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To: Conflict of Interest Committee
From: Jim Crowley
Subject: Judging Conflict of Interest
Date: January 8, 2004


The Dog Show Rules have very few actual exclusions for judges. However, numerous policies and guidelines have been developed over the years to augment them. Some pertain to actual eligibility to judge, and others pertain to speciflc assignments or general behavior.

Each type of restriction is listed separately. The rules will be listed first, followed by policies augmenting that rule, and then by unrelated policies.

I. Judging Eligibility Exclusions

  1. A person connected with any publication in the capacity of solicitor for kennel advertisements (Chapter 7, Section 1).
    1. Publishers and persons who promote show dogs through the active solicitation or acceptance of advertisements in commercial dog publications (Policy — Occupational Eligibility Addendum).
  2. Persons connected with dog food, dog remedy or kennel supply companies in the capacity of solicitor or salesman (Chapter 7, Section 1).
    1. A salesman is one whose primary activity or occupation involves the sale or attempted sale of goods or services to specific individuals or entities. A solicitor is one whose primary activity or occupation involves seeking or facilitating of the direct sale of goods or services to specific individuals or entities (Policy — Occupational Eligibility Addendum).
  3. Persons who buy, sell and in any way who trade in or traffic in dogs as a means of livelihood in whole or in part (Chapter 7, Section 1).
    1. Persons who buy or sell dogs not bred by them as a means of livelihood in whole or part, whether or not they are known as dealers (this is trafficking in dogs) (Policy – Occupational Eligibility Addendum).
  4. Professional show superintendents and their employees (Chapter 7, Section 1).
  5. Persons who show dogs for others (Chapter 7, Section 1).
  6. Persons who reside in the same household as professional handlers or superintendents (Policy – Italics in Chapter 7, Section 1).

II. Ineligibility to do Specific Assignments

  1. Individuals with the following occupations will be eligible to judge, but not at shows, companion shows, circuits or clusters at which they offer their service (Policy – Occupational Eligibility Addendum).
    1. Concessionaires
    2. Dealers in dog art, antiques or memorabilia
    3. Dog show photographers
    4. Professional dog artists and photographers
    5. Persons employed by dog food, dog remedy or kennel supply companies not involved as solicitors or salesmen.
    6. Persons conducting seminars or clinics related to dogs. (Such individuals may conduct a seminar or clinic at a show, circuit or cluster after they have completed all judging assignments).
    7. Judges who are household members of persons with inelgible occupations may not accept assignments at any show, companion show, circuit or cluster at which the ineligible person is offering their services.
  2. Conformation Judges and household members may not exhibit and judge on the same weekend or at companion shows within three days of each judging assignment. (Policy — Guidelines).
  3. Any dog-related occupations not covered by the above interpretation will require individual evaluation (Occupational Eligibility Addendum).

III. Ineligible Dogs

  1. A judge shall not exhibit his dog, or take any dog belonging to another person into the ring at any show at which he is officiating (Chapter 7, Section 14).
    1. Only handle dogs owned or co-owned by you or a member of your immediate family. It is not proper for a judge to co-own a dog solely to permit the judge to handle a dog. The same policy applies to all members of the judge's household (Policy – Guidelines).
    2. If a judge uses an agent, the agent is not to exbtbit dogs under the judge for at least four months after working for you. This policy applies for breed competition, but it is recommended to avoid at all levels (Policy – Guidelines).
  2. No judge or a judge's household member may exhibit or handle at a show where the judge is exhibiting and dogs owned wholly or in part by the judge or a member of the judge's household shall be ineligible to be entered (Chapter 11, Section 13).
  3. No entry may be made under a judge if the judge or any member of his immediate household or family have owned, handled in the ring more than twice, sold, held under lease or boarded within one year (Chapter 11, Section 13).
    1. Subject to same restrictions as Chapter 11, Section 13. (Policy – Occupational Eligibility Addendum)
      Grooming shops or employees
      Kennel owners and kennel employees
  4. Situations that require you to excuse a dog entered under you.
    1. A dog you or a member of your family has owned, co-owned, sold, boarded, etc. within one year (In Guidelines, with the excusal requirement added, but also in Chapter 11, Section 13).
    2. A person who has handled for you within four months prior to the show date (In Guidelines also elsewhere with the excusal requirement added in the “CONFLICT OF INTEREST” section).
    3. A person with whom you have a business relationship (In Guidelines).

IV. Judging Behavior

  1. Never solicit or promote assignments (Policy Guidelines).
    1. No judge may advertise or in any manner make commercial use of his judging approval. (Policy – Occupational Eligibility Addendum).
  2. Never accept any payments or presents for past or future placements (Policy – Guidelines).
  3. Advise potential exhibitors not to enter under you when their presence or the presence of their dogs might give the impression of unfair advantage. For example, if the exhibitor is:
    • Your employer or an employee
    • A relative
    • A person with whom you co-own dogs
    • A person with whom you travel to dog shows


Violations of the rules result in the rescinding of awards if an ineligible dog is entered.

The Guidelines are prefaced with the statement that “Failure to comply with these Guidelines subjects a judge to possible disciplinary action.”

The “Occupational Eligibility Addendum” contains the statements “Violations of the restrictions on these occupational categories will result in the cancellation of all awards made to the ineligible dog(s). Violation of these regulations will subject the judge to review of his or her judging approval, with the possible action up to and including loss of judging approval.”

Editorial Comment

As shown above, a myriad of policies and guidelines, enforced as regulations, have been adopted in an effoit to eliminate perceived conflicts of interest. However, because of all types of relationships that exist among those in the sport, this is, in my opinion, an impossible task. Even the term “business relationship” in the Guidelines is not defined and may or may not cover scores of relationships. For example, if an exhibitor is an automobile dealer, insurance agent, stockbroker, banker, antique dealer, hairdresser, or any type of store patronized by a judge, may he or she exhibit under a judge who is a customer?

Accepting gifts for past or future awards is an obvious prohibition. However, everyone is aware of judges who receive gifts, or are treated to dinner, etc. by exhibitors with whom they are friends, but to whom they have given awards in the past. Who can determine when such gifts are between old friends, and when they are tied to awards? Should exhibitors be prohibited from inviting any judge whom they have shown under, or may show under, to a party or from treating them to dinner?

Judges who campaign dogs, and show under other judges who also campaign dogs creates a clear perception of conflict, particularly when they exchange awards. However, this is not addressed at all. Should judges be restricted to the same provisions as AKC employees, i.e. – may finish a dog but not campaign it?

Judges are ordered not to solicit assignments. However, nothing is said about Show Chairs/Judges trading assignments or about Show Chairs giving assignments to judges that have placed their dogs. While some form of solicitation inevitably goes on all the time, only those dumb enough to put it in writing are penalized. Also, is the whole concept archaic as every other profession, including doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc., now advertise and solicit business?

Everyone is also aware that certain handlers almost never lose under certain judges. How can, or should that be addressed?

There are two possible courses of action. One is to continue to attempt to legislate morality, or at least the perception of morality, and to continue to expand, augment and interpret existing policies to try to cover every conceivable situation that could be perceived as a conflict of interest. The other is to keep it simple. There are rules that cover dog eligibility. When violations occur, awards are rescinded. Judging conflicts of interest may be stated in very general terms. Rather than trying to cover everything, when obvious situations come to AKC's attention, they should be addressed with that individual judge. Having witnessed the confusion, inconsistency, petty complaints, misunderstandings, and rancor resulting from the present system, I would personally recommend the latter course.

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