Showsight staff sat down with renowned Working Group breeders and judges for a lively discussion about Working breeds.
1. Where do you live? How many years in dogs? How many as a judge?
2. Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs?
3. Can you talk about your introduction to the Working breeds?
4. Have you bred any influential Working dogs? Have you shown any notable dogs?
5. How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance?
6. Can you speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Any examples?
7. What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds?
8. Many of the Working breeds are large or giant dogs. Does size really matter?
9. Do you have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group?
10. Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport?
11. What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds?
12. Is there a funny story you can share about experiences judging the Working breeds?
Dr. Klaus Anselm & Joan Anselm
Klaus: We live in Charlottesville, Virginia, and have been “in dogs” since 1967. I grew up with Chows in Germany.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I am a tapestry weaver. I have exhibited my work across the country and have sold tapestries in the US and in Europe (anselmtapestries.com).
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? We started out in Giant Schnauzers in 1967.
Have I shown any notable dogs? We were successful in Breed, Group and Best in Show competition, but I am not sure how influential our dogs were.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? It is important to have a handler/exhibitor who knows and understands his dog and gets the most out of it.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Working dogs are bred for certain functions. The presentation needs to exhibit the soundness of the dog.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? Very important. Some Working breeds are bred to be guard dogs or for protection. They may be aloof and watchful. They may “talk” and need to be approached in a respectful, and not confrontational, manner. (Avoid eye contact.)
Does size really matter? No. It’s proven, if it is within the breed standard.
Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? Know the purpose of the breed (guard dog, sled dog, etc.) and try to assess if the dog presented can handle its job.
Joan: I live near Charlottesville, Virginia, in Keswick. I’ve always had a dog!
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? My interests have included horses, painting, needlepoint, pottery, bronze sculpting, skiing, volunteer work involving pet therapy in hospitals and nursing homes, and gardening at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? We spent 40 years in Colorado where our lifestyle dictated the need for a reliable, trustworthy, stable, alert, and robust pet. The Giant Schnauzer fit the bill.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs or shown any notable dogs? Yes and yes.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? Important; particularly breeder/owner-handled, competing against professionals.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Knowing how to present a coated breed, how to work a harsh coat, do the proper conditioning, exercise and diet, and socialization.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? Aggressiveness towards other dogs, guarding instincts, willingness to please, reliability. A lot can be seen in the eye of the dog; self-assurance, and tail carriage.
Does size really matter? No, unless it is addressed in the breed standard.
Do you have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? Provide space in the ring, never crowd. Special attention to the handlers’ control.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? The Giant Schnauzer, Terry von Krayenrain.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? Emphasis on soundness and temperament.
Is there a funny story I can share about experiences judging the Working breeds? There was a period in Colorado when four of us often competed in the Working Group with our breeder-owned exhibits: Pat Edwards with her Boxer; Jean Wilcox with her Doberman; Joan Anselm with her Giant Schnauzer; and Nancy Liebes with her Komondor.
We usually all placed, though it never came out the same way. Funny, unusual, and we all had such a good time.
Vincent P. Chianese
I live in Southeast Florida, just north of West Palm Beach by about 48 miles. I was raised in Northeastern Ohio, USA. My family always owned a dog; from a Scottish Terrier, my first dog at 5 years old, to a Miniature Dachshund, with several mixed breed companions in between, as we loved all dogs. When I got married, I bought a German Shepherd as a family companion and as a guard dog for my business and home. In 1978, while living in Sarasota, Florida, I bought my next dog, a Siberian Husky. She was my entrance into the dog show world. When I moved to Texas in 1979, I became involved with the Siberian Husky Club of DFW. This is where I learned the definition of “being used to build a major.” I learned and moved forward as my next Siberian was a far better dog. In 1982, I was at a show in Oklahoma City and, while watching the Group, I saw this lovely large white dog, a Great Pyrenees… and that was the end, so to speak. I searched for reputable breeders and soon found my first Great Pyrenees. Not intending to make the same mistakes once again, I spent time at ringside and stayed to watch the Groups many times. I found mentors who took me under their wings. I was afforded the opportunity to have nicer dogs, and asked for and received advice towards my limited breeding program when the time came.
I did finish all my show dogs as owner-handled (from the first point to the last), along with many Group placements and Best in Specialties—with one exception. One dog that was shown and finished by me traveled with a handler for about six weeks because I could not travel due to work. He won multiple Groups over that six-week period and, as a result, that Siberian Husky ranked seventh in Siberians that year.
I obtained my AKC judge’s license in 1992 with my original breed being Great Pyrenees, then, once approved for the Working Group (1998), I stopped showing dogs. I became involved with Portuguese Water Dogs, since my wife Sandy and I owned a sailboat. We did participate in water trials with “JD” (10/01/2006 – 06/21/2020), a retired champion and multiple water title holder. I also was honored to judge the Great Pyrenees National Specialty in 1999 and further honored to be asked to judge again in 2014.
I presently am approved to judge the AKC Working Group, six breeds in the Non-Sporting Group, Best in Show, Miscellaneous (which are the new breeds coming into the AKC) and Juniors. I have judged in South America, China, and Japan. I was invited to be involved in the formation of a new Regional Great Pyrenees club in North Carolina. That club has been formed and is known as The RTP Great Pyrenees Club. I am a past member of the BOD of RTP and a past member of the GPCA BOD.
I served on the GPCA Judges Education Committee for eight years.
Presently, my wife, our PWD, Viking, and I live in Southeast Florida during the winter months. For the most part, we travel the US with our motor home in the summer, ending with the PWD National in the late summer before returning to South Florida.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Yes, I build and fly remote control model airplanes. I’ve also been a boater for a long time. I learned to sail in 1967 on a small one design 19 ft. sailboat; went to owning and traveling on our 40 ft. Trawler. We now live and travel in our 44 ft. motor coach, or as we refer to it, our “land yacht.”
