American Judges in Italy

Dogs In Review sent some questions to a few American judges who officiated at shows in Italy during 2012. Their answers follow.

1. When did you start in dogs? Which breed/s? Kennel name? Most famous champions?

2. When did you start judging? Have you judged in other foreign countries besides Italy? If so, where? Was this year’s visit to Italy your first?

3. How do you feel your show experience in Italy compares to an AKC show? What’s the main difference? Was there anything you liked better? Anything from the US that Italy would do well to introduce?

4. Which breeds that you saw in Italy were the best? Which looked the most different from what you’re used to seeing in the US?

5. Please mention a couple of dogs in Europe (preferably in Italy, of course) that you really admired. 



1. I was a professional handler from the mid-1950s and retired after winning BIS at Westminster in 1973. I showed almost all breeds but was probably best known for Poodles. Not sure how many champions I finished, but as a pro handler I showed the No. 1 dog three different times.

2. Started judging in 1974. The countries I have judged in include Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Russia (which I love, have been there seven times and go again this January), England many times, Croatia, Italy twice, Australia twice, Japan and China. Loved Japan and am going again in November. Also Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

3. It is such a difference and such a pleasure going to judge in other countries. You don’t know the dogs or their records, and you just put up what you like. The shows are more relaxed and the exhibitors are completely different. I wish we had critiques in this country like they have at many FCI shows. It helps the exhibitor to know what you as a judge are looking for in a particular breed, and it also makes you as the judge think more.

4. I didn’t judge enough different breeds to comment on the shows in Italy, Terni and Orvieto, and the breeds I judged there I have judged many times in America. 

5. Dogs I got to see that I admired a lot: the Afghan Hound bitch, Ch. Al Nacira Bint Roula von Haussman, that Michael Canalizo gave the breed to. This is the same bitch that I gave the breed to at Westminster. She has done quite well in Europe and has amassed quite a record. I gave her the Group and Michael put her Best in Show. The dog that won the next day under Andrew Brace, the Bearded Collie Ch. Ho in Mente Te del Cuore, was beautiful, and there was a beautiful Maltese that placed second in the BIS competition, Ch. Cinecittà Diane Lane — beautiful head and a great body. The breed that impressed me a lot I did not see at this show, however, but I was fortunate enough to go see the most beautiful Azawakhs in the world after the show. To see these beauties move was pure joy. Their carriage and soundness is a delight. I think the AKC is making a big mistake in starting to have this breed at shows in America. They have a great reserve about strangers, and the judges that we have who love to “massage” a dog will have a hard time. This breed is not timid about letting you know they don’t like you! For me to see them in Italy was a thrill I won’t forget. These dogs were bred by Francesca Zampini and are presented at the shows by Patrizio Palliani.



1. I entered the sport via my parents Jim and Lee Canalizo’s purchase of Babu Bamn of Grandeur, an Afghan Hound from Sunny Shay’s Grandeur kennels in 1961. The family bred five generations of champion Kandahara hounds in both Afghan Hounds and Salukis. Our limited breeding with litters from Int. Ch. Shirkhan of Grandeur and other tight Grandeur-linked sires produced Group and specialty winners but none that were directly as famous as some of their get. From a few key breedings our dogs can be found in the pedigrees of Champions Tryst, Triumph and other Grandeur greats that I handled to many BIS wins in the 1980s and ‘90s, including No. 1 All Breeds with Tryst in 1994. 

2. I was first approved to judge by AKC in 2000. I have judged in more than 25 different countries and on six of the seven continents! Yes, I have exhibited and judged previously in Italy, both times in Milan (and may be doing so again in the near future).  Currently I am not judging in the US, as I am working for the AKC. 

3. The events I judged in Orvieto and Terni were both well run on unique and beautiful grounds. Naturally any show in mid-June could have weather-related issues, and for these events, heat affected the days. Both events did hold close to a time schedule, which sometimes is not the case. The exhibitors need to understand the benefits of being ready when expected. It is a two-way street for all involved. No one exhibitor should be entitled to disrupt others for their convenience, and if everyone took heed of that, the shows would run very smoothly.  A high level of quality was evident in the panel of judges and the dogs exhibited. My BIS final was on par with any event I have ever judged in the world. Both show officials were great and provided perfectly for all concerned … and that included both humans and canines! I spent some valuable time with my great friend Patrizio Palliani, one of the show chairmen, on how to maximize the show ring layout, which he will improve for the next event. 

