Today we will overview the basics of Group and BIS judging and what you will see during a televised dog show.

Judging of each dog, whether at the Breed, Group, or Best In Show level, is a comparison of that individual dog to the ideal dog described by the Breed Standard for that dog breed. Every breed has an approved Standard that describes precisely how the dog should look in terms of coat, color, size, proportions, bite, and even temperament. The winner of each breed is the dog that best fit their Breed Standard.

The judging of Groups is no different. Each dog in the Group is judged as a comparison of that dog to its own Breed Standard. The best dogs in the Group are the dogs that are the closest to matching the Breed Standard for their own breed. Group judging results in a First, Second, Third, and Fourth place winner. Only the Group First winner moves on to Best In Show.

When Group judging begins, the dogs first enter the ring one at a time and move around the entire ring and into the lineup positions. The order of the dogs is generally from biggest and/or fastest to smallest and/or slowest moving. The Airedale always enters the Terrier Group ring first because it is the biggest and fastest moving terrier breed. If the Airedale went in after smaller dogs that don’t move as fast the handler would be running down the other dogs in the ring and negotiating a passing lane, it would get messy.

After all the dogs have entered the ring, the Judge will view the dogs in the lineup from a distance and then begin to examine each dog individually. One at a time each handler will bring their dog to the point of examination and stack the dog. The “stack” is the position that the dog stands in and may be different for some breeds. It is how the dog looks its best while standing still. Small dogs may be judged on a table which elevates them for easier viewing.

First the Judge views the dog at a distance in the stacked position. Then the Judge puts their hands on the dog to feel its structure. The Judge also checks the bite at this time. When the Judge is finished feeling the dog, it is released from the stack. Next the dog is judged for movement. Typically (I’ve never seen it done differently during a televised show), the dog moves “down and back” for the Judge to watch. In a televised dog show the distance of the “down and back” might be much further than at other shows and further than what was done during Breed judging. If something strange happened the Judge might ask the handler to repeat this, but not usually. On occasion there will be a dog that is not familiar with the lights and cameras that accompany a dog show that is being filmed. The dog might be startled by the large camera at the end of the down and back. Sometimes they get scared, sometimes they just stare and refuse to pay attention to their handler, sometimes they bark at the camera. These reactions are unfortunate and the dogs are usually not pulled as winners. Reactions are minimized by wrapping the camera up with a dark cover and placing at a further distance. When the dog has finished its down and back, the handler moves it around the ring to the back of the line.

When the Judge has finished examining each dog in the Group individually they will look at the entire lineup again. The Judge may ask each dog to go around the ring one at a time. The judge will walk down the lineup of dogs to view them one last time. At this point the Judge has either narrowed down the number of dogs they like or already picked their winners in their mind. The Judge might make a “cut” where they ask certain dogs that they really like to stay and the other dogs are dismissed. The “cut” can leave any number of dogs. I’ve seen a cut with only 4 dogs remaining and cuts where hardly any dogs were dismissed. The Judge may do additional examination of the remaining dogs. When the Judge is decided on their winners they will make their final lineup, usually putting the dogs in the right order and pointing “one” “two” “three” “four” as they are moved around the ring one last time. The winners move to the center of the ring in front of the corresponding placement. As the other dogs leave the ring their handlers typically congratulate the winners. The Judge gives each of the winners their ribbons and any trophies.

This proceeds in a similar manner through each of the 7 groups.

When judging for each Group is finished, the Group First winner from each of the 7 Groups are then brought back into the ring for Best In Show. Since this is a different Judge who has not looked at these dogs before, the examination of each dog is repeated. There is only one Best In Show. The dog that is picked for this award is the dog that best fits its own Breed Standard out of all the dogs at the show. When the Judge is finished examining the dogs and has decided on a winner you will see them walk back to a table at the side of the ring. This table usually has trophies and ribbons on top of it. The Judge must write down their winner in the log book before returning to the ring with the Best In Show ribbon to announce their pick. Sometimes multiple officials will walk back with the Judge with the trophies in hand. Most Judges give a short speech complimenting all the dogs in the lineup and then announce their pick from Best In Show.

So that is a televised dog show in a nutshell. It’s simple, right? Well, maybe not, especially when you get to breaking down breed judging. That is a different article for a different day. With this information you should be able to follow the televised dog show this weekend.

Still have questions?? Let us know by Sharing Your Comments below and we will get those questions answered before the show airs on Saturday.