Judging Dog Shows in Australia

The Australian Judges Training and Education Program

To enter the judges training scheme in Australia you must be at least 18 years of age, have belonged to an Australian National Kennel Council member organization for a minimum of 10 years, bred at least three litters under your own or a shared prefix and bred at least two champions under your own or a shared prefix.

You also must have become a ring steward at least two years prior to applying and have stewarded on at least six occasions. In addition, you need to have demonstrated a history of ongoing commitment to dog showing by being involved in dog club administration at least two years prior to applying to join the scheme.

Once you meet these criteria and have been approved to enter the Aspiring Judges Training Program, you must attend lectures as determined by your state’s controlling body, pass a theory examination on rules and regulations, anatomy, glossary of terms, ethics, judging procedure and show management.

When aspiring judges have passed the theory examination, it is expected that they will undergo a practical examination that may be on the aspiring judge’s primary breed. There will be a class consisting of five dogs each of either sex and all over the age of 6 months.
Three ANKC accredited examiners will assess the aspiring judge’s placements and will independently decide to pass or fail the person based on whether the better dogs are placed in the front and the lesser dogs in the rear. The candidate’s explanations are important in this process. A “pass” from only two of the three judges is required to pass the test.

Once the theory and practical examinations have been passed, an aspiring judge may then take a Group Entrance theory examination for his or her chosen Group. This examination will consist of multiple choice questions on the breeds in this Group. Trainees enter the scheme to seek a license for an entire Group rather than individual breeds.

There is provision in the training scheme for those who wish to obtain only a single-breed license. They must enter the scheme the same way as above and undergo a similar single-breed test as above, but shall undergo a more stringent theory examination on the breed chosen.

The basic ANKC Judges Training and Examination Scheme is adopted by all member bodies, which are expected to be consistent with their interstate counterparts as far as possible. However, in practice there are variations from state to state, and the ANKC scheme is mainly used as a guideline in terms of the way trainees must judge or examine the prerequisite number of dogs before they qualify for a practical examination.

Some states run “open shows” (shows where champions may not compete and where championship points are not awarded) in order for trainee judges to obtain hands-on experience. Other states arrange other events to assist trainee judges to examine and gain the required number of dogs.

Having passed the Group Entrance theory examination, the aspiring judge becomes a trainee judge. He or she must attend breed lectures, field events and seminars as arranged by the State ANKC member body. This includes attending a lecture on every breed in the Group at least once during the two years before applying for a practical examination to be licensed for the Group.

If a lecture is missed, the trainee judge must instead submit a 1,000-word essay on the breed. Lectures are held either weekly or monthly, depending on how the state controlling bodies schedule them.

Trainee Judges are required to examine and critique at least 50 dogs in the Group they are applying for whilst attending field days, shows or kennel visits. Five additional critiques are required to be submitted by attending a breed specialty show. A licensed judge for that Group must sign off the critiques.

Once the above criteria have been met, the trainee judge may apply to pass a theory exam that is usually comprised of 50 multiple choice questions on the breed standards from the chosen Group. A 75-percent pass mark is required.

When all of the above criteria have been satisfied, a trainee judge may then apply for a practical examination. The state controlling body conducts these annually. There will be three separate classes of five dogs to be judged by the trainee judge: two of these will be single breeds and one will be comprised of five different breeds within the Group of dogs that the trainee judge is listed for.

Three ANKC accredited assessors will be appointed to determine how the trainee examines and places the dogs in correct order of merit. After each breed/class is placed the trainee will be required to discuss their placements with the three assessors. At the conclusion of the test the assessors must not confer and will individually decide if the trainee is to pass or fail. The trainee judge needs at least two out of the three assessors to pass them on each class.

Trainees who are not successful must examine and critique a further 25 dogs and may apply again for examination in the following year. Trainees are particularly encouraged to visit kennels, discuss breeds with breeders and exhibitors, and attend Group and Breed specialty shows in order to acquire as wide and sound a knowledge as possible of the breeds in the relevant Group. There are provisions under the ANKC scheme for distance learning for those living in locations considered too remote to attend lectures.

It is relatively inexpensive to become a trainee judge in Australia compared to other countries. In Victoria (Dogs Victoria) the application fee to apply to become an aspiring judge is $64.70 AUD. The fee for a written or practical examination is $53.80 AUD. As a trainee judge you must continue to pay the annual fee of $64.80 AUD for every year you remain on the judges’ training scheme plus a license fee of $53.80 AUD to renew any existing licenses gained (The figures are the exact amounts as per the schedule of fees issued by Dogs Victoria). These fees vary from state to state. There is no ANKC set fee across the country.

Darren Bowey is approved by the Australian National Kennel Council to judge all breeds. He has officiated at AKC shows several times, and most recently judged the Sporting Group, Working Group and Best in Show during the Santa Barbara KC show weekend in August, 2011. See also Darren’s responses in “Talking to the Australian Judges” elsewhere in this issue.

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