So you think you want to be a judge?

                                                     by Carole Long

I began judging in 1980. As with most people, I watched judges at shows and thought “why did they do that?” or “they don’t know what they’re doing” so I decided to put my money where my mouth was and applied to the NZKC to begin judging. In those days you just applied and that was that - you were a judge. Boy oh boy, is that a shock; all at once you were expected to know all the breed standards as well as rules, regulations and anatomy.

After a couple of years I sat an exam to go on the Open Show Panel, which I passed and having to attend judges’ monthly meetings (which I still do), I was on my way.

To get a license to judge each group (of which there are 7) you have to sit a theory exam covering all the Toy breeds which was my first group. 70% is required for a pass mark. I then had to sit a practical exam. In those days you had to place all the dogs in the same order as 3 All Breeds Judges. It’s not like that today; as long as you can justify your placings knowledgeably, you are fine.

You are examined on 1) How you look, 2) Your knowledge of the breeds, 3) How you handle the dogs, 4) How you treat the owners of the dogs, 5) How confident you are. This is a hard one as you are so nervous trying to remember all the other 4.

These days, as well as all the above exams, which you have to sit for each of the seven groups, you have to attend judges meetings and participate in activities to obtain credit points - 50 points to enable you to even sit an exam. We also have to pay fees for the opportunity to sit exams. Try fitting all this into your life as well as working full time, raising a family, looking after your dogs, showing etc. It is not easy!

As you go through the groups you have to keep a record of every show and numbers of dogs you have judged. Before I even sat my last exam I had to have judged 3,500 dogs. When I added all them all up, I had judged over 15,000 dogs, all at Champ Shows. Quite a total.

So the next time you sit at the ringside and are tempted to rubbish the judge, please bear in mind the effort required to get where they are and remember you can’t see what they can. New Zealand judges are well respected all over the world; not all countries have examinations and our system is well regarded.

One word of caution, if you take up judging, any friends you have will be true friends because you can’t please everyone. You just have to be true to yourself and keep your own integrity.

Good Luck!


Exhibited for 6 years, been actively involved with clubs - show ring procedures - keep stewarding record card for 10 shows - 5 of which must be CHAMP or OPEN Shows.


Complete modules on Breed recognition, rules, regs, anatomy, glossary of terms. Mock judging exam.


Judged 10 Ribbon Parades. Obtain 50 credit points. Written exam on Rules and Regs and Anatomy


Been on Open Show panel for 2 years. 50 credit points. Pass a written and practical exam with a 70% pass.

Fees apply at all levels.

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