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Conformation Judges Policies

Conformation Judges Policies

  • Adjunct Approval (April 1994 Board meeting) +

    When a new breed becomes eligible for championship competition, there is one three-month window of opportunity for judges to submit applications under the adjunct system.

  • AKC Board Household Judges (July 2000 Board meeting) +

    A household member of a Board member may submit a judging application under the following procedure:

    • Decisions regarding applications submitted by Directors’ spouses, partners, or household members would be made by staff only, with no involvement by the Board.
    • Should the applicant not accept staff’s decision, he/she would be eligible for Reevaluation by the staff committee and, if necessary, review by the Board Appeal Committee.
    • If the applicant is a spouse, partner, or household member of an Appeal Committee member, the Chairperson would appoint an alternate Director to participate in the review of the applicant.

  • Best in Show Approval (January 1996 Board meeting) +

    After attaining regularly approved status for all breeds in a group and judging the group five times successfully, judges requesting, in writing, approval to judge Best in Show, will be granted this approval.

  • Correspondence (January 1988 Board meeting) +

    AKC will, at the request of a judge or judge applicant, provide that individual with copies of letters received by AKC concerning their qualifications.

  • Delegate Judges (May 1993 Board meeting) +

    The Board unanimously voted that it be permissible for a Delegate judge to request that a club make a donation to a charity, foundation, or organization of his or her choice as long as it was not done as a condition of employment.

  • Denials of Judging Reinstatement (February 2000 Board meeting +

    The procedure for appealing denials of reinstatement follow the regular approval process, reconsideration, and appeal procedures: the denied applicant requests AKC staff reconsideration, at which time the applicant ma supply additional pertinent information not included in the original request. Applicants who do not accept a reconsideration decision may request a review by the Board. Such review would follow the same procedures in effect for regular judging applicants.

  • Disabled Handlers (March 1998 Board meeting) +

    The AKC strives to provide an opportunity to participate in its events. In the case of conformation judging, where decisions are based solely on the quality of the dogs, a judge may modify the regular judging procedure to accommodate a disabled handler.

    If a modification of normal judging procedures is required, the judge needs only to determine that it would not inhibit the ability of the other handlers in the ring to show their dogs. A disabled handler may compete using a cane, crutch, or electric-powered wheelchair. However, when gaiting the dogs as a group, the judge should ensure that a handler who cannot maintain a normal gait for the breed being exhibited, be placed in line where it will not interfere with the ability of the other dogs to gait properly.

    Blind handlers may have a second person assist them in individual and group gaiting of the dogs. If the ring surface or terrain makes it difficult for the assisted handler to gait the dog at a normal speed, the judge may adjust where the dog is placed in line to give all handlers an equal opportunity to show their dogs. Blind handlers may have the second person assist in placing table dogs onto tables and verify weight and measurements that may be required under the breed standard. The primary function of exhibiting the dog is the responsibility of the handler and not the second person in the ring.

  • Fitness to Judge (February 2003 Board meeting) +

    AKC will and must comply with The American Disabilities Act and strive to provide an opportunity for disabled judges to participate in the sport and will allow judges to use a cane, crutch, wheelchair, or other equipment or accommodation that does not inhibit their ability to evaluate the dogs without disturbance or fundamentally alter the nature of the sport.

    1. The maneuverability to negotiate a ring both indoors and outdoors.
      1. A judge is required to move around the ring in order to examine the dog from all required views without requiring the exhibitor to reposition the dog to accommodate a judge.
      2. A judge must have sufficient maneuverability when necessary to be able to avoid physical contact with a dog that may be attempting to attack.
      3. A judge is required to perform in a variety of weather and terrain conditions such as: indoor/outdoor rings, rain, muddy/uneven surfaces, hot or cold weather, concrete floors.
    2. The flexibility to examine all parts of a dog’s anatomy and be capable of measuring or weighing a dog, and examining a dog on the table or ramp, where appropriate.
      1. A judge must have the flexibility to examine each entry in an appropriate manner with attention to disqualifications and key points of the breed.
    3. The dexterity to judge at a sufficient speed to adhere to the schedule of the show-giving clubs and to AKC policy at the minimum prescribed rate.
    4. Normal vision (correctable by eyeglasses or contact lenses)
      1. An AKC judge should be able to demonstrate visual acuity of at least 20/60 with appropriate correction in the better eye in order to appropriately visually assess the conformation of show dogs in competition.
    5. The capability of completing all the necessary paperwork
      1. A judge is required to properly complete all necessary paperwork related to a disqualification, as well as verbally communicate the reasons to the exhibitor.
      2. A judge is solely responsible for marking, completing the cover and returning the judge’s book to the Superintendent’s desk.Performance Checklist – Internal Guidelines