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? As I’ve said, I started with the Siberian, but one day at a dog show in the mid-80s I saw my first Great Pyrenees. With a bit more experience in making majors for others, I went about getting my Pyrenees a bit differently than my Siberian. From there, I was in the mix and once I received my license it became more and more interesting as these were the dogs that were, for the most part, still earning their keep. Certainly, the Herding dogs do as well, but this was just after the split of the [Working] Group.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs? No, I never was a big breeder. I had some litters, but not like other Siberian Kennels. Have I shown any notable dogs? I never was a professional handler, so that answer is no. But I did have a Siberian that I showed that placed seventh in the country that year. (Now I know seventh is not that great, but I was showing my own dog and did not have the budget that the first five Siberians had—as in the $75K to over 100K from their Japanese owners.) So, not counting them, we were Number 2, which was fine for me.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? I think the handler, professional or owner-handler, is important to all breeds—not just the Working dogs. Moving the dog at a speed that the dog looks good and goes down and back without sidewinding is the job of the handler. With some dogs, that is a different speed than the go-around. Yet there are those who do not quite “get it” and think that speed, both down and back as well as going around, is the be-all and end-all.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Yes, I can. For instance, Siberians need to be on a loose lead. Stringing the dog up prohibits him from putting his head forward as he moves, and it restricts the front movement. But some folks show them like a Standard Poodle. When the dogs are stacked, some people overstretch the rears, which makes a dog with perfectly good angulation look all wrong in the rear. A perfectly square Boxer can be set up to look off-square and have a sloping topline. Breed-specific presentation for that breed is important. Juniors are judged on this, and some handlers seem to forget it.
What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Working breeds? It is important. Most of the Working dogs have done some guard duty at one time or another. How is a Pyrenees, Doberman, Cane Corso, Bullmastiff or any other [similar] dog going to be able to do their work if they shy away when someone approaches? When examining the dogs, you can get somewhat of a sense of the dog. But if, after the exam, when you walk back up to the dog, it shy’s back or the handler is trying to keep it from retreating, you now know. We cannot reward this in Working Dogs.
Does size really matter? Yes, it does. But “proper” size is the answer. The standards give us a size and, in many, there are DQs. (But this does not do any good if no one measures the dogs.) A 24” Siberian dog is going to stand out. It needs to be measured. Not only if it is going to be used, but also to send a message that we do not want them in the ring. Back in the old days, we could get the superintendent to bring the wicket over to my ring before the Siberians or Akitas were to go in. Yes, the entry would go from 47 to 43 sometimes, but it showed that I would measure. So, they just did not try.
Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? My only advice is that when they are at a show and have the time, to go observe the Working dogs. Siberians do not move like a Malamute, yet they are both sled dogs. I believe these little nuances need to be learned. They can only be learned from observation.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? The Malamute, CH Nanuke’s Take No Prisoners, aka Tyler. Others that comes to mind are the Doberman, CH Brunswig’s Cryptonite, as well as CH Rivergrove’s Run For The Roses, a Great Pyrenees. And more recently, GCH Claircreek Impression de Matisse, a Portuguese Water Dog. This last dog also goes back to my point that moving the dog at the correct speed for the down and back and the go-around is important—and they are not necessarily the same. The handler of this dog had it down pat.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? It is my opinion that there are two things that can be gained from observing most of the dogs in the Working Group: Structure and Movement.
Is there a funny story I can share about experiences judging the Working breeds? One time, out in California, I had awarded a Bernese Mountain Dog a Group placement. We were taking the photo and a person off to my right kept saying, “Vinny… Vinny… Vinny!” By the third time, I turned and asked, “What do you want?” only to find out that she was the dog’s owner and the Berner and I shared the same call name.
Marie Ann Falconer
I live in Athens, Tennessee, and have been exhibiting for 48 years and judging for 15 years.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Traveling!
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? I always loved the Siberian Husky, but was not allowed to have them while living on a working farm. So, once I was on my own after college, it began.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs or shown any notable dogs? I have bred over 120 champions, mostly Siberians. But I’ve also had five generations of Rottweilers. One of my top bitches, Libby,
produced eight Best in Show offspring and multiple top-producing get as well.
The most notable show dog was the famous “Rocky,” Ch Seeonnees Point Blank; the winingest Siberian of all time, defeating the most in breed history. Also, I handled his dam, Vanna, who had 17 champion get. Many more greats through the years.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? I believe you need to make sure these dogs do not lose their type; for what they were originally bred for. Too much generics these days and not enough breed-specific qualities.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Less “fluff and puff” and better quality of coats is needed.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? I want form and function. Newfs need correct coats. Rottweilers need balance and muscle. Siberians need more leg and prosternum. Standards need to be square with good hard coat, and Portuguese need swimming capabilities.
Does size really matter? For me, is there a height DQ? Then, yes. Danes should be regal and aristocratic—like years ago. Dobermans seem to be much finer in bone. I want a strong Working dog.
Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? Please be respectful and study the breeds’ key points.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? LOL. A GSD from way back, and probably a good-moving type specimen.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? Their strengths and soundness.
Dr. Linda M. Fowler
I reside in Columbia, South Carolina, and began showing at AKC events in 1976, as an owner-handler. I have been an AKC judge for approximately 30 years.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Since retiring from the healthcare arena, I have dabbled in some volunteer work. But quite frankly, even though I no longer breed, I spend the majority of my time in dog activities—assisting other breeders, mentoring, etc., as well as exercising and training my one and only dog in a number of venues.
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? My first AKC registered dog was a Newfoundland, bought as pet companion. But once we tried showing, I was “hooked.” I went on to owner-handle that Newf, a Giant Schnauzer, and multiple Portuguese Water Dogs to their championships. The Working Group, therefore, became of great interest.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs or shown any notable dogs? That’s an interesting question posed to a breeder. When you have been fortunate enough to produce National Specialty winners and multiple BIS winners in your breed, you obviously feel that they were influential Working dogs. But most likely, they would not be considered “notable” to the general fancy.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? Obviously, you would hope that the handler (whether owner or professional) understands the nuances of the breed to present the best “picture.” But frankly, I am more interested in the quality of the dog than the talents of the handler.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Hopefully, every serious breeder has a desire to have their dogs presented in a breed-specific manner. However, at more times than we would like, the concept of “showing” becomes the ultimate goal.
Examples might include color-enhancing, deceptive (sometimes overly-done) trims, and “racing” dogs not built for speed around the ring.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? I evaluate each dog in relationship to the work they were bred to do, which is ideally defined in the breed standard, i.e., type, structure, and temperament. Often, the temperament piece is overlooked because the appearance of the dog is what the judge wants to see. I believe that temperament is of the utmost importance when you have a breed that was developed to “work” with/for people. Aggression cannot be tolerated in any breed, but of equal non-tolerance is a shy/timid Working dog. They should exude confidence.
