Appropriate Handling Of Dogs By Judges Examining Bite And Dentition

It has recently been brought to the attention of the Kennel Club Judges' Sub-Committee that some judges are examining the bite and dentition of dogs in ways that are generally regarded as unacceptably intrusive and, as such, may increase the risk of eliciting undesirable responses from dogs being examined.

The Judges' Sub-Committee therefore wishes to remind all judges of the need to show an appropriate degree of caution and empathy when examining the bite and dentition of dogs in the show ring.

Whilst judges can expect all dogs being exhibited at dog shows to have good temperaments and be able to be examined without any cause for concern, judges do have a duty of care to ensure that they examine the bite and dentition in ways which are not unnecessarily intrusive to the dog, show a clear understanding and respect for the history, intended function and behavioural characteristics of the breed being judged, and may be regarded as acceptable to both the handlers and ringside audience.

Whilst judges are expected to assess temperament and react accordingly to any displays of inappropriate temperament, as part of the overall judging process, it is absolutely necessary for judges to ensure that their approach to going over dogs presented to them in the ring is empathetic to the dog and considered reasonable and appropriate by all parties concerned.

In particular, the approach to examining the bite and dentition of any breed which is aloof or reserved in character, and which may have the potential to react unpredictably to overly intrusive handling, must always be conducted in a way which minimises the risk of antagonising or alarming the dog.  It is recommended that when judging such breeds, judges are positive in their approach to the dog and may wish to consider speaking to the handler (to ask age, for example) as a way of assurance to the dog, and ensure that they do not over handle the dog.

Whilst it is understood that the majority of judges do adopt a sensible and generally acceptable approach to the examination of the bite and dentition of the dogs they judge, it is however of concern that reports are received regarding judges who are consistently disregarding the need to exercise appropriate sensitivity in this respect.

The Judges' Sub-Committee will therefore continue to monitor and evaluate such reports and, if necessary, will recommend to the General Committee that approval to judge such breeds be withheld in the case of judges who persist in the use of methods of examination that give rise to concern.