Interview with Vince Mulligan, Working Group AKC Judge
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as an AKC judge?
Vince Mulligan: I live in Petaluma, California. We have been in dogs for 54 years and I have been judging for 36 years.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Vince Mulligan: My original breed was, and is still, the Great Dane. We live with one bitch and one dog. Our kennel name is Paradise Great Danes.
Have I judged any Working Breed/Group Specialties?
- Black Russian Terriers
- Great Danes
- Great Pyrenees
- Neapolitan Mastiffs
- Saint Bernards
Are there specific qualities I admire most in the Working Breeds?
Vince Mulligan: Yes. In Bernese Mountain Dogs, this is what I admire about the breed; loyal, affectionate, eager to please, and intelligent.
How important are the breed hallmarks in the Working Breeds? Can I offer a few examples?
Vince Mulligan: Yes, the hallmarks are very important to learn and understand if you are interested in getting or (most importantly) learning a breed.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is highly intelligent, independent, and dominant. They think for themselves—a necessary characteristic for a livestock guardian. They’re very protective of their family and flock, and they consider themselves to be constantly on duty.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is known for being loyal, affectionate, eager to please, and intelligent. They have a happy-go-lucky attitude about life. Calm but gregarious, they are sometimes even a little goofy when they play with family.
The Newfoundland is a sweet-dispositioned dog that acts neither dull nor ill-tempered. Temperament is the Hallmark of the Breed. They are devoted companions, capable of draft work, and possess natural lifesaving abilities.
Black Russian Terriers are calm, confident, courageous. They have exceptionally stable nervous systems, radiating confidence and tranquility. Bred by the military, they are self-assured, loyal, and aloof toward those they don’t know.
Boxers are intelligent, high-energy, playful dogs that like to stay busy. They prefer to be in the company of their owners. They are loyal pets that will fiercely guard their family and home against strangers.
Can I speak to the general presentation of the Working Breeds in my ring today?
Vince Mulligan: Yes, we have many great Working Breeds being shown today. When I judge the Working Group, I spend a lot of the time trying to reduce my picks to just four dogs because there are a lot of great dogs I can pick from.
Do I have any thoughts/opinions on dividing the Working Group in two?
Vince Mulligan: First, we have 31 dogs at this time in the Group. My question would be why we need to change the Working Group into two Groups, and what would the two Groups be named? (This would also mean that we would have two Owner-Handled Groups.)
I have heard the other Groups want to divide their Groups. The shows could be going on until very late in the night. This dividing Groups should be well-thought-out before any changes take place. Also, the cost of programming for AKC and the superintendents will be very expensive… and guess who will pay for it?
What advice would I offer newer judges of the Working Breeds?
Vince Mulligan: I feel the most important advice that I can give (and not just for the Working Group but for any breed that you are going to learn) is that the standard is important, but what I believe is most important is to learn and understand what the breed was bred to do.
Also to learn and understand structure, movement, and balance for that breed, and what are the most important components that a breed needs to have to be able to do his or her job, not on the first day but also on the second day and so on.
“Form follows function.” The purpose of a building should be the starting point for its design. (Architect Frank Lloyd Wright changed the phrase to “form and function are one.”)
Another program that I believe you should learn and use is The Judges Rule of Fives. This is an infallible tool for defining breed type, and type is what we are looking at in the ring.
Which Working Breeds provide the greatest challenge to judges? To exhibitors?
Vince Mulligan: I don’t know about other judges as to their challenges in judging Working Breeds, but I don’t have a challenge or a problem judging any of the Working Breeds. The exhibitors that I have talked to understand exactly what I am looking for; proper fronts, backlines, rears that match fronts, and dogs that are moved on a loose lead and at a reasonable speed.
If I could share my life with only one Working Breed, which would it be and why?
Vince Mulligan: Great Danes, because they are great to live with. The bitches are very smart and they learn words, and the males are very sweet.
If I could share my life with only one dog, which dog would it be and why?
Vince Mulligan: Still, Great Danes, because they are great to live with. When you get old they are great to lean on.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Working Group?
Vince Mulligan: No, I don’t, but I do like the even/odd armbands that show the difference between dogs and bitches. This saves a lot of mistakes.
I do have one funny story when I did by first Best in Show. I had seven dogs in line, so how difficult could that be?
Now, I got to the Miniature Poodle and went to go over the dog when, the next thing I knew, I couldn’t even get into its coat; way too much hairspray. I thought the best thing to do, rather than fighting the coat, was to just move on—a great decision.
Interview with Vince Mulligan, Working Group AKC Judge
Featured image courtesy by the American Kennel Club (AKC)