Does size really matter? Bigger is NOT always better. Even though some breed standards in the Working Group speak to size being desirable, it should never be at the expense of type, structure, balance, and temperament, as long as the dog’s size is within the specified range.
Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? As stated previously, do not disregard the desired temperament of the breed. Pay close attention to the dog’s balance as they move. “Wide-open” trots, showy back kicks, extended necks, etc. are not conducive to effortless gait.
And most importantly, put your hands on the dog. Of course, this sounds obvious for a coated breed (where a multitude of sins can be hidden), but even the short-coated breeds may “look” great. However, when you feel them, they may lack the muscling and conditioning needed to work.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? After 30 years, that would be quite a list and I prefer to let their outstanding records speak for them.
However, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I have been pleased with most of the new breeds that have entered the Group over those years—with structure, type, and temperament. These breeders are doing a great job.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? These dogs were developed and bred to work—showing is not their major job. Yes, there will always be those “showy” exceptions, but each dog needs to be judged against its standard, which relates to the work it was bred to do. Indeed, form should follow function.
Is there a funny story I can share about experiences judging the Working breeds? Most of the funny (and it most cases, embarrassing) stories shall remain untold… LOL.
Terri and I live in a brand new, small community in Iron Station, North Carolina, on a street aptly named Grand Champion Court. (The street was not even named when we picked out the lot.)
I got my first purebred dog, a Pug, about 60 years ago and left him with my family when I left home. I bought my first Great Dane in the mid-sixties, and he was the first dog I ever showed. In 1971, I was licensed by the American Kennel Club to handle dogs professionally and did so until I went to work for AKC in 1999. I have been judging since I retired in 2009. However, I have long contended that every time I agreed to handle a dog I had critically judged him/her before I ever said yes.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? We collect vintage umbrellas, canes, and (necessarily) umbrella stands. We also collect all manner of dog memorabilia and old dog licenses. The joy is in the hunt.
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? I was first married when I was in graduate school; my then wife had been raised with dogs and always wanted a black Great Dane. There was not a lot of color around back then, and I was fascinated by the brindle color. We found a litter of ten fawns and brindles and went to see the puppies. As I was in school and teaching part time, money was an issue. They had a puppy that we could buy for $85, but its tail was docked due to a rocking chair incident when the litter was first turned loose in the family room. I was not interested. In my terms at the time, I wanted a “whole” puppy. So, we left with a “whole” brindle puppy dog.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs or shown any notable dogs? By the time we had bred two litters, I was showing dogs professionally. AKC licensed handlers breed by breed, and I was only licensed for Great Danes. I chose not to compete against clients who were paying me to show their dogs, so I had no breeding program to speak of. Just before I went to work for AKC, Terri and I bred a few exceptional Bedlington Terriers.
I showed a few Great Danes that I thought were outstanding representatives of the breed, but none that achieved significant notoriety. One was a dog sired by a stud owned by a longtime client. I put the breeding together because I finished the dam and thought the breeding would really “click.” I encouraged the stud owner to take a puppy out of the litter rather than a stud fee. She did not. When the litter was just over a year old, the stud dog owner bought the rights to show and finish one of them. He finished in eight or nine shows when entries were consistently around 150. His first and only time out as a special, he won the Breed over a top-winning Working Dog in the country—and won the Working Group (when it still contained the Herding Group). His owners did not want to make a life out of our sport, and would not let him go anywhere without them. Another was an exquisitely beautiful and proper bitch that I accidentally started to handle. Her usual handler was stuck at another specialty across town, and I did not have a special at the time. She came to me cold, as a ringside pick up, and she won the specialty. She did win a number of Groups with me. However, the ride was short.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? The handler is extremely important, as in any breed. A great handler with a mediocre dog can beat a great dog poorly handled nine out of ten times. However, a good judge cannot be duped into beating that great dog. (There is a message in there). A good judge will find a good dog regardless of the handler. However, not all judges are willing to use a dog that is mishandled (or naughty). I do not care.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? All breeds have evolved with purpose, and everything about a good specimen should suggest that purpose. Everything the handler does in the ring should complement the exhibit, consistent with its standard and unique function—standing and moving. I have a laundry list of “no-no’s.” Dogs should not be crowded while they are baited. Dogs should be moved according to their unique structure regardless of how fast the handler wants to run or how fast the other dogs in the ring are moving. Working breeds certainly should be moved on a loose lead (and will if they are trained properly), and they will track well if balanced front to rear.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? I assume “character” means willingness to perform the function the breed is bred to perform. That is tough to assess in a conformation ring. If, however, a judge is sensitive and observant, it is easy to note an exhibit that does not have proper breed character. If a dog is reluctant or apprehensive, in contrast to aloof, it is not a good sign. It is not out of character for some livestock guardian breeds to be somewhat aloof, but they should never be fearful. A Working dog that is fearful or timid, in my opinion, does not have proper character and should not be used.
Does size really matter? Unless the standard says “bigger is better,” an exhibit that meets the standard is competitive. Enough said.
Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? While judging, do not stand and stare into a dog’s eyes. Approach them deliberately, and touch them with confidence starting from below the muzzle. Do not cover their eyes. Once you have your hands on a dog, maintain contact until you finish the examination. Do not slap them on the side or flank when you are finished.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? We should not forget that our sport is not showing or judging dogs. It is breeding dogs. In the nearly sixty years that I have been around this sport, I have come to believe that the dogs and bitches that have had the greatest influence on the sport are the ones that some dedicated, knowledgeable, longtime breeder has managed to carry around in the back of their station wagon or van, somehow finish, and breed. Then, they show the offspring, and a handler or another discerning exhibitor with means “discovers” one of them; a star. In my opinion, most of the dogs and bitches that have had the greatest influence on the sport have grown up, finished, and enjoyed the rest of their lives between somebody’s back yard and sofa.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? Working dogs are generally larger than breeds in other Groups, so their faults are correspondingly more obvious. I bred and handled many Miniature Pinschers early in my career, so I know whereof I speak. Min Pins have the same structural faults that Great Danes do. They are just a little less conspicuous. So, rather than note that the giant dog is “crippled,” figure out why it is moving “that way” and apply what you learn to how you see smaller breeds.
Is there a funny story I can share about experiences judging the Working breeds? This is way off the subject, but it is my all-time favorite dog show story and involves showing Weimaraners.
