfortable when I’m with someone who does it. Maybe that’s because I come from the old system, but I think it’s poor form. 

—Nancy Liebes

I have mixed feelings about this, but my leaning is against it, as it opens the door for pressure, even bribery. On the other hand, new judges need a way to let Show Chairs know that they have been approved and are available. I don’t have a firm answer.

—Anthea de Forest

What is the difference between this and the good old boy,
gal network?


I don’t think it’s ethical at all. If a judge is knowledgeable as to breed standards and impartial, then they will be in demand and won’t have to solicit themselves!


With mixed feelings. It is nice not to worry about crossing a line, but there is so much over done, too, by some.


Something I have never done, now will. To do this is in my humble opinion showing a lack of faith in the judges ability to be asked to officiate based on his/her own merits.

—Gary Doyle

I hate the policy that allows judges to solicit assignments. I realize it is difficult for newer judges to get assignments, but I guess I am absolutely from the old school. I think this solicitation has added to the diminishing the “status” of being a judge. There are many—especially those using social media—that are practically pimping themselves to get an assignment. I am ok with a new judge speaking one on one with people he knows to get starter assignments—that is how we all started. After your first couple of assignments, exhibitors either liked what you did and you will be asked to do more shows, or they will not trust your knowledge or integrity. Anyway just my honest opinion.

—Sid Marx

I think there is nothing wrong with this. I have chaired all breed shows off and on for 35 years , so going back before this was allowed. I never did see an issue with it and did not understand why they did not allow it so am glad the rule was changed. Not a lot of judges do it, especially the older ones.

—Vickie VonSeggern

It would depend on their reasoning. Think it would make it easier for clubs to hire if there was a general database with regions judges would travel too, costs to be incurred and just a location for show chairs to see updated possibilities rather then lists of judges who are either no longer judging or limit there area.


Policy is just fine, should be allowed to solicit assignments. 


Dislike it?


I am not in favor. Good judges don’t need to solicit assignments. The solicitation of assignments is fraught with potential quid pro quo. I will say the AKC website could be easier to review for available judges. My opinions, and not those of my club.

—Jon M. Green

I don’t think judges should solicit for assignments. I think this is bad for the sport. It is the club’s responsibility to select judges that they feel are best suited for their show. 


I believe, especially for new judges, this is acceptable. Many times, people are not aware they are judges until they solicit.


I feel it isn’t the way for clubs to choose judges — too many deals (swapping assignments) going on.


I have never solicited an assignment nor have I hired a judge who solicits me. I think it cheapens the sport.

—Sulie Greendale-Paveza 

How else is a judge supposed to let people know they are available? I don’t think it’s a big deal especially for new judges and
provisional judges.


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