Showing dogs on conformation is a sport that can seem completely unpredictable.  Each conformation judge has a different history, different priorities, likes, and dislikes. So how can we best prepare ourselves for the ring – besides presenting a well-trained dog in excellent condition?
We can arm ourselves with information to make educated decisions.  We know our dogs best – we know their strengths and their limitations.  With information, we can stack the odds in our favor or decide whether or not to enter a show.


With so much information available on the Internet, my methods of research has changed dramatically.  I used to just ask friends if they have shown to particular judges before.  Now each judge takes anywhere from 20-60 minutes of research.


After I do show to a judge, I keep a spreadsheet of my experiences and impressions of what the judge likes.  I also make notes of anything special like a particular ring procedure, no bait, no toys, or anything else that might be useful.


  • Judging Panel on the premium – I take a look at the judging panel for that show not only for who is judging my breed, but what else is the judge doing?
    • Is the judge also doing groups or juniors?  This gives me an idea of what the judge has on his/her plate.
      • If the judge was the group judge the day before I show, he/she will have seen the Best of Breed from the day before.
        • That particular dog has an advantage as the judge is getting two looks at the dog that weekend.
  • – Infodog is a source for several types of information.
    • It has the location of the judge.
      • Example: If the judge is from the West coast and frequently attends shows there, I know what he or she is accustomed to seeing.
      • I know what pedigrees he/she has likely been exposed to and what breeders he or she might have talked to.
    • Infodog also shows what other breeds the judge are approved to judge, and you can make a loose inference on how long the he/she has been judging.
      • The more approved breeds means more years.  It takes a great number of years to be approved for all breeds.
    • You can also make a guess on what breed the judge first started with – just look for the breed he/she has been judging the longest.
    • You can also see what they put up in the past.  I go through and look at what pedigrees or styles of dog in my breed he/she tends to like.
      • This really only works when there are many dogs judged, and you already know what the different pedigrees look like.
      • I used to look for whether or not the judge put my dog’s sire as they look almost exactly alike.
  • Google search the judge for articles, interviews, and personal information
    • Type in the judge’s name in Google without the “Mr/Ms/Mrs/Dr” and without the middle initial. 
      • If there are multiple people with the judge’s name, add the word “dog” or “dog show” to the search.
    • Things you can learn from the Google search:
      • Images – look for previous show pictures.  You’ll be able to recognize the judge as you are casually walking around the show site.
        • Make sure you are always looking and acting your best on the show site as the judge might see you before you see him/her!
      • Their past or current breed – some judges are still breeding, and they will have a website with their breed.  Breed of origin can mean a ton.
        • I’ve found that doberman judges tend to like my girl because she is very clean and elegant with a lovely neck.
        • It seems that sporting judges seem to like my girl because of her movement.
        • Mastiff or Saint judges liked my boy because of his bone.  My girl doesn’t do so well under those judges.
      • Interviews or profiles on the judges – many more seasoned judges will have profiles or interviews written about them, particularly ones who have judged Westminster.  They often mention what they are looking for in dogs or pet peeves.
      • Did the judge write a book?  If so, figure out what was the thesis of the book?  If the judge went to the effort to write a book, he/she probably thinks his/her opinion is pretty important.  Figure out what is important!
      • If the judge was a previous professional handler – often times their clients will mention them on a win photo.
        • I would highly advise polishing your handling skills if you are showing to a handler.
      • Career or hobbies – judges are normal people too.  They often have a day job and other hobbies (including judging other dog sports) that can give you insight on what they might like.
        • Being able to relate to others will help you understand their decisions in the ring.
  • Judge’s Report Card Group on Facebook – I spend a great deal of time searching for information here.
    • In the top right hand search bar, type in the judge’s last name.  Using the entire name sometimes omits posts where the entire name isn’t used.
    • I read each and every single post that even mentions the judge.  This is very time consuming, but it must be done.
      • There are many conflicting comments on judges; so try to look for trends.
        • Do most people think he/she is good for puppies?
        • Do most people think he/she is a head judge?
  • Ask around – Handlers, friends in other breeds, and your breeder.
    • They’ve probably shown to the judge before, and they can give you first hand information.  This has helped me plenty in the past.
  • might be helpful.  I don’t use it myself, but other people have.

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