It’s getting closer and closer to February, which means we need to start preparing for the grandaddy of them all, the Westminster Kennel Club’s 137th Annual Dog Show. Today, we take a look at the show’s judges.
This year they are expecting the largest showing in the past 15 years, and forty-three judges from 18 states and four countries will be choosing the best of the best. Individual breed judges can be found on the official show site.
If you’re not familiar with how a dog show runs, the first round consists of each dog competing against other dogs of the same breed. The winner of each breed competition advances to one of seven group competitions, where dogs of the various breeds making up a particular “group” are judged. Group judges for this year are:
Sporting Group: Karen Wilson of Sperryville, VA
Non-sporting Group: Florence Males of Pleasant Hill, CA
Toy Group: Dennis McCoy of Apex, NC
Herding Group: Charles Trotter of Carmel, CA
Working Group: Robert Vandiver of Simpsonville, SC
Terrier Group: Jay Richardson of St. Charles, IL
Hound Group: Luc Boileau of Burlington, WI
The dogs in each group are judged not against each other, but rather against the breed standard. The winner of a group competition is the dog who best exemplifies his or her own breed standard. For example, a Skye terrier might win over a Norwich terrier not because the Skye is “prettier” or superior to the Norwich, but because the Skye falls closer to the Skye breed standard than the Norwich is to the Norwich breed standard.
The seven dogs judged best in their specific groups then advance to the Best in Show competition, where the best of the best is crowned. Again, each dog is judged against his or her own standard, not against the other dogs in the competition.
The judge for this year’s Best in Show competition is Michael J. Dougherty of Escondido, CA. He has competed at Westminster a number of times over the years, starting as a junior handler, one of only two best in show judges in the history of the show to have competed there as a junior handler.
This year’s show is on February 11th and 12th. Check back here often for updates on show prep, and (of course!) I’ll be live-blogging during the show, bringing you each winner as the group competitions conclude.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!