Meet AKC Judge Michael Dougherty

Get to know AKC judge Michael Dougherty's background in life and dogs.

Michael J. Dougherty
Escondido, CA

In his more than 50 years in the sport of dogs, Michael J. Dougherty has done just about everything one can do. In 2013, he added to that list the ultimate honor in the ultimate event in the sport of dogs: judging Best In Show at the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

A second-generation dog man, Mr. Dougherty has judged at Westminster on four previous occasions, including the Hound Group in 2007. In 1968, his first time at Westminster, he competed in Junior Showmanship competition and showed in breed competition as well. He has also competed at Westminster as an owner-handler and as a professional handler many times over the years.

Mr. Dougherty started with his family in purebred dogs in 1961, acquiring his first Whippet in 1963. He began handling professionally in 1974, teaming with his father, Jack Dougherty. At the same time, he also bred and owned Miniature Schnauzers, Smooth Fox Terriers and Whippets. As a professional handler, he guided the careers of a number of top-winning show dogs, including Best in Show-winning Whippets and Bichons Frises.

Currently, he and his wife, Michelle, an artist and bonsai collector, own and operate the Windsong Resort for Pets in Escondido, named by San Diego Magazine as San Diego’s Best Pet Facility in 2008.

A graduate of United States International University in San Diego, Mr. Dougherty has been in the public relations and publishing industry for more than 35 years. He has represented and worked with such luminaries as Gore Vidal, Maya Angelou, Joseph Wambaugh, Tom Wolfe, Robert Ludlum, Larry King, Donald Trump, Sidney Sheldon, Judith Krantz, Nancy Reagan and Doris Day, among others, and many of the major book and audio book publishers in North America.

Presently he heads Dougherty & Associates Public Relations, an independent PR and marketing agency.

In 1985, he retired from professional handling to pursue a dog judging avocation, again following in his father’s footsteps. He is currently approved by the AKC to judge Best in Show, the Hound Group, the Terrier Group and nearly half of the Non-Sporting Group. He has judged at shows across the nation such as Montgomery County (including Best in Show in 2007), Morris & Essex, Westchester, Beverly Hills, Del Valle and Great Western Terrier, in addition to Westminster. His international judging assignments have taken him to Australia, Taiwan, Colombia, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Finland, Canada, Mexico and Japan.



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Dogs · Lifestyle