The Bee in Their Bonnet

Dog News recently had another one of their periodic complaints about “cheap champions,” or unworthy dogs receiving championships (no link available). As usual, the editors bemoaned the fact that in the U.S. any dog can get its championship if it’s shown enough, there are too many shows, dogs can finish without defeating another dog of its sex, or could finish by beating its littermates, and so on.

I’ve found all this griping tedious. What evidence is there that dogs finish at a greater rate than they did thirty years ago? Point schedules, as I understand it, are set so that there will be majors at about 20% of shows in a region. Thus dogs don’t have any greater opportunity to get their majors then they always have.

And, come on: what percentage of dogs finish without defeating another dog of its sex or using its littermates as point fodder? What would the editors suggest as a change? That a dog has to defeat specials before finishing? Then exhibitors will be bringing out every tired old veteran who should be dozing on a sofa somewhere.

These comments are wrong-headed as well. It blames the exhibitors and the structure of the show instead of placing it where it belongs, on the judges. A judge isn’t judging a dog against the others in the ring, he’s judging based on how well the dog comes up to the breed standard. Dogs not worthy of becoming champions shouldn’t be awarded points toward their championships. In every judge’s book for every breed that has class exhibits, there’s a little box that says “Winners Withheld.” If they check that box and don’t give points that day, the AKC will back them up to the hilt. However for a judge to do that would require courage. And a thorough knowledge of the breed. Can’t have that!

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