How Can I Become A Dog Show Judge?

If you have ever flipped through television channels or been interested in pet-centric content on a particular streaming service, you may have stumbled upon a dog show. Some of the people in this first group may have even wondered aloud “What sort of qualifications do you need to have to decide which of these good boys is the ‘goodest boy’?” Well it turns out that this article is keenly interested in providing data on every aspect of particular position.

What Steps Are Involved To Becoming A Dog Show Judge?

Step One: Know Your Dogs

The first requirement to become a dog show judge, more properly known as a “conformation judge,” is to have a great deal of experience breeding and showing dogs off at various competition. Both of the United States’ major kennel clubs, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC), require that all potential judges breed a champion dog.

The AKC has two ways to meet this criteria.

  1. The 12-5-4 method requires the candidate to:
    • Have at least 12 years experience exhibiting breeds the candidate wishes to judge.
    • Produce five litters of pups.
    • Produce four champions of each breed the candidate wishes to judge.
  2. Have at least 15 years of experience exhibiting one breed and satisfy four of seven other requirements, including breeding at least two champions and possessing a quarter century of experience with dog shows.
Moscow, Russia – June 25: Judge examining dog on the World Dog Show on June 25, 2016 in Crocus Expo Moscow

The UKC requires that a potential judge breed three generations and four champions, all of which are the same registered breed. Furthermore, the candidate must be an owner or co-owner of a minimum of two champions, though none of the champions need be registered with the club. 10 years of documentation pertinent to the candidate’s actions within the sport can also be handy for advancement along the path of a conformation judge.

It is worth mentioning that anyone who works in this field in a professional capacity, such as a handler or writer for a dog magazine, is automatically disqualified from becoming a conformation judge.

Step Two: Work the Circuit

The AKC requires a potential judge to perform at least six stewarding and six judging tasks before putting in an application. Stewards are assistance to the judges, let exhibitors know when judging will happen and basically keep a show looking good and running on time. The judging component only counts for AKC-approved shows. The UKC merely requires at least of decade of experience in dog shows but also takes stewarding and judging into account.

Step Three: Finish Your Training

The AKC requires all conformation judges to participate in its Judges Institute. While the UKC differs in not requiring such training, such programs are well worth an aspiring conformation judge’s time.

Step Four: Apply

Regardless of the kennel club you are courting you have to pay a fee and documentation of all your experience and knowledge on the subject. Furthermore, the AKC calls for judges to hold an interview and take an exam. A provisional conformation judge has to clear five assignments for the AKC while the UKC requires its judges to clear two written tests regarding the rules of the UKC and proper canine physiology.

The AKC interview involves a discussion of everything to do with the judge’s preferred breeds and also quizzes the potential judge on the proper protocol for any sort of scenario that might arise during a show.

Step Five: Become a Judge

If the candidate has cleared all application requirements and the kennel club accepts what they have provided, they are now considered a conformation judge and can begin judging the breeds they have proven themselves to be familiar with.

How Long Does It Take to Judge At A National Level?

As it can take a year or even longer to receive a notice of being put to work for a show, even for a mere “permit judge,” getting to judge at a national event may take several years.

How Much Does a Dog Show Judge Make?

A dog show judge is considered a sports official or referee. This places the annual salary of such a position at close to $29,000. This statistic is based on the most current reports, which are from the year 2020. Given the fact that this position earns relatively little, judges of dog shows tend to derive their primary income from some other profession that often has some overlap with the world of dog shows, such as the breeding or training of dogs.

What Sort of Training Costs are Involved?

In addition to all of the costs mentioned in the section regarding the steps taken to become a conformation judge, like application fees, training is an on-going part of a conformation judge’s life. While it is always a good idea to continue learning the UKC requires that its judges attend at least one judge seminar every five years and the AKC has its Canine College of online coursework.