The wicket used to measure show dogs is pretty accurate, as long as the judge is paying attention and knows where to measure. Judges must take the time to learn how to use the wicket and to do it in a timely fashion. Remember, it is not important what the dog’s actual size is, just whether he is in or out.
Having decided to measure a dog, you call for the wicket stating what the breed is. Also, if you are at an outdoor show on grass, call for the superintendent to bring a flat, level, nonslip board unless the dog is of a breed that is examined—and therefore measured—on the table. Then, if possible, continue your judging until the equipment arrives, in order to save time.
It would be a big mistake to have never had your hands on a wicket prior to your first time measuring a dog. The adjustable legs of the wicket slide up and down and, if held up while not fastened, will fall out. Preferably lay the device flat on the table while setting the legs, and then use your metal tape measure to check each leg’s length. (You do know that you must have a metal tape measure in your possession, don’t you?) Don’t forget to show the exhibitor how the legs are set.
Once the wicket is set correctly, it’s on to the dog. The dog stands naturally, not stretched out, and with the head in a normal position. On a long-coated breed the hair over the shoulders may be parted. The wicket is held at the judge’s side until she has used her hand to locate the highest point to be measured. The wicket is then brought up quickly from the rear and forward over the rear of the dog, being careful not to hit the dog’s rear legs.
Be careful that you don’t measure a dog when a photographer is in the next ring throwing toys in the air. If dogs like toys, they can grow inches. And be careful how you use the wicket once you have finished measuring. I saw one judge, pleased that the dog had measured in, flip his hand while still holding the wicket and catch the poor dog a substantial wallop.