Novice Judges: Test Your Mettle

We know you know a lot about dogs, but what about judging conformation in the ring? Find out with this quiz written by renowned judge, Jeffrey G. Pepper.

Novice judges continually face new experiences. Do you know the answers to these situations a novice judge might face? The answers are based on AKC’s rules.

1. In a measurable breed, someone standing outside the ring asks for a measurement of a specific dog. Do you measure the dog?

2. Will the AKC Executive Field Representative care where in your ring you examine the dogs?

3. You are a new judge. An old friend standing with you at ringside asks you to hold his dog while he goes in the ring to show another one. Should you do as requested?

4.  You have awarded the Winners Dog award and second place in that dog’s class does not come back into the ring when called. What do you do?

5. As you examine a dog you notice a misalignment of the front teeth and you want to check the breed’s standard to see if it addresses this. Can you go and check your copy of the breed standard while you are judging?

6. As you examine a dog of a breed having no disqualifications you think the dog might be just a little too tall to fit into the requirements of the breed standard. Can you measure the dog?

7. In a breed with a height disqualification you examine a 6-month-old puppy who clearly does not measure up to the minimum requirement of the breed standard. What should you do?

8.  Does it make any difference how much time you take to judge the dogs?



1. A protest about a dog in the ring can  come from an exhibitor in the ring, not from a spectator. Therefore, you cannot measure the dog based on the spectator’s request

2. Yes. Judges should examine dogs near their judge’s table so that they can access their judge’s book readily if it is needed and so that there is a minimum of time wasted walking around the ring.

3. No. At a show, judges may only hold dogs that they own or co-own on lead.

4. Indicate in your judge’s book that dog # 5 (using the armband number of the absent dog) did not return for reserve and make your award from the rest of the dogs in the ring.

5. Yes. AKC and exhibitors will appreciate your concern for accuracy.

6. No. You may only measure dogs in breeds that have a height disqualification

7. If the breed’s standard has a minimum height and you think the puppy does not meet the minimum requirement, you must measure the puppy, and if it is too small, you must disqualify the puppy under the breed’s standard. Mark your judges book indicating you measured the dog (using the armband number of the dog) and it measured out. Be aware that some breed standards exclude puppies from the minimum heights and many do not.

8. Yes. AKC expects judges to work at a rate of approximately 25 dogs an hour. Judges who are substantially too slow might slow down an entire show and the Field Rep will note this in his report. Allowances are made for new judges to take more time than normal.

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Dogs · Health and Care