        Procedures for Handling Situations of Judges unable to perform Judging Responsibilities:

        If it appears that a judge is unable to perform in any venue his/her judging responsibilities that Department will investigate the situation. Working within normal Department guidelines, additional information relative to the situation is gathered.

        1. If the matter requires inquiry beyond the ability and resources of the relevant Department or Division, the situation will be referred to the President with a request for permission to obtain assistance from outside the Department or Division.
        2. If the President concurs, direction will be given as to which other departments or employees are to assist and the extent of their involvement.
        3. A complete review will be conducted to ascertain the facts and ramifications of the situation to determine if the judge is adhering to established judging criteria.
        4. If it is determined that action is warranted, the judge will be contacted in writing and, if possible, in person to discuss the situation. It should be suggested, if warranted, to the judge that he/she elects to take emeritus status, take a leave of absence or retire, as appropriate under the circumstances.
        5. If the judge declines to accept the suggestion, Staff shall present to the Board a full report with a recommendation for removal of judging privileges.
        6. If the Board concurs with Staff’s recommendation, the judge will be notified in writing of the Board’s action. The judge will have 30 days from the date of the Board’s letter to file an appeal.
        7. If an appeal is filed, the Director will schedule a meeting with the Appeals Committee. The judge may: 1) attend in person or via conference call for a 30 minute presentation; or 2) make a written appeal with pertinent information. After review, the Appeals Committee may concur with or amend the Staff recommendation. Any recommendation by the Appeals Committee requires the approval of the full Board.
        8. The judge will be notified in writing of the Board’s decision.
        9. Any resignation or change to emeritus status will be published in the Gazette.

        In order to implement these procedures the following criteria need to be met:

        1. The judge’s background will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis as outlined in the aforesaid Procedures.
        2. When we receive a report that a judge is unable to perform his/her duties and is not following established judging criteria he/she will be designated for special observation by the Field Staff.
        3. On the next three assignments, at least two separate members of the field staff will evaluate the judge’s performance using the attached Performance Checklist. If it can be determined that the judge is unable to perform his/her judging responsibilities, a Staff member will have a personal meeting with the judge to ascertain if the condition is temporary or permanent.
        4. If the condition is permanent, the Staff will recommend to the judge that he/she consider resignation or accept emeritus status.
        5. If the judge advises the condition is temporary, when we receive two substantiated additional negative reports on his/her performance, the Staff may again recommend resignation or emeritus status.
        6. If the option to resign or accept emeritus status is refused by the judge, Staff will prepare a memo with documentation, recommending to the Board that withdrawal of judging privileges is in order.
        7. Staff may recommend that the judge be asked to obtain a physician’s written opinion that the judge is capable of judging and that the judge is not endangering himself/herself by judging.

  • Integrity of Judges (June 1996 Board meeting) +

    The Board unanimously adopted the following policy:

    The character and integrity of AKC licensed judges can reflect on the nature of AKC and our sport. AKC is proud of its cadre of judges, their reputations, and the contributions they make. There may come the rare occasion when character and integrity become an issue in the approval of a judge. As part of the judging approval system, the Board will consider evidence of the following:

    1. Conviction of any crime that relates to purebred dog issues or inhumane treatment of all dogs.
    2. Conviction of any crime involving moral turpitude, especially as it concerns dog related activities.
    3. Expulsion from good standing in any AKC recognized dog organization.

    It is not the intention of AKC to initiate a search for the above or to have “routine record checks.” However, if credible evidence is brought to the attention of AKC of the existence of the above, AKC will investigate such matters. Full opportunity will be given to the person in question to explain all circumstances involved.

    The existence of the above will be but one factor in the total consideration of a person’s judging approval. The Board will give appropriate weight to such factors considering its nature and degree of seriousness.

