OLD WORLD BREEDS, A NEW AKC GROUP?
E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge, TheDogPlace.org Exhibition Editor
The proposal to add new Groups failed, even so, I suggest addition of an Old World Group for low-entry and rare breeds, most of which are Old World breeds.
As a multi-group judge, I can tell you that getting approval for new breeds or another Group exacts a stiff price on aspiring judges. New judges and senior judges alike have valid cost concerns. Consider this: Application fee for each new breed is $25.00. Attendance of a breed national can cost over $1,000 considering flights, accommodations, and other expenses. Seminar attendance often comes at an equally high cost unless you can take more than one breed seminar per location.
Some judges, now retired, are living on a fixed income and simply can’t afford the expense. Younger judges are facing an economical downturn. Count the new breeds, many of which are Old World breeds, to be added to your Groups and do the math. How to see and study rare breeds or small entry breeds becomes a challenge. Sadly, many new breeds have small entries, even at their Nationals. Rare and Old World breeds are often purchased by people either not active in the sport, or as a second breed that will be easier to finish. Those breeds rarely win in their respective groups. Therefore limited educational experiences are a serious draw back to adding such breeds to one’s list of Approved Breeds.
Therefore, how can seasoned judges educate themselves in new breeds or low-entry breeds while juggling a heavy judging schedule? Is it credible to be given only two years in which to do so? Aspiring judges face equal difficulty. How long might it take to fulfill provisional requirements when those breeds are rarely if ever seen at smaller shows? If a specific number is required to be considered for Provisional, where does that leave a judge?
It appears the newer the breed, the more disqualifications but if a judge has an “eye” for assessing dogs, on Old World Group is a way to make new breeds, rare breed, or low-numbers breeds easier for judges to learn and to acquire.
The AKC committee worked long and hard “brainstorming” about Group divisions. They cannot see expected results until the application takes place. That’s how we learn, from our mistakes, and why improvements are necessary. However, time marches on, and often runs out before solutions appear, causing many judges to give up and fall by the wayside...
NORDIC BREEDS GROUP: I sent this idea to AKC for consideration. Why not separate Sight and Scent hounds and take the northern breeds from Working and Herding to make their own Nordic Group?
OLD WORLD BREEDS GROUP: Why not consider some of the historically important but less popular breeds that overall, failed to attain very many Group Placements in the last 10 years and give them opportunity to compete in an “Old World Group?” AKC is recognizing many old but foreign breeds and as the Old World Breeds expand, we could then divide this Group into Pastoral and Working.
This would allow the newer breeds to gain more recognition and compete against other newly recognized breeds aka “OLD BREEDS” coming from the Old World (which is exactly where they are coming from). It would give all such breeds more opportunity to compete at Group Level and place in their own “Old World Breeds Group.”
Perhaps the AKC could then promote an Institute that includes all of the Rare and or Old World breeds and also compiling existing “low numbers” breeds that might fit the definition, the Sussex and Field Spaniels come to mind. It would be a wonderful time and cost-saver to be able to “group” these breeds and a complete educational opportunity like one big Institute. A judge could attend such an Institute and efficiently educate themselves on those breeds.
Promoting Old World Group seminars would also bring more attention and interest for purebred dogs and the clubs would benefit. If AKC makes an Old World Group, then divides it into Pastoral and Working, we could capitalize on the culture of such breeds. The public would eat it up! So would the media.
Imagine this - At large shows, booths displaying the Old World breed’s history could be educational. Group exhibitors could dress according to custom in the breed’s country of origin. It could be colorful and exciting to present other cultures. It could turn into an extravaganza which, if marketed properly, could generate extra income for the Breed Clubs, the host Kennel Clubs and the AKC as well.
As new breeds make their way down the pike, they can be included in the Old World Group and divided according to the function for which they were bred, Pastoral or Working. On the bright side, new divisions would not disrupt the other 7 Groups and judges would not feel the intense pressure regarding time allowed for education.
Although the Group Splits were voted down this year, I put these ideas forward as something that demands consideration. Eventually, Group divisions will come about, so why not do so in a seamless way by making a Group for newly approved breeds, Rare Breeds, and Old World breeds? This, and “grouping” new or low number breeds together for Judges Institutes, would not only take the pressure off the judges regarding time, but it could become a wonderful publicity tool and a helpful money-maker for the American Kennel Club and new Breed Clubs.
An Old World Group would generate new public interest in purebred dogs and be a wonderful way for proud importers, breeders, and owners to really “show off” their breed.