Thirty or forty years ago, Gerry Schwartz was judging Weimaraners at Silver Bay Kennel Club in Del Mar, California. (They were his first breed at eight in the morning.) It was a February show and a little chilly in the exhibition hall. Ric Plaut and I had young dogs in the first class. It was a class of two. The steward called the class, and I went into the ring first. Ric and I stacked our dogs, and Gerry came straight to me and gave me directions on how to use the ring and where to stop. Then he went to Ric and said, “You do what he does,” and pointed at me. Gerry went to the center of the ring and signaled that he was ready. I looked at Ric, and asked if he was ready. He said, “Yes.” So, I jumped up in the air, clicked my heels together and started around the ring. Ric jumped up in the air, clicked his heels together and followed me around. Gerry nearly fell down laughing at the two fat guys running around the ring.
Gerry Schwartz was always a joy to show to.
Ronald V. Horn
I live in Greenwood Village, Colorado. I’ve had dogs all my life. I’ve been judging for fourteen years.
As a result of living with my Newfoundlands, I participate in a variety of dog-related activities, such as serving on the boards of Dog Judges Association of America, the High Country Newfoundland Club, the Evergreen Kennel Club, the Rocky Mountain Non-Sporting Club, and the Denver Foothills Tracking Association. I judge Water (Mentor) and Draft (Mentor) Tests for the Newfoundland Club of America, and do CGC tests for the AKC. I also teach seminars on Newfoundland Water and Draft activities, regularly serve as a tracklayer for AKC Tracking Tests, and am a Tester/Observer for The Alliance of Therapy Dogs Incorporated. In addition, I serve as an occasional instructor at Blue Springs ‘n Katydid Dog Training Center where I teach puppy kindergarten. I judge the Working and Non-Sporting Groups as well as Rally and a few Hounds. I’m currently working towards finishing the Toy Group.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I’m a serious photographer. My wife and I enjoy international travel. We have both traveled in more than one hundred countries and been on all seven continents. I also enjoy writing dog-related articles.
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? Though I grew up with Dalmatians, my fascination with Newfoundlands began in the early 1950s. When I went to college, my fraternity had a Newfoundland mascot. Somehow, he knew my fascination with the breed and he became one of my best college friends. In fact, he often attended classes with me. A few years later, our first Newfoundland became a member of our household.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs or shown any notable dogs? One of my bitches was owner-handled to the Newfoundland Club of America Top Twenty four years in a row. She is also the only Newfoundland to have been awarded in Best of Breed competition at the National Specialty, Registry of Merit, is a Versatile Newfoundland, and a Working Achievement Award winner.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? Great handling, either owner or professional, plays a major role in the success of any dog in the show ring. Sadly, incompetent handling can really decrease the likelihood of a good specimen being awarded.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Some Working breeds have breed-specific grooming standards. For example, Leonbergers are to be presented with no sculpting, scissoring, trimming of whiskers or any other alterations whatsoever, except for neatening of the feet. Black Russian Terriers should be trimmed so that the dog’s outline is clearly defined. The trimmed length of coat and leg furnishings may vary from 0.2 to 6 inches depending upon the location on the body.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? Of course, breed character are those qualities in a particular dog that define those characteristics that allow it to be categorized as a specific breed. For example, the Siberian Husky Standard calls for the length of the leg, from elbow to ground, to be slightly more than the distance from the elbow to the top of withers. In the case of the Dogue de Bordeaux, as the trot quickens, the head tends to drop, the topline inclines towards the front, and the front feet get closer to the median plane while striding out with a long-reaching movement.
Does size really matter? Size is defined in all the Standards and, in many Standards, size can be a disqualification. For example, a Great Dane dog measuring less than thirty inches, and a bitch measuring less than twenty-eight inches, would be disqualified.
Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? Take the time to learn structure and movement. After type, these two areas of the assessment of an exhibit will help you determine if the dog could do the work for which it was created.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? I believe part of judging is developing an interest in breed pedigrees. When I’m studying a new breed, I always like to have a conversation with my mentors regarding dogs from the past that have had great influence on the quality of the breed. In addition, I like to be aware of dogs that have proven to have the ability to do the tasks for which they were created. If I were considering Bernese Mountain Dogs, I would look at dogs that qualified for the club’s Versatility Dog Award.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? Working breeds provide excellent examples of dog structure and movement. If you have learned to correctly evaluate these two areas, there is great application to many other breeds. As an example, Pomeranians have the same skeletal structure as a Newfoundland—and actually move with the same footfall.
Is there a funny story I can share about experiences judging the Working breeds? Actually, this is about a judge to whom I always enjoyed showing my dogs. I had shown my Newfoundland bitch to this judge many times, and he had always awarded her. On this day, I decided to show the bitch’s son to him, and my wife showed the bitch. When it was time for him to make his awards, he said to me, “This is the best Newfoundland you have ever shown to me, but you know how much I like your bitch. So, today, she will be Best of Breed and your dog will be Best of Opposite.” He will always be one of my favorite judges.
Victoria M. Jordan
I lived in Ohio for most of my life, but chose to retire to Florida after shoveling snow for so many years! I now reside in The Villages, Florida, with my Griff “JR,” where we enjoy traveling around in our golf cart together.
I purchased an Alaskan Malamute puppy to save her from being sold to a pet store and the rest is history. I began showing dogs in 1967 and bred Alaskan Malamutes for over 35 years. Also exhibited Samoyeds, Keeshonds, Collies, and Pomeranians for friends
I’m a Lifetime member of Central Ohio Kennel Club, Columbus, Ohio. I was Show Chair for over 23 years. I served a term as President and served as a Board Member for many years. I’m also a Recipient of Outstanding Sportsmanship Award and am currently Vice President and Show Chair of the Citrus County Kennel Club.
I’m approved for Best in Show, Working Group and Herding Group, permit on the balance of the Non-Sporting Group, approved for Junior Showmanship and Miscellaneous, German Shorthaired Pointers, Labrador Retrievers, Weimaraners, Afghans, and Pomeranians. I am currently studying some Sighthounds and Toy breeds to consider judging.
All of these experiences have been quite a journey and I have made many great friends over the years and met many fabulous mentors who have helped me along the way. I have also lost many dogs over the years that I’ve loved very much, as I guess we all have experienced. My daughter gave me a plaque for Christmas that reads, “My idea of heaven is to get there and find every dog I’ve ever loved waiting for me.” I guess that says it all.