  • Judges Unable to Perform (November 2002 Board meeting) +

    If it appears that a judge is unable to perform his/her judging responsibilities, the situation will be investigated by the appropriate department management in consultation with the Assistant Vice President of the division. Working within normal Department guidelines, additional information relative to the situation is gathered.

    If the matter requires inquiry beyond the ability and resources of the relevant Department or Division, the situation will be referred to the President with a request for permission to obtain assistance from outside the Department or Division.

    If the President concurs, direction will be given as to which other departments or employees are to assist and the extent of their involvement.

    A complete review will be conducted to ascertain the facts and ramifications of the situation.

    If the appropriate Department/Division determines that action is warranted, the judge will be contacted in writing and, if possible, in person to discuss the situation, and it should be suggested to the judge that he/she elect to take Emeritus status, take a leave of absence or retire, as appropriate under the circumstances.

    If the judge declines to accept the suggestion, Staff shall present to the Board a full report with a recommendation for suspension or removal of judging privileges.

    If the Board concurs with Staff’s recommendation, the judge is notified in writing of the Board’s action. The judge has 30 days from the date of the Board’s letter to file an appeal with the appropriate Department.

    If an appeal is filed, the Department Director will schedule a meeting with the Judges Review Committee.

    The judge may:

    1. attend in person or via conference call for a 30 minute presentation;
    2. make a written appeal with pertinent information.

    After review, the JRC may concur with or amend the staff recommendation. Any recommendation by the JRC requires the approval of the full Board. The judge will be notified in writing of the of the Board’s decision. Any suspension, resignation, or change to Emeritus status will be published in the AKC Gazette.

  • Judging Applications and Pending Discipline (August 2006 Board meeting) +

    When a judging applicant is under investigation and has been informed or has been charged for alleged misconduct under AKC’s judging Misconduct Policy or under the disciplinary provision of AKC’s Bylaws, any judging application for breeds or classes will be held pending the resolution of the disciplinary matter.

  • Judging Misconduct (July 1998 Board meeting, amended at November 2018 Board meeting) +

    There was a discussion, continued from October, on proposed revisions to internal procedures for handling complaints concerning judges’ alleged misconduct.  Following a motion by Ms. Biddle, seconded by Mr. Powers, the Board VOTED (unanimously) to adopt the revised procedures recommended by staff.

    When an alleged incident of misconduct involving a judge arises at, or in connection with, an AKC event, the following guidelines should be followed by the Field Staff:

    • All complaints against a judge at an event which involve deviation from standard judging procedure and responsibilities will be reported to the Field Representative and handled internally by the AKC. (procedures follow)
    • All complaints against a judge at an event, which involves action allegedly prejudicial to the sport of purebred dogs and the AKC, will be reported to the chairperson of the Events Committee to be handled, if deemed appropriate, by the Events Committee.
    • The AKC office should be informed as soon as possible of any incidents referred to the Events Committee.

    Internal Procedures for the Handling of Complaints Concerning Judges’ Alleged Misconduct

