Kennel Club to pilot revised ‘eye for a dog’ assessment

The Kennel Club has announced that, following discussions with the independent review panel, it is to pilot a revised ‘eye for a dog’ assessment for eligible breed show judges. This will take place on Tuesday 26 April at The Kennel Club Building, Stoneleigh as part of the judges education programme (JEP).

The JEP, including this assessment, was introduced as a result of feedback received from exhibitors, show societies and judges themselves via surveys and consultations, as follows:

Exhibitor feedback
  • Judges at open shows lack experience, exhibitors not treated with respect, lack of exhibitor ‘value for money’, poor standard of judging, and societies invite the ‘same old faces’ to judge

Show society feedback
  • Lack of availability of judging lists, and unable to find suitable judges to warrant scheduling a full range of classes likely to attract an increased entry

Judge feedback
  • Unable to gain sufficient hands-on experience, declining or stagnant entries, breed club partisan decisions preventing progress and reliance on receiving judging invitations to progress

It was recognised that, whilst judges education has previously sometimes included a breed-specific assessment, there was no in-depth check of a judge’s understanding of general canine conformation and movement, considered important for those who wish to judge several breeds. There is already in existence a seminar and supporting resources on the subject (now a JEP Level 1 requirement) and the points of the dog assessment (now a JEP Level 2 requirement), along with the requirement for a judge to pass a breed specific hands-on assessment for the judge’s first three approved CC breeds under the traditional system.

Having identified the need for such an assessment, The Kennel Club examined the way judges were trained in the Scandinavian countries, where there is a reputation for producing highly respected, competent judges.

The Finnish eye for a dog test was considered to be a suitable match, but with necessary adaptations for the UK’s judge education system. Working with the Finnish Kennel Club three pilot events took place between 2018 and 2019. Each event was reviewed with feedback from candidates, assessors, observers and organisers which identified improvements to be made to develop the proposed model for use in the new judges education programme.

The aims of the assessment remain as follows:
  • To assess a candidate’s knowledge and competence in conformation and movement (non-breed specific) and their ability to describe proportions, and to identify ‘balance’ in dogs
  • To provide an opportunity for aspiring judges to demonstrate having a high level of understanding of canine conformation and movement, and to be able to identify this in practice. The assessment does not require any pre-knowledge of any Kennel Club breed standards nor breed-specific knowledge
  • Judges wishing to progress beyond awarding Challenge Certificates in a limited number of breeds are required to demonstrate having the appropriate level of knowledge, which in turn will provide exhibitors with confidence in their ability
  • To give confidence to exhibitors that judges at the highest levels have a proven knowledge and understanding of the conformation, movement, balance and proportions of dogs which may be exhibited when they officiate
  • By improving the standard of judging at the highest levels, exhibitors may feel they receive ‘value for money’, and senior judges will be seen to be leading by example

In order to be eligible to take part in the revised eye for a dog assessment, a person must have been approved for at least three breeds and judged them at CC level. A further announcement will be made once bookings are open.

A copy of the code of best practice for the assessment can be found on The Kennel Club website. It is also recommended that potential candidates refer to the generic conformation and movement resources on The Kennel Club Academy – simply visit The Kennel Club website and, once logged into your account, click the academy button on your dashboard.

Enquiries in relation to the eye for a dog assessment should be directed to Judges Education Programme (Breed Shows) .