My introduction to Working breeds was in 1968, after saving a puppy from being sold to a pet store from a backyard breeder. That puppy was an Alaskan Malamute and the rest is history. She was my son’s constant companion, and he even watched his favorite programs while resting on her belly. I began judging in 1997.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I love to garden and travel. I also enjoy helping dog clubs put on their shows and I work with them to form clusters to keep our sport alive in these trying times. I also love working with junior handlers to enhance their showing abilities. The children will humble you with their work ethic, as they are very serious about being a great handler, and they work hard with their dogs to achieve success. This point was made to me, most emphatically, by my daughter through the effort she put forth in Juniors and with handling a most difficult breed for a 10-year-old—my Malamutes. My daughter’s efforts enabled her to compete at Westminster, and we were all so proud of her.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs or shown any notable dogs? I mostly handled my own dogs and I showed Samoyeds, Pomeranians, Keeshonden, and Collies for friends on weekends.
My homebred bitch was top in our Division in “my day.” I was unable to “special” a dog during that timeframe as my husband at the time had his own building business, and I had two young children to care for along with my own kennel to run.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? A handler’s responsibility, in my humble opinion, is to show the dog to the best of his or her ability. And it is also their responsibility to be familiar with the breed standard of that breed in order to accomplish the win.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Most handlers (professionals and breeders) today exhibit dogs too fast around the ring. This tells me that the handler doesn’t really know the breed standard. Sometimes, during judging, it is necessary for me to request the handlers to slow down. When they do this, most times the dog looks better when the gait is reduced.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? The breed standard will address the character that is expected of that particular Working breed. Some Working breeds accomplish their jobs individually and some accomplish their jobs in a pack situation. Each breed should reflect the character that is noted in the standard.
Does size really matter? A Working dog’s size is reflected in its standard, and some standards have size disqualifications for being over or under the required height that the standard requires. So, yes, size does matter under these circumstances, and some breed clubs give guidelines that they would like to see their breeds stay within.
Advice for new judges to the Working Group would be to pay attention to the temperament called for in the standard for each breed. Working breeds are just that, working. They have jobs to do and should be structurally and mentally sound to perform them. This advice, however, is for all breeds; not just the Working breeds.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? There are too many to mention. Just remember the purpose of the individual breed that you are judging and strive to award those specimens that most closely adhere to their purpose—and are properly conformed to do their jobs.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? Soundness can be learned from the Working breeds by being able to judge them according to the jobs they were created to accomplish.
My funniest experience in judging Working breeds was judging a 6-9 Puppy Bitch Class of Dobermans. When I came to the last puppy in the class, I went to open her mouth and, to my amazement, she opened her mouth all by herself with no assistance from me or her handler. It was like her mouth was on a hinge. It was hilarious!
I live in Brooksville, Florida, with my husband, John, and four dogs—after having lived in various parts of the Northeast for 30+ years. I have been in dogs 42 years, judging for 23 years.
Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I enjoy pretty much all things “dog.” But apart from that, I enjoy most things outside; bike riding, walking, travel, music, and writing.
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? We wanted a companion for our Lab/GSP mix and so we purchased our first Doberman (that had dysplasia, demodetic mange, and a bad temperament) from a pet store. This led us to seek out a good breeder, and thus began our long journey. We were very lucky to acquire an excellent dog that we promised to show and, as we moved up from the Class level to Breed and Group level, I wanted to learn more about the breeds we were competing with. I started reading and studying their standards, talking to breeders, owners, and handlers of the breeds, and learning a lot about them. There were always matches, and I started getting invited to judge at the matches and really enjoyed it. This led to my interest in judging the Working breeds.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs or shown any notable dogs? Our first showdog, Luka (Ch. Amulet’s Luka of Sno-Glenn CD) was the first fawn in the DPCA Top 20, the grandsire of the top Working dog of all time, and the sire of our first BIS and Top 20 winner, Zared (Ch. Brunswig’s Zared of Dabney). In our first litter, our male, Ledo (Am/Can Ch. Dabney’s Lookout for Ledo), produced two National Specialty BOB winners, owner-handled, WD/WB, two Top 20 winners, and numerous Champions. His daughter, Chili (Ch. Dabney’s Hot Enchilada of Lehigh), won her first of 15 BIS the first time I showed her as a Special at 12 months old, BOB at the National, Top 20 winner, BOB at Westminster, and produced Champions and a Ch. OTCH/ 20 Obedience winner. The most well-known dog that I bred/exhibited myself was Am./Can. GCh. Dabney’s Phenomenon CD RA NA NAJ CGC ROM Can RN, who was the #1 Doberman for three years, Top 20 Conformation winner, winner of 45 BIS, 50+ BISS, and producer of numerous Champions. His Am./Can. Ch. daughter, Sakura, (Am./Can. Dual Ch. MACH7 PACH Royal Future JP Sakura of Dabney RN MXB3 MJG3 MXP3 MJPB PAX XF T2B ROM LC-11L) whom I started running in Agility at five, was the first fawn to be #1 in any DPCA Top 20. One of the German Pinschers we imported from Finland, Jagger, (Ch. Clefell’s Jaguar) was #1, a two-time National Specialty winner and producer of our second two-time National Specialty winner and Am./Can. #1 dog, Toby (Am./Can. Ch. Dabney’s Snapdragon RE).