    • The complaint is investigated by the Director or head of the applicable department. This includes conduct addressed by an Event Committee involving a judge, where further review by the applicable department determines additional action may be warranted specific to their judging privileges.
    • Working within the department’s normal guidelines additional information is gathered relative to the complaint and a written notice of the complaint is mailed to the accused giving ample time for a response.
    • If the matter requires investigation beyond the ability and resources of the department, the head of the applicable department will refer the matter to the President with a request for permission to obtain assistance from outside the department to do the necessary investigative work.
    • If the President concurs, direction will be given as to which other departments or employees are to assist in the investigation process, as well as the extent of that involvement.
    • A complete review is conducted to determine if the complaint has been substantiated.
    • If the department determines disciplinary action is warranted, the accused individual is notified in writing of the allegations and recommendation. The Staff’s recommendation (to include a penalty and precedence, if available) is then presented to the Board for adjudication.
    • If the Board concurs with the Staff’s recommendation, the accused individual is notified in writing of the Board’s action. The effective date for a suspension of judging privileges is ordinarily 30 days from the date of notification of the Board’s action. Extenuating circumstances and/or extreme transgressions may warrant an immediate effective date.
    • Final determination of discipline imposed to affect one’s judging privileges is the authority of the Board. The Board may recommend a matter be referred to the Compliance Department for further action pursuant to Article XII Section 4 the Charter and Bylaws of the American Kennel Club if it is of the opinion the misconduct warrants penalty to affect event or all privileges.
    • Judge should be marked inactive during the period of suspension and until receipt of payment of fine. Payment of fine prior to the expiration of the period of suspension will result in the judge being reactivated, with a judging referral placed until the expiration date of the suspension, as they may not be approved to judge at events that occur during the suspension period.
    • The accused individual has 30 days from the date of the Board’s letter to file an appeal with the Judging Operations, Performance or Companion Events Department. Receipt of appeal will delay any suspension until after the Appeals Hearing.
    • If an appeal is filed, the Director or head of the applicable department schedules a meeting with the Board Appeals Committee (BAC). The accused individual may; 1) attend in person or via conference call for a 30-minute presentation; 2) make a written appeal with pertinent additional information. The BAC reviews all material submitted and may concur with the recommended disciplinary action, amend the disciplinary action, or may recommend all disciplinary action be overturned. Any recommendation by the BAC requires the approval of the full Board.
    • This concludes the appeal process. The accused individual is notified in writing of the decision and the suspension/fine is published in the AKC Gazette.
    • Except in the case that all disciplinary action is overturned, the effective date for suspension following an appeals hearing is immediate.
    • Where discipline is a reprimand and fine, judge will have 30 days to pay the fine. Failure to pay will result in judge’s status being marked as inactive until receipt of payment.

  • Misrepresentation on Judging Applications (October 2000 Board meeting, amended at November 2018 Board meeting) +

    There was a discussion, continued from October, on proposed revisions to the penalty assessed for misrepresentations on judging applications. Following a motion by Ms. Cruz, seconded by Mr. Tatro, the Board VOTED (unanimously) to accept the proposed revision to the Application Misrepresentation Policy to be effective immediately.

    Mitigated – Denial of application and six-month suspension of application privileges by department.   

    Example of mitigating circumstances would include the inadvertent submission of inaccurate educational experience.

    Does not apply to clerical errors or those due to a misunderstanding of the application requirements; in those cases, the application is held and the applicant is provided the opportunity to correct.   

    Standard – Three-year suspension of application privileges and a $1000 fine.

    Example of a standard infraction would include the claimed educational, owner or breeder qualifications confirmed to be inaccurate and/or inclusion of numerous inaccurate educational experiences.

    Aggravated – Up to Lifetime suspension of all judging privileges and up to $5000 fine 

    Example of aggravated offense would include knowingly supplying inaccurate information and/or experiences on application for judging approval.

  • Ramps (May 1997 Board meeting) +

    At the discretion of the judge, the following breeds may be judged on a ramp:

    • Basset Hounds
    • Bulldogs
    • Chow Chows
    • Clumber Spaniels
    • Keeshonds
    • Kerry Blue Terriers
    • Polish Lowland Sheepdogs
    • Sussex Spaniels
    • Staffordshire Bull Terriers
    • Whippets

    A judge requesting the use of a ramp must give reasonable notice to the show superintendent/show secretary prior to judging. AKC approval is not required. Ramps may be used in emergency situations to judge any breed. In all but emergency situations, the exhibitor has no recourse. In an emergency situation, where use of a ramp is not indicated in the premium list, an exhibitor does have the option of withdrawing his/her entry and receiving a refund.

    The Show Events staff has the authority to handle future Parent Club requests to add or delete a breed from the list of those eligible to be judged on a ramp.

  • Reinstatement/Reactivation of Judges (April 2001 meeting) +

    All judges who voluntarily request resignation must submit a letter to Judging Operations.

    Judges who become AKC employees (and members of their immediate household) will be placed on inactive status and need not submit a letter to Judging Operations; additionally, judges who have not been heard from for five years or more and cannot be located are also placed on inactive status.

    Judging Operations staff will notify the Board at its next meeting of any resigned or inactive judges, after which the judge’s name will be published on the Secretary’s Page in the next available AKC Gazette.

