What to do when a judge doesn't like you or your dog? #conformation
by Jessica Anlauf
So often I hear from competitors, "that judge doesn't like me" or "doesn't like my dog," or "that judge only puts up his or her friends or breeding partners," etc.
I recall attending a recent specialty show where people exclaimed how NOT surprised they were with the judges picks, because they all had either his dogs behind them or his friends' dogs behind them. They cried foul play.
But was this really a situation involving bias?
The short and simple answer, no.
This judge happened to also like my dog that I showed in front of him that day. I had no ties to the judge or any of the other people he awarded or their dogs. Why then did the judge like my dog? Well, it's simple: Because of his "style."
It is extremely important to understand what style is and how it affects a judge's opinion on the dogs in their ring.
Style is what makes a dog often times recognizable as being from a particular line or a particular era (traditional style dogs), or even a particular function (field style vs. show style), but although the dog is distinct, the qualities of that particular style still adhere to the breed standard. In other words "style" does not mean, "incorrect." It simply means a variation within the breed standard that is still completely acceptable.
Now why is this important to understand? We all have certain styles we like best and so do judges.
For example in the case of the judge above, the judge was NOT choosing his "friends" or dogs he somehow knew were down from his own line or his friends' line. Instead, he was choosing dogs that were of a particular style, and that style, logically, was a similar style to his dogs or those of his friends. That style happened to include my dog, and therefore he was included in his selections.
Both my dog and I were complete unknowns to that particular group of people, and the judge and yet because my dog was of a particular style this judge liked, he awarded him. Interestingly enough I picked out the BOB, BOS and WB and WD dogs as well, as the ones I would have picked, because again, that's the "style" I also like and think is most correct.
So what to do then if a judge doesn't like the "style" of your dog? Breed differently if you want to be awarded under that judge or simply don't show your dog to them. If you know that a judge does not like your style, rather than make excuses about how the judge must be biased or the show is rigged in some fashion, stop and think for a minute, what style of dog is this judge putting up? And if the judge isn't putting up your style of dog the only option you have is to not show to him/her or change your breeding program to adhere to the style the judge likes. It's simple as that!