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? The handler (person showing the dog) is very important in that they are responsible for presenting the dog properly for its breed. This includes correct conditioning, grooming, movement, and overall presentation. When the dogs are lined up in the Group, it should be in a place that is appropriate for that dog to be presented and moved at the correct speed for its breed. Many feel that to win, the dog must be in the front of the line. So, many of the breeds are too far forward in the line and moved at an inappropriate speed for their breed. Proper grooming for the breed is also part of type, and when a dog is over-groomed or groomed inappropriately for it’s breed, even the best dog will lose type. It’s the handler’s responsibility to know the standard and present the dog properly.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Many times it’s assumed that since my original breed is Dobermans, I am going to emphasize the same (Doberman) characteristics in other breeds, but this is not the case at all. Each breed has its own unique characteristics and should be presented to appropriately highlight those characteristics. An example would be the presentation of a Doberman and a Great Pyrenees, which will be very different. While the GP will give the initial impression of elegance and beauty combined with overall size and majesty in a slightly rectangular dog, the Doberman will give the initial impression of an elegant, muscular, powerful, medium size, square, and energetic dog. The GP has a kindly, regal expression while the Doberman has a vigorous, energetic expression. The GP moves smoothly and elegantly (where ease and efficiency are more important than speed), while the Doberman gait is free, balanced, and vigorous. Each breed has a unique job and should be presented and moved appropriately for the job they were bred to do, even if they never do that job. Each breed has its own unique movement, so a Siberian Husky shouldn’t move like a Malamute, a Rottweiler shouldn’t move like a German Shepherd, a Great Pyrenees shouldn’t move like a Newfoundland, etc. All dogs should be presented appropriate for their breed.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? It’s very important to understand the breed character of the Working breeds because of the jobs they do. The way the dog is approached and spoken to, or not spoken to, determines how the dog reacts to the judge. Depending on the breed, the protection dogs may notice any quick or unusual movement, or strange sounds. On the whole, these dogs have confidence and don’t need to be coddled when examined. The judge should be confident in the approach and exam.
Does size really matter? The standards are very specific about size for a reason. A dog should be a certain size to best do the job it was bred for. So, even though a standard many not have a DQ for size, it does not mean that it’s not important for the breed to be within the desired size range. Not one of the larger breeds, but an example of the importance of size would be a German Pinscher (also known as the “middle” Pinscher); size range is 17 to 20 inches. A dog smaller may appear to resemble a Min Pin and a dog too large may resemble a Doberman. A breed should be unique and should not remind you of another breed.
Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? Have respect for the dogs. Be aware of your own—and the dog’s—body language. Be confident in your approach and examination, knowledgeable about the proper way to approach and examine each breed. Allow the dog to be completely set up before being approached, and do not approach the dogs from the rear. I like to keep a hand on the dog from the beginning to the end of the exam.
Is there a funny story I can share about experiences judging the Working breeds? I wasn’t judging, but I was showing my friend’s Rottweiler when Eleanor Evers was judging. When she tried to examine the mouth of the dog before me, the dog lunged at her, and she DQ’d it for attacking. Knowing that she’d previously had a finger bitten off, I was afraid that she was going to be nervous judging my dog, but she reached right in with both hands as though nothing happened and continued to judge the rest of the entry.
Rosemary W. Leist
I live near Portland, Oregon, in the “boonies.” As a fifth generation Oregonian, plus growing up in a logging camp and being married to a Forester, I prefer living in the woods. And having a kennel for many years (Alaskan Malamutes with a couple of rescue Siberians), it just seemed more comfortable for all of us. I started judging in 1975 after receiving a phone call asking if I would judge an Australian Shepherd specialty. I applied to judge for AKC in 1979. “We” have had Alaskan Malamutes since 1959. The first one was purchased by my future husband while we were just dating. He was Officer in Charge of a weather station on the Greenland Icecap and learned about the Northern dogs there; his first dog.
You will find in the following answers an emphasis on the Alaskan Malamute. Sorry for that folks, but having the breed for over 50 years, they are the ones that come to mind when I talk about Working Dogs and the Group. I do know a lot about the general Working Group dogs, but…
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? My husband and I met on a ski slope, so skiing, reading, square dancing—just normal living activities.
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? After pestering my parents for a puppy (for what seemed to me, years!) they finally acquiesced with a Border Collie mix puppy named Lassie—what else?? I trained her to climb ladders and to pull a sulky-type cart, etc., having her change gaits from pace to trot to gallop while doing so. Years later, after judging for a while, it finally occurred to me that I was recognizing differences in gait at nine years of age! So, my intro to Working dogs was as a young girl. (And at the time, Herding dogs were in the Working Group.) My husband was interested in sledding/racing our dogs, and I was fully supportive and also enjoyed working with the dogs in harness.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs or shown any notable dogs? We bred the Number One Malamute in the nation for a year or so, but we actually were more interested in the working aspects of our dogs. So, most pups went to working homes or as pets. Obviously, some were shown, but it was not the primary interest. I knew whether they were correct or not, so it was up to the buyers to decide if they wanted to show—if I thought the puppy would be a good specimen. I enjoyed showing our dogs, however, so they were always owner-handled by me. With advice and suggestions from a couple of well-known pro handlers, I became a very competent handler. I will always be grateful for their help. And, during nap time for our children, my relaxation was working/training my show dogs. I also showed in obedience and we had the first Malamute with an obedience title in the Pacific Northwest.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? A handler can make or break a dog. However, if it is a very nice example of the breed, a judge should be able to get enough glimpses to give it consideration—in spite of the behavior! Obviously, it’s easier for me if it is well-presented and behaving itself.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? I know going in what a breed was bred to do, i.e., their original job. I expect any breed to be physically capable of doing its job; sledding, herding, fox chasing, etc. Some breeds have a very specific gait and I want to see that. To be a little specific, I don’t want to see a Herding breed of cattle with a stop that could get them killed if kicked by a cow. The hoof would either crush the skull or take a portion off. That is an issue that I am very aware of, for instance.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? Having run sled teams for over 20 years, I still cannot read the “want to” in sledding dogs. You can train a sled dog to follow all commands, be very physically fit, and in great condition, but you cannot train them the “want” to run! That is inherent in the dog—and I just don’t know how to read that in a sled dog. A brat in the ring doesn’t mean he has the “want to go” in him. And some dogs that are expected to be tough, i.e., Rottweilers, Belgian Malinois, etc., are not supposed to show that in a show ring. I have judged breeds, internationally, that we are not supposed to touch. But having come from coated breeds, my hands tell me a lot. So, I find the “untouchables” more difficult.
Does size really matter? Yes, size does matter, according to their standards. But in some, “bigger” is not better! Giant Malamutes (yes, there are people breeding them) are not at all good for the work they were bred for. From breaking through snow on the trail, making much more work for the dogs, to eating too much, to being unbalanced, etc. As I have told some newer judges who’ve approached me, there is a reason that size was put in the standard—for any breed. Actually, I have always felt that there is a reason most things are put in standards, and it is our job as judges to try to follow the standards as much as possible. It’s not always easy!
Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? I guess, read your standards. Ask yourself why “that” was mentioned; if it was, there was a reason. Try to find out the reason, then do what it says. And for any Group, keep learning! I talked to Bill Holbrook (our AKC Rep at the time), having attended a sled dog club match, and I told him: “I learned something that day about the Malamute foot and why that purebred team was not able to complete the Iditarod race—because of sore feet.” Our standard calls for a large, snowshoe foot, but the breeder was breeding for a prettier cat foot! A cat foot is not able to handle the wear and tear on the feet because of the day after day of work. So, new judges, pay attention to the feet of Working dogs. I was stewarding for a new judge of the Working Group who knew that I was JEC of the national breed club at the time. I told him to judge the dogs, I would not say anything. Apparently, my face said it! He said, “That was a do-over.” I responded, “Next time, you might want to look at the feet.” I hope he learned something; the bitch he put up had flat, splayed feet. Also, he talked to a friend who has Hounds. He talked about their first Hound that had splayed feet. The dog couldn’t do a day’s work because the needles of the fir/pine trees gave the dog really sore feet. I think most breeds, no matter their original job, need good feet! (Toys, however, may be an exception.)
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? There were many, but I really can’t answer this. I think it depends on what the individual breeder is hoping to accomplish and which dogs they are impressed by.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? Don’t be afraid to get your hands on, and feel under, those coats. I know, the short-coated dogs are easily assessed, but your hands can still tell you a lot about the individual, coat or not. Just brushing your hands over the top of coated breeds tells you nothing except, perhaps, the texture of the coat!
Is there a funny story I can share about experiences judging the Working breeds? Nothing specific. There have been times when the entire class sees something and we all get the giggles, but I just can’t remember what triggered the laughter. I do know a comment, told to me by a show chair, that an exhibitor said to her about me as a judge. I still laugh about it: “I really like how Rosemary judges. She judges from the waist down!!” A compliment that made me laugh.
I live in Xenia, Ohio. I have 50 years in dogs, five years as a judge.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Golfing, gardening, and cooking!
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? My mother, Sylvia Jones, and I bred Siberian Huskies together. I began showing in Junior Handling as a child, which introduced me to many friends who are still close to me today. I started showing one of my mother’s Siberian specials when I was 12 years old. He became a multiple BIS winner and also won the National Specialty and Group Fourth at Westminster. I loved the sport and wanted to continue to learn and grow. I went to work for George Rood as an assistant because I had a love for Dobermans and he was a very well-known Doberman, Boxer, Boston Terrier, and Dachshund handler. I continued to work for him for nine years, gaining a lifelong friendship.
Have I shown any notable dogs? I have shown many Giant Schnauzers over the past 30 years as a professional that were No. 1 ranked, all bred by Sylvia Hammarstrom of Skansen Kennel. Ch. Skansen’s I Have A Dream was the No. 1 Working Dog and won the Group at Westminster. A beautiful Akita, Ch. OBJ’s The Coal Miner, was a top-winning Akita and top producer. The No. 1 Doberman Ch. Kamterra’s Legato was the AKC Centennial Show’s Working Group winner, and the Doberman Ch. Briarpatch Christmas Dream, who also sired many beautiful dogs. Along with my mother’s Siberians, I had the pleasure of showing a beautiful dog that produced many Siberian Champions; Ch. Highlanders Austin Powers, a really lovely dog. (I did not show him through his entire career, but enjoyed him for part of it.) And Rottweiler, Ch. Noblehaus Klark Kent. I specialed a Doberman bitch whose name you may not recognize, but her role was of great importance. Her name was Ch. Protocol’s American Dream CDX RN AX AXJ XF ROM SchH1. She only had six puppies in her lifetime, bred just once. Out of the six puppies, five became champions. Two were Best in Show winners. Three were Top 20 conformation finalists. One was in the Top 20 for obedience. One was in the Top 20 for agility. And one was Ch. Protocol’s Veni Vidi Vici, No. 1 Working dog, Westminster Group winner, Top Twenty winner, and the winner of four national specialties. She was truly the maker of dreams to come true.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? In the show ring, I believe the person showing the dog should only be the frame and the dog is the piece of art. So, you should not see the person showing the dog.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Mostly on movement; today’s handlers move the dogs too fast. They should know their standards. If it is to move like a lion, allow it to drop its head and move slower. If it is to move with its head forward, allow the dog to do so. A gait with determination? Allow your dog to own it. Free-flowing? What would look better! Ground-covering? Let your dog have the lead, it will move as it was bred to do. I suggest to have someone video your dog at different speeds (around, and down and back) and then see which looks best to you—it will look best to the judge as well.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? Breed character is such a great part of judging, and my favorite. In every standard, the first paragraph talks about General Appearance; the perfect place to find the breed character and the perfect description of the breed, beautifully described in words to judge by. Such as:
● All attributes necessary for the efficient performance of his job.
● Appears bold, but calm.
● Robust, Large, Powerful.
● Symmetrical animal showing great strength.
● Energetic, watchful, determined.
● Regal appearance, dignity, strength, and elegance.
● Light on his feet and graceful in motion.
These words were written by breed experts. Therefore, they are very important in judging those breeds.
Does size really matter? Only if it is written in its standard.
In many breeds, size might be determined by the job they are bred to do.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? The dogs that left a great impression on our sport would be the ones that were top winners and also great producers. They had it all; great genes, owned the ground they graced, and beautiful breed character. They were really just outstanding examples of their breed. Some that come to mind are Standard
Schnauzer Ch. Parsifals Di Casa Netzer, Rottweiler Ch. Carter’s Noble Shaka Zulu, Malamute Ch. Nanukes Take No Prisoners, Siberian Ch. Kontiki One Mo’ Time, Portuguese Water Dog Ch. Claircreek Impression De Matisse, Boxer Ch. Hi Tech’s Johnny J of Boxerton, Akita Ch. Tobe’s Return of the Jedai, and Doberman Ch. Protocol’s Veni Vidi Vici.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? The importance of the breed characteristics and how they play a role in the job they are bred to do.
Is there a funny story I can share about experiences judging the Working breeds? Not any one in particular, but I do find the 6-9 Puppy Class to always be hysterical. They do not really know how to use their big body parts, so they are like a Mack truck without a driver. And when you touch their heads to examine them, they just melt into you. How can you not find that adorable?
Thomson P. Stanfield
I live near Brighton, Colorado. I’m a third generation dog fancier. How many as a judge? AKC (21), ASCA (19), and ARABA (20).
