Five Minutes With Dr. James Sillers

How much do we know about Dr. James Sillers? Dogs in Review asked some of them a few questions.

Approved for the Hound Group, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Anatolian Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, St. Bernards, German Wirehaired Pointers, Italian Greyhounds, BIS, Miscellaneous breeds and Junior Showmanship.

How did you first become involved in dogs? What breeds have you been involved with and in what capacity – breeder, owner, handler?

I was raised on a family dairy farm where I took an active role in the breeding, calving, milking and care of the cattle. Once I graduated from veterinary school, this interest in animal husbandry was transferred to our canine friends. My wife told everyone when they asked why I started in this hobby that I was just a frustrated farmer. This personal interest started attracting breeder clients. As my practice grew, so did my involvement in the breeding and showing of dogs. Borzoi is my primary breed but we have always owned a show-quality Wirehaired Dachshund as a companion.

Who has been your mentor or mentors?

My mentor was my camera. I took photos monthly of all of my dogs and studied them, watching each dog develop. This taught me to evaluate which structures a pup must have at a certain age in their development to be considered show potential. The more I judge I find I place more and more emphasis on type. However, my definition of type includes structural soundness. What good is a cow with a fantastic milk record and a beautiful typey head that drags her udder along the ground?

What is, or was, your profession?

I am a retired veterinarian but have continued doing surgical ear crops for a few of my breeder clients.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests other than judging?

Everyone tells me that I have too many hobbies. Now that I am retired I am like a kid in a candy shop. I am an avid gardener, a Rotarian with special interest in our international projects, plus I enjoy adventures. These adventures have included a trek to the base camp of Mt. Everest, hiking for two weeks around the South island of New Zealand, hiking the Milford Trek, hiking in and out of the Grand Canyon, and a week hiking in the High Sierras. My recent heart issues will force crossing off other hikes from my bucket list. I write a monthly veterinary column in the Sight and Scent Hound magazine.

Do you have any pet peeves when judging?

I have an expression I’ve used over the years: “Do not show a dog unless it is ready to be shown. Some dogs are never ready, therefore should not be shown.” I have noticed a new trend and that is the showing of dogs out of condition. Many dogs are lacking muscling in their thighs and others are just obese. Another pet peeve is exhibitors who wonder why they didn’t win but have never read their breed standard or studied their breed’s illustrated standard.

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