    Judges requesting reinstatement of their judging privileges must do so in writing and successfully meet the current criteria. AKC Staff will review and validate the request and the Board will be notified at its next meeting. The judge’s name and approved breeds/groups will be published as Reinstated on the Secretary’s Page of the next available AKC Gazette.

    Current employees (and members of their immediate household) who have letters on file “resigning” their judging privileges, will now be considered to be on inactive status and must meet current criteria should they wish to be reactivated upon leaving AKC.

    Judges who have been on resigned/inactive status for less than one year would receive automatic reinstatement/reactivation.

    Judges who have been on resigned/inactive status for more than one year may not need to reapply under the current system if they can document continuous in-depth activity in the sport (see Note).

    Judges who have been on resigned/inactive status for more than one year must reapply under the current system if they cannot document continuous activity in the sport (see Note).

    Eligibility and the reason for reinstatement/reactivation must be reviewed and validated by Staff.

    All individuals resigned/inactive for more than one year must be interviewed on current Rules, Regulations, Policies, Guidelines and Breed Standards ; pass a Procedural Examination, Anatomy Test, and meet current requirements.

    Only previously approved breeds/groups may be reinstated/reactivated. In the case of a group(s) with a newly recognized breed(s), breed standard test(s) must be passed. Uncompleted Provisional requirements must be met before applying for additional breeds. Requests received from resigned/inactive judges meeting all eligibility requirements would receive automatic reinstatement/reactivation from AKC staff for all previously approved breeds/groups.

    The Board will be notified of all reinstatements/reactivations and the applicant’s name and breeds will be published on the Secretary’s Page of the next available AKC Gazette.

    Note: Continuous in-depth activity may include but not be limited to: judges who resigned to exhibit dogs on breed/group level; employment or Board service with AKC; licensed superintendent; dog food salesman or solicitor; publisher of a dog publication; other occupation or involvement at Conformation events on a weekly or monthly basis.

    Individuals may apply for additional breeds at the time of request for reinstatement/reactivation, if eligible. Applications for additional breeds will be handled under the current application process.

  • Salesman or Solicitor (April 2000 Board meeting) +

    The Board approved the following interpretations for these terms as they appear in Chapter 7, Section 1 of the Rules Applying to Dog Shows:

    • Salesman: One whose primary activity or occupation involves the sale or attempted sale of goods or services to specific individuals or entities.
    • Solicitor: One whose primary activity or occupation involves the seeking or facilitating of the direct sale of goods or services to specific individuals or entities.

  • Two Shows in One Day Policy Change (May 2018 Board meeting) +

    The Board reviewed a memo that recommends a change to the Multiple All-Breed or Limited Breed Shows in the One Day Program Board policy to restrict a judge to 100 entries per event not to exceed 175 entries per day according to the Rules Applying to Dog Shows Chapter 7, Section 13. Following a motion by Ms. Cruz, seconded by Ms. Biddle, the Board VOTED (unanimously) to amend to the Multiple All-Breed or Limited Breed Shows in One Day Program Board Policy, to restrict a judge to 100 entries per event not to exceed 175 entries per day according to the Rules Applying to Dog Shows Chapter 7, Section 13. This will become effective January 1, 2019.

  • Visiting Judges (Adopted July 2005, amended at February 2006 and August 2018 Board meetings) +

    The Board reviewed a memorandum to modify aspects of the Board’s Judging Approval Process which included recommendations to modify aspects of the Visiting Judge Policy contained within. Following a motion by Mr. Sweetwood, seconded by Dr. Battaglia, the Board VOTED (unanimously; absent Mr. Wooding) to consider the matter at this meeting waiving its normal notice procedures. Following a motion by Dr. Battaglia, seconded by Ms. Cruz, the Board VOTED (unanimously; absent Mr. Wooding) to approve all proposed modifications to be effective January 1, 2019.