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? You name it; raced stock cars, 4-wheeling, hunting, and photography.
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? Sure. My first Working dog was a Siberian Husky that we got in 1960. My second Siberian had 17 Group Firsts, but never a Best in Show. Prior to that I had Rough Collies (my first breed), Dachshunds, Cairns, and Westies. I have owned 19 breeds and I love them all. I have had at least one breed in each Group, shown and finished. In the Working Group, besides Siberians, I have had a Doberman Pincher. When I was young, my father had Great Danes, Beagles, Standard Schnauzers, and St. Bernards. Then he settled on Bassets.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs or shown any notable dogs? Taza’s Wild Wolf of Siberia CD, noted above.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? Good question. Not as much in the ring as in the training.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Not sure what you are getting to, but emphasize the movement in all Working breeds. Without movement, they cannot do what they were bred for.
What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Working breeds? Each breed, regardless of Group, must demonstrate the character of that breed.
Does size really matter? Depends on the standard and what they were bred for. They must be able to do that job.
Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? Pick the brains of the older judges. Most are friendly, no matter how they act in the ring.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? My favorite is Ch. Innisfree’s Sierra Cinnar; a great representative of the breed and a superb mover.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? MOVEMENT, MOVEMENT, MOVEMENT.
Is there a funny story I can share about experiences judging the Working breeds? When Judy Webb was a handler, she brought in a wooden pull toy to the Group ring in El Paso KC shows. The judge excused her for the “dog” not meeting the standard.
Deborah J. Wilkins
My entire life has been spent with purpose-bred dogs. I’ve been a judge for 20 years.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Bird watching, beach combing, painting with alcohol inks, and doing volunteer work for my local chapter of the Association of American University Women. I manage an online book sales site to raise money for scholarships for local women.
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? As a college student in the early 1970s, I shared a home for a few months with a woman who raised, trained, and showed Doberman Pinschers. She taught me the principles of responsible breeding practices and pet ownership. I attended her kennel club meetings and learned to ring steward at their shows. I traveled to dogs shows with her. She raised two litters and taught me about ethical breeding practices, pedigree research, and responsible placement of puppies. I bought a puppy from her second litter and the rest is history. When I graduated from college, I knew I was destined to become involved in the dog show community. In 1988, I purchased my first potential show dog, a Bernese Mountain Dog, and she changed my life. She became the foundation of Abbey Road Bernese Mountain Dogs and was my first American/Canadian Champion and Obedience title holder, and a BMDCA Top Producer of Champions and Obedience title holders.
Have I bred any influential Working dogs or any notable dogs? My first homebred litter produced a lovely male puppy, AKC/CKC CH. Abbey Road’s Here Comes the Sun AKC/CKC CD. On my first visit to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, he won Best of Breed. You will find this dog in many outstanding pedigrees of the dogs you see in the ring today. He was a Top Five dog in both the United States and Canada.
Do I have any advice to offer newer judges of the Working Group? Know your Breed Standards. Working Group breeds have unique job functions that require full assessment of breed type, correct structure, correct temperament, and the ability to do the job each breed was intended to do. Evaluate each exhibit for breed type, form, and function. Judging Working breeds is a search to find the exhibits that embody the most strengths. Fault judging does a great disservice to a breed’s type. Judging for the best attributes in each exhibit benefits the breed in maintaining correct breed type.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? There are many worthy dogs that I could mention—and I would love to have owned.
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? Bigger does not mean better. Use a gentle, but firm, hand to fully assess the heavily coated breeds.
Ruth H. Zimmerman
I live in Wilmington, Delaware. It was a great place to live when we were actively showing dogs. It is two hours from New York, two hours from DC, and central to all the great areas for exhibiting!
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I enjoy politics, and reading good books and educational books, as we are never too old to learn!
Can I talk about my introduction to the Working breeds? I rescued my very first Working dog. My neighbor, who was a serviceman in the air force and stationed in Alaska, brought this dog home. I realized that he could not keep this dog, so I took him and kept him until he died of old age. This dog was an Alaskan Malamute—and a great specimen. We learned to love the breed and, when he died, we had to have another one. We began to investigate breeders on the East Coast and met the Tarrs, from Lynchburg, Virginia. At that time, they were showing and winning with CH. ELDOR’S LITTLE BO. He was a multiple BIS winner, handled by George Heitzman. We went to a few shows to see Bo, and decided we needed a puppy by him! We were sure this puppy would grow up to be just like Bo. How wrong we were! She ended up being a long coat and severely dysplastic. We decided that we wanted a show dog, and got another bitch from the Tarrs, ELDORS LEA. She did finish her championship, with me handling her! That was the last I ever handled any of my dogs. LEA was bred, and from that first litter we produced a BIS dog! Talk about beginner’s luck! Tommy Glassford put the BIS on NORTHWOODS LORD KIPNUK. The year was 1974, most likely.
How important is the handler to the Working dog’s performance? A good handler helps a lot with the Working dogs! They are large, strong-willed, and can be bull-headed! (Not easy for a lot of folks.) I do know some great female handlers though, but their dogs are well-trained.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation? Breed specifics should be pointed out to a judge. Like in a Doberman, a gently sloping topline, a great headpiece; point it out to the judge. Great feet? Don’t hide them in the grass! Character should be pointed out too. A proud, standalone dog is wonderful, and not a shy dog full of fear. Many times, a fearful dog will bite.
Does size really matter? Size does matter in a Working breed! Many of those standards have disqualifications regarding size. The judge should know what they are and be prepared to use a wicket, if necessary! My advice to someone wanting to judge Working dogs is DO NOT SHOW FEAR. These breeds are very sensitive, and a fearful judge is waiting to be snapped at—or worse.
Which Working dogs from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? There have been many wonderful Working dogs from the past! Several great Dobes, Akitas, Porties, and Boxers, to name just a few!
What can judges of the other Groups learn from the Working breeds? Judges can learn much about movement regarding the Working breeds! Since they are large, some certainly can move better than others! To see a large Working breed move correctly is a sight to behold! They should move in a straight line, with great reach and drive, and no wasted motion. They should be able to do the job they were bred to do!
Funny story: My husband once left me on the show grounds. I was all alone, except for a few handlers I did not know who were packing up. My husband had mistakenly thought I was going home with someone else and, as usual, I was busy visiting with a friend who lived nearby!
I had to bum a ride with a total stranger!