4. This is an unfair question, as I had the honor of judging the Italian Afghan Hound specialty, and across the board my sighthounds were very strong, as is the case for much of Europe. Decisions in Afghan Hounds, Borzoi and Salukis were crisp and the competition exhilarating. Part of my trip included the opportunity to visit a top Azawakh breeder to gain a greater insight into this truly mystical breed. That alone was worth my trip, and I plan to go again in June of 2013. 

5. I wouldn’t know the names of the dogs I admired, and it wouldn’t matter regardless of the names. One lives in the moment when judging, and I did find some exciting examples in many breeds. Finding top dogs that have earned their reputation is always a plus, but it’s discovering a young dog with potential that gives one the “thrill.” I had this happen with my Junior Afghan Hound male and a beautiful Miniature Poodle. I predict bright futures for both these dogs.



1. Under the Pramada kennel prefix we started breeding Dachshunds, mostly Standard Longhairs, in the mid-1970s. We have since transferred all the Dachshunds to our daughter, Maggie, in Northern California. Now we exclusively breed Affenpinschers (since 2000). I would say the most notable Pramada dogs are the first and only Standard Longhaired Dachshund to win Group 1st at Westminster, Ch. Pramada’s Curmudgeon L, Ch. Insight’s Rumor Has It at Pramada and the Affenpinscher Ch. Tamarin Trevor, sire of 27 AKC champions to date with more on the way. Pam started judging in 1979 and Dave in 1995. Currently Pam is able to judge all the Hounds and Toys and 20 Terrier breeds. Dave can do all the Hounds. Pam has judged in Italy, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and Canada; Dave in Australia and Italy. The Purina Breeder’s Showcase 2012 was our first visit to Italy to judge.

2. The judging we did in Italy was the Purina Breeder’s Showcase. It was not an “official” show. Dave judged mostly Working breeds and I did Hounds, Dachshunds and Toys. It was in Ferrara in Northern Italy, and we had a marvelous time.

3. This was a unique experience judging. For each dog there were three judges: AKC, UK and an FCI judge in the classes. We were asked to rate each entry in four categories — structure; coat and condition; head; and movement — with a maximum ranking of 100. The ratings were for Excellent, Good, Fair and Needs Improvement. The idea was to give breeders some guidance in areas to improve, and where they were doing well. The highest-scoring dogs advanced to the Group level, sometimes more than one of each breed. The same categories were used at Group level to pick the three winners. BIS was done by all the judges with the same categories, and there was a BIS and a Reserve BIS winner. The winner was awarded a trip for handler, owner and dog to the Santa Barbara show in California in August. This year the winner was a very lovely Saluki, Ch. Delborghinoscardelarenta, that Pam had the honor of judging at the breed, Group and BIS level.  There were no entry fees for the exhibitors, and they seemed to take the written comments very well, good and bad. We had a steward and interpreter for each of the judges. They were also breeders and exhibitors in Italy, and we shared a lot of information. Just as an aside — the lunches were excellent and served with wine for those who wished it … a very nice touch. I am not certain how the AKC would feel about alcohol, but it was most enjoyable and relaxing. The atmosphere was not rushed or time sensitive as in the US, but when we started there was organization. Much better than at the World Show in Paris!

4. As it was not a “regular” show, there were not a lot of big competitors, but we found several nice dogs. The Saluki mentioned before was the clear winner. There was a Newfoundland puppy with much promise. As the FCI standard is very different from AKC in Dachshunds, I was not as impressed with those, but a few of the Miniature Smooths were quite nice. Dave thought the Great Danes were the most different and very lacking. We discussed this with a Dane breeder from the UK, and he agreed completely. Of course, they were all natural (no docking or cropping was allowed), so the Sporting and Terrier breeds were different in appearance. I find the Sporting dogs with “good” tails to be attractive, but the Working breeds, like Rottweilers and Dobermans, are difficult to judge. Two of the Toys that I saw, a Pom and a Peke, were bred in the US and lovely. Unfortunately, there was no catalog, so I have no names.

5. The critiques were a big difference from the US. I think the concept of critiques in specific circumstances would be most helpful to breeders, if they were given positively. Unfortunately, I don’t think most US breeders, and especially exhibitors, really want to know what the judge thinks in relation to the standard of the breed. They just want to win. As judges I think we need to really concentrate on comparison with the standard and its correct interpretation. This is not an opportunity to reward what we “think is correct” or what we “like.” It is the judge’s responsibility to know and understand the standard, purpose and structure of a specific breed, and give an award based on what we think and believe is the best representative of that breed. Personal preference really isn’t something that should come into play, in my opinion. Dave and I look forward to returning to Italy in the future.


From the November 2012 issue of Dogs In Review magazine. Purchase the November 2012 digital back issue or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs In Review magazine.


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