Experience is The Best Teacher.

Our Dogs Article   09/02/2018.

One cannot find many issues in the Kennel Clubs history that has caused so much controversy among so many as the Judges Competency Framework (JCF). The annual subscription that all who wish to judge be it at any level or number of breeds seems destined to see many breed specialist old and new stand down from judging. The exorbitant annual running costs of JCF are more in keeping of a multi-billion pound global company seeking to write off capital against Tax, and facts have been produced that indicate the initial start-up and annual maintenance could be done for a fraction of the present costings. At this time the Kennel Cub do not have stock taking numbers for judges available for open and championship shows, so therefore no indication of the possible revenue that the JCF could possibly raise. Having wondered for some time if considerations had been given to other formats for charging the annual fee I placed before them my considerations in the following email.

First many congratulations to your committee for the much-needed work that has been done on the JCF. Many of the recommendations should set a more satisfactory level of understanding across all breeds, that sadly should have been addressed by breed clubs long ago. Whilst all breed clubs should take much of the blame for today’s situation, the final buck for failure lies with a lack of guidance by the Kennel Club that could have averted many of the problems that the JFW seek to address today.

Understandably one can never dream of achieving 100 per cent satisfaction and I feel sure that the opinions of everyone are still being taken into consideration and at this time I draw my concerns to your attention that I trust you will share with the committee.

The annual fee, while being relatively small, will never work under its present proposal and I feel it will be responsible for all your good work taking a backwards step. While not applicable to myself its simply most unfair on the majority these being the one’s that judge only one breed as opposed to the multi breed judges. Therefore, I ask consideration be given to a different approach one of which could be the following that is based on the tax system lines being the more you judge the more you pay. For starters I suggest the following.

0 to 200 free of charge.

200 to 1000 30pence per entry. Maximum payable £240.00.

1000 to 2000 15pence per entry. Maximum payable £150.00.

2000 plus free of charge.

The maximum payable would be £390.00 and a rough estimate would raise £250000.00 annually. While at first many will flinch at these costs they will quickly understand that these costs could be offset by one’s judging fee. Likewise show societies could recoup if necessary by slightly increasing entry fees, after all everyone will benefit be they judge or plain exhibitors.

The total revenue collected by this method would be in line with your present costings but a shade costlier to administer than collecting the annual fee but this would not make the proposal prohibitive. The amount collected by this method would not cause a shortfall, on what I understand to be the annual cost of administering your present proposal. It may be time to reflect that much of your costings, on what would be a wonderful showcase, could be dramatically cut back reaching the same ends with a more cost effect approach that fits into the present and future Kennel Club finances.

The above proposal would avert the present fears of losing a high percentage of breed specialists and a shortfall in expected revenue along with quelling the belief that the Kennel Club are only interested in profit.

Experience seems to have been forgotten in the JCF proposal and should I feel be revisited not just in the light of giving mentoring to help others gain promotion up the judging ladder. You, like myself will, I feel sure, recall that we of the older generation did not have seminars and exams that tells one that a dog has four legs. It was an era of self-education spending endless hours reading, listening to one’s peers and trusted advisers, watching great and mediocre judges, dogs and breeders. Virtually all raised by these principles have been ignored over the years and the present JCF proposals will ensure this continues to the detriment of all concerned in the canine world in the years ahead. This brings me to the point that I consider most objectionable in the new proposals. The increase to judge 30% of the breeds before being able to apply for that group.

For myself this, at one stroke, has removed any prospect of my ever being able to judge a group along with any incentive to carry on mentoring and judging breeds or A.V classes at open shows. Since retiring from business, after a lifetime dedicated to dogs, my hope has now gone of achieving group level and whilst maybe this was slim, it was an incentive to push on. The things I learnt very early in life, such as never do a job that you do not enjoy, never be part of any business that does not offer any hope for promotion to the top and most importantly to maintain the excellent working relationship ensuring all one’s staff have the incentive and opportunity to always maintain dreams. Unfortunately, under the new proposals I do not have the years left to fulfil the requirements to reach my dreams so I have decided with sadness that in 2022 I will retire from judging at all U.K kennel Club shows

The new 30% level does seem a very protective measure for the present group judges and it does seem strange that many, like myself, are able to judge far harder puppy groups at general championship shows while at the same time denied by drastic rules promotion onto the easier adult groups.

