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AKC judge says show your mature Grand Champions so that breeders can view their magnificence, virtues of previous generations, and consider them for stud!






E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge, Exhibition Editor - January 2012


Study those Grand Champions! Not only is it an opportunity to once again view their mature magnificence, it is the best way to consider them for stud.


What better way to evaluate and incorporate those lost virtues? Too many dogs flew to their Championship and were retired before their time. Thanks to Award of Merits and Grand Champions, THEIR TIME IS NOW.


Study those Grand Champions!In those older dogs, you can often see the “overall symmetrical appearance” once taken for granted, before breeders started “breeding pieces” (Ref #1) instead of dogs. Before some judges ceased to take the entire dog into consideration when judging. Before the breed became a victim of type change. Simply put, “type change” is the concentration of an obvious fault that becomes so common place, it appears as a virtue. Overwhelming the ring, the dog correct to standard is so different, it can actually appear incorrect!


Slowly, changes are surfacing and some breeds are improving. Are these “Award of Merit” dogs making a difference?  Many judges found the introduction of the Select Awards somewhat confusing. After participating in the awarding of Select Dog and Bitch, I believe it’s possible the value of such an award may well have a positive effect on our sport.


As more of these past Grand Champions enter my ring, I am impressed with their virtues and lasting quality. Some muzzles may be gray, but those old ones are something to behold. At times, more than one dog and bitch qualifies for recognition. The bottom line is most of these dogs love getting back into that ring!  I can see it in their eyes and carriage.  Too many finished in a whirlwind of excitement only to be relegated to a kennel for breeding purposes only. Sadly, “out of sight is out of mind” and few breeders used them.


We have such a dog. Finishing quickly, he could have an impact on improving heads and substance. Beautifully sound, he moves well, and is outstanding in breed type. No doubt he could continue to win Awards Of Merit but he’s a dog that loves to show and hits the end of the lead quickly, and we are unable to cope with his show ring enthusiasm. Therefore, he is a truck dog and buddy, his genes lost to a breed that needs improvement.


If anyone asks about pedigree on an Award of Merit entry, breeder-owners can recite 5 generations off the top of their heads. It shows a sense of direction and purpose. There is a reason why such breeders produce outstanding specimens time and again. They didn’t participate in the fast pace of “breeding to win”. They bred to the standard.  Such dogs were not a “flash in the pan” that fell apart when mature. They improved with age and their longevity and lasting quality speaks for itself. They are truly GRAND Champions!


I love the old ones. They are dear to me. In our kennel, around age five, we seek homes for our Champions. They go to those owners who purchased our dogs over the years. Spayed and neutered, they begin their life as retired pets. They are loved, cared for, and enjoy their retirement.


Our purpose is to keep something from such dogs to go on with. It isn’t fair to put a dog in a kennel for life while the younger dogs take precedence over time and money. IF the decision regarding breeding is to move forward, then moving these dogs into a permanent retirement home is our responsibility and our final act of love. Occasionally, one sticks here forever but by keeping small numbers, each dog receives the love it desires.


E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge/Exhibition Editor, TheDogPlace.orgEvery dog deserves a lap to sit on, a scratch behind the ears, and the privilege of lying at its owner’s feet during its waning years.


Our dogs have a final resting place by our pond. Some owners return their dogs for burial here. Each has a stone of recognition. Dogs are family. This runs through my mind when Grand Champion dogs enter my ring, flaunting their happiness and prime condition. Go and talk to the proud breeders/exhibitors of such dogs. They have a wealth of knowledge. Perhaps with luck, something can be introduced into your current program to enhance virtues that have melted into the past due to the race for that blue ribbon.


Grand Champions offer an opportunity for correctness to be re-assembled and passed on to the next generation.  Trends fade away with the next big thing, and “big things” make our breeds appear differently than initially intended. Give those older Grand Champions a second look.  You may not only harvest what you see physically, but perhaps hidden in those genes lurks a “greatness” just waiting to be released!


Ref #1 Piecework Dogs


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