    The modifications to the Visiting Judge Policy were:

    • The club must provide an interpreter if a Visiting Judge does not speak and read English AND is unable to provide an interpreter themselves.
    • The inclusion of an additional statement to further emphasize a Visiting Judge’s obligation to judge in accordance to AKC Rules, Regulations, and Polices, and AKC approved breed standards.
    • Visiting Judges may be approved to judge up to eight (8) days at All-Breed and/or Limited Breed events in one calendar year where previously limited to judge up to eight (8) all-breed shows per year.
    • Exempts the AKC National Championship from counting against a Visiting Judge’s annual assignment limit.
    • Re-establishes that Visiting Judges may be observed on Procedure and breed specific judging, the same as AKC judges

    The full revised policy on visiting judges follows:

    • Visiting judges who do not trade or traffic in dogs may be eligible to judge at AKC events, any breed(s) for which they are approved by an AKC recognized registry as listed in AKC’s Special Registry Services.
    • Visiting Judges invited to judge AKC events must abide by all Bylaws, Rules, Policies and Guidelines governing the sport of purebred dogs put forth by The American Kennel Club including the requirement to judge in accordance to AKC approved breed standards.
    • Judges from countries in which the AKC recognized registry registers breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club may judge all breeds and groups for which they are approved by their home kennel club to award championship points (including CC’s or CAC’s).
    • Visiting judges who are invited to judge (breeds and) groups, which contain breeds not registered in their country of origin, may apply for, take the test for and pay a $35 fee for each breed. Upon successful completion of this process, such judges will be approved by the American Kennel Club to judge those breeds in the future. Visiting judges who decline to apply under this process may continue to be approved for such groups as they were previously approvable under the terms, conditions, agreements and understanding under previous policy, provided that they judge breeds constituting at least 80% of the annual entries in that group at the time they are first approved for that group, based on the previous year’s count of entries.
    • Visiting group judges where the AKC group contains breeds registered in their country, but which are not within their corresponding group and for which they are not approved to judge, may be approved for such group(s), provided that they judge breeds constituting at least 80% of the annual entries in that group at the time they are first approved for that group, based on the previous year’s count of entries
    • Visiting judges from an AKC recognized registry may be approved to judge up to eight days of All- Breed and/or Limited-Breed assignments in one calendar year.  A multi-day event will count as one day.  Assignment to judge the AKC National Championship is exempted from this limit.
    • Individual breed judges may be approved to judge that breed at an unlimited number of AKC specialty shows and up to eight days of AKC All-Breed shows if they are approved to judge that breed in their own country and by an AKC recognized registry regardless of their residency.
    • AKC Club where a Visiting Judge is approved to judge its event, must provide an interpreter if the Visiting Judge does not speak and read English AND is unable to provide an interpreter themselves.
    • Visiting Judges are subject to observation by AKC Executive Field Staff.  Negative Observation Reports may result in denial of continued approval to judge AKC events, or the necessity to pass a procedural and/or breed examination(s).
    • Visiting Judges are not eligible for approval to judge Jr. Showmanship Classes at AKC events.
    • A visiting judge who has established residence in the U.S. will only be approved as a visiting judge for two years, after which they will be required to apply under the AKC system.
    • Visiting judges must document residency if U.S. mailing address is submitted.

    We invite visiting judges into our system. Visiting judges who wish to judge more than eight All-Breed shows per year may apply under AKC’s visiting judges’ approval process as follows:

    • Individuals must have judged at AKC shows for over eight years and have been an approved judge for ten years in their own country.
    • Visiting judges who have judged the breeds requested on the initial application at least eight times in the U.S. over the past three years will not be required to meet the match show judging and stewarding requirements or to judge Permit assignments.

    The following information is applicable to the visiting judge’s initial AKC judging application:

    • Applicant may apply for up to fourteen breeds based on the required background and experience.
    • Applicant must complete the judging application for submission to AKC Judging Operations Department and be published in the AKC Gazette.
    • Applicant must successfully complete all Anatomy and Procedural “open-book” exams.
    • Applicant must speak and read English OR arrange for an interpreter when judging at AKC events.
    • Educational background and preparation in country of residence will be considered for the breeds requested.
    • Three assignments in the U.S. must be completed before being eligible to submit a second application, which will be processed under the current AKC system.
    • Judges applying under this process must conform to AKC’s occupational eligibility and Conflict of Interest rules and guidelines.
    • Visiting judges choosing AKC approval will no longer be approved to judge AKC events using their previous visiting judging qualifications.

    Visiting Judge Exempt List

    Visiting judges on the Exempt list will be approved to judge unlimited assignments in the United States. The Board of Directors shall approve the addition of all persons to the Exempt list.