Thank you for giving this your attention and I take this opportunity to wish you a very happy New Year.


From the prompt reply “the annual fee of £26 was rolled over from the Academy that has been in existence for some time”. This does seem to indicate that no other options for funding was considered

From the reply on the issue of group judges “it seems that many have argued that it is far too easy to become a group or BIS show judge and it seems that this along with most credible countries require 50% of the breeds to be judged for group approval won the day”. It would seem from this reply that consideration was never given to the many that feel to reduce the proposed requirement for group judges would help all-rounders and breed judges alike, and would benefit breeds curtailing unlimited number of judges chasing C.Cs in breeds that they have little or no interest in. It does seem incredible that comparisons with other countries should be used to further one’s argument especially with this counties uniqueness by the number of breed specialists that we have available along with the sizeable entries that UK shows draw, this hardly put us in the position of comparison with other countries.

From the reply Re puppy groups etc “it does appear that these provide very good experience for would be group judges.”

Concern must be made that the JCF should never care or even consider in such an ambitious controversial programme loosing far earlier than should be the case just one senior person within any one breed a step backwards, disrespectful and to the detriment of everyone from the elite to we the punters. Never risk for one moment loosing those seniors with the natural golden eye that as been gained by experience, for this cannot be bought or taught by education.

While at the time of writing I put forward just one costing item others like a cost per breed could also have been added. I am firmly of the opinion that no matter what alternative proposals are put forward the present JCF terms and conditions are set in stone and will require far more than Facebook and media attention to address the strong feelings of so many.

The year is 2042 and I'm going to tell you a true story. Once upon a time a Kennel Club member had a dream in the early hours of the morning that we needed better qualified people to become dog show judges. The dream envisaged an unknown number of show goes jumping on the band wagon creating over the years millions in revenue raised by imposing a tax made insignificantly low to be acceptable without causing unrest among the non-votes.

This did seem a wonderful idea and the General Committee quickly with pound signs flashing in blinkered eyes bought the fairy tale visualising a prosperous future with happy educated judges waving pass certificates at each other, ''just like give a friend a wave on Facebook''. To entice more recruitment of uneducated judges to participate it was decided that the number of C.Cs within a group should be dramatical increased thus making all have the incentive to go for oh so many extra breeds, after all everyone wants to be a group judge. What of the costs of training all these special judges asked general committee. Ooh it will be free, for you seek to appease the most senior old codgers who we hope will flounder at the through of paying to join the Academy a master plan will be dangled like a carrot. They will be offered the possibly of judging best in show at breed and sub group shows without the unfairness of joining the Academy. They will be only too pleased and will feel extremely important providing all with their knowledge and experience; and yes, they will be picking up the costs themselves all without suspecting they had been conned, and yes everyone will live happily ever after.

The problem with fairy tales is they never come true and so today we find ourselves in a different dog show world. The senior old codgers turned out to be extremely wise old uneducated experience breeders and judges who did not fall to the demands wished upon them. And so, it came to be that the new brand of educated judges trained in the main by second rate tutors who had little knowledge or experience of the breeds. Vast numbers came through the Academy that extra shows had to be put on to satisfy these so called special educated judges from which vast monetary gain (for a good cause) be taken from the unsuspecting Jo Blogs. With the loss of genuine experienced breeder’s, deterioration in all breeds set in, resulting in vast numbers giving up showing. The show scene did benefit by an impulse purchasing of fashionable man-made dogs fetching ludicrous prices that persuaded many from financial backgrounds uneducated in canine affairs to invest heavily in the sport. Breed clubs started going it alone and then issued libel action for the damage unrecognised colours had done to the breeds. This, plus claims by judges who proclaimed being miss sold Academy certificates that made PPI selling by the banks seem minuscule in comparison, made the Kennel Club suffer substantial losses.

With shows facing financial ruin a little man from the north west was seen jumping up and down with joy on his showground welcoming the first exhibitors with a Labradoodle and Cavapoo to the first all cross-breed Championship show.

Maybe everyone from the elite to punters would like this story to have a different happy ending. So, let’s remember that life's experience can only be understood by looking backwards and in asking one’s self that in order to be as successful as you want to be, what should be your priority: education or experience. Like this Fairy Tale it could be worth remembering the Old Latin Proverb Experience is the best teacher.

Peter Clifton.