New, Improved, Easy To Follow, Easy To
Understand, Expanded and Enlightened Version of
Show Quality Rating System Revised by Sandy Herzon
Several years ago I wrote an article on show quality for showing dogs and used a rating system of 1 to 10, with 10 being absolutely perfect, 5 being the cutoff point for show and of course anything below that, just not show quality at all. Keep in mind that this is for dogs being considered for show from a handler’s perspective. Dogs being evaluated for a breeding program will have an altogether different evaluation and of course knowing myself pretty well, that rating system will be written up on and published to the Reference Library in the near future, so if you follow all these informative renderings, stay tuned for more.
In the time that the first article was first published to the website, I have received more response to that article than any other article published to the website. I spend oodles of time answering and explaining that rating system and how it was applied. So in an effort to simplify a very complex subject, I have decided to revamp the 1 to 10 system and make it more like the numerical grading system used in most schools across the country. Some differences are that I will lower the bottom of the grading scale, widen the parameters for range and add new classifications.
So, without further ado, here is the new show dog rating system that I now employ and will use on any dog that comes for a show dog evaluation.
100—95 - WOW!!!! Absolute Show Quality, these are the “Wows”
94—90 - Really Great SQ, these are the top contenders at most shows
89—85 - Excellent SQ,
84—80 - Very Good SQ
79—75 - Finishable SQ
74—70 - Nice SQ
69—60 - Okay SQ
59—50 - Minimum SQ
Anything below a 50 will be deemed not Show Quality, however some of those receiving values below 50 could still be considered for breeding if there are no real faults according to the breed standard, but remember that’s another story to be told at a further date.
A Special Note: From time to time we see a total neophyte walk in the ring with a sub-standard dog. Everyone at ringside that has been into the breed for a while and that has an eye for true breed type will gasp at the sight of such a dog. Some heads will shake and others will just look away from the ring. If you show dogs long enough, you too will be a witness to such a sight and you will remember having read this past paragraph.
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be said to the owner of said dog, because just the fact that they show up with a dog so out of type would suggest that they are totally clueless to seeing the difference between their exhibit and those others that are really worthy of being in the show ring.
It takes 3 or 4 weekends of shows, maybe 6 months or so, for these people to start to get an inkling that their Pooch is not show quality. At first they blame the judges for being blind or for the professional handlers getting the wins or for people being rude to them. Within time they begin to seek input from others at ringside and mercifully, they will put the dog up and hopefully attach themselves to a reputable breeder who will entrust a better specimen of the breed for them to show.
Let’s start at the bare minimum:
50 to 59 This is the bottom of the Show Quality grading scale, those dogs rating from 50 to 59. Remember, there are dogs that are showing that are below this threshold, but those are fraught with faults, disqualifications and major deviations from the type that judges will not consider them at all or worse yet, will hold placement for lack of merit and some will be excused from the ring altogether.
Back to the beginning or lower end of the scale, we will give these dogs a MINIMUM Show Quality rating. A dog with a Minimum rating is a dog that is worthy of being shown at a dog show because it adheres to the breed standard without too many observable faults or weaknesses. However, it is one that probably will never win a single point. We see these types week in and year out. They do not stand out in any way or form. They are there at every show for months or in some cases, for a couple of years and then they disappear. So a 50 to 59 will be referred to as worthy to be shown, but of minimal consequence as a competitor at a show dog. There are many of these “worthy” dogs showing in any area. Although some of these dogs may never win a single point, they are of some value, for they add to the numbers of dogs showing and make it worthwhile for the winning dogs to compete, remember that the more dogs defeated, the higher the point value for that winning dog. These dogs get very little attention from the knowledgeable breed people at any ring, in fact when asked about these dogs; you are likely to get a blank look and not much in verbal comment. This level represents about 10% of the dogs being shown in any breed. We tend to see just as many males as females in this category. Most owners of dogs in this range tend to be beginners who have yet to develop the eye for the breed. Almost all these dogs are owner-handled or might have a mid-level professional handler on them making what is referred to as “gas money” for their efforts with that particular dog.
60 to 69 Okay The next level up the show quality rung is those dogs in the 60 to 69 range. These dogs are worthy of being shown and will garner a few points in a drawn out campaign and most will never achieve the champion’s title. These dogs represent another 10% of the dogs being shown at any given time and place. These dogs are generally referred to as being “Okay”. We also see as many females as males in this range. Once again, most dogs in this range tend to be owned by beginners and some intermediates and most are handled by owners, those tendered by professionals are once again contributing to the kitty.
70 to 74 Nice This level has about 20% of the dogs shown in any area. They are referred as being “Nice”. These dogs have the capability to win points, however since most are owner-handled, most will never finish their title since winning for them is few and far in between and many will run out of time before they accumulate the needed 15 points, especially winning the 2 majors needed for the AKC champion’s title. Towards the end of their career, we see many of these dogs handed over to a professional dog handler to try and finish out the remaining points, especially the major-pointed wins.
75 to 79 Finishable This level brings us some competitive examples. We shall refer to this group as being “finishable". These dogs are handled by as many owners as professionals and are likely to finish out their titles with good handling and the right mix of judges. This is probably the biggest group of dogs in any given area as they probably comprise about 25% of the dogs in any one breed. Most of the time they tend to blend in with the middle of the pack, but once in a while they to seem to sparkle enough to catch the judge’s eye and be in the mix for the points on those occasions.
80 to 84 Very Good. These dogs are competitive enough and will be in the “mix” at any dog show and every once in a while will surge and give the judge a great look and win points even with owner/handlers on them. These dogs are good enough for professional handlers to approach the owners with their services to handle this dog. These can finish regardless of who handles them, with owner/handlers it will take longer, usually in over 60 shows. These will comprise about 15% of the dogs in competition and are usually owned by beginners as well as intermediate breeders.
85 to 89 Excellent. These dogs will finish out and it is just a matter of time as they will stand out most of the time. Many of these dogs are handled by the professionals and we see many of them shipped from out of state from some of the top kennels up north. They usually will finish in 40 shows are so and comprise about 10% of the dogs shown. Some of the area intermediate and more advanced breeders will consistently produce dogs of this type and will place them with show clients.
90 to 94 Really Great. These dogs come from the top kennels of the area and also are brought into the area from up north by professional handlers. Some of the more recognizable kennel names adorn their prefix. The majority are professional handled and will finish in a short time, between 15 and 25 shows. Many of the intermediate and advanced breeders in any given area produce this type of dog and end up keeping them to compete with at the dog shows themselves.
95 to 100 WOW!!!!!. We all know when we see these individuals. Not too many breeders will sell these dogs, unless they get an ungodly amount of money or they lease the dogs out for a period of time. These dogs get “campaigned” and our shown all over the country with big bucks backing them. The goal here is to title these dogs quickly and to promote and advertise them for eventual stud service use. Almost anyone handling these dogs will win and finish them, even a stark rank beginner.
From the 25 Chambray champions the following is a breakdown of where they would fit into the above rating system.
100 – 95 5 dogs
94 – 90 9 dogs
89 - 85 4 dogs
84 – 80 5 dogs
79 - 75 1 dog
So we see that 20% of our champions would be in the highest bracket as show dogs, the WOWS! They each finished very easily in a very short period of time. Several were ranked in the top 50 Labradors USA, one a #9 and another #22 USA. We have Eukanuba and Westminster attendees from this illustrious list.
36% of those that have finished would fall into the Really Great range. Dominating the wins and finishing relatively easy in a shortened period of time.
We see another 16% that would fall into the Excellent category. They each finished out in a slightly extended campaign.
We have 20% of our champions that were Very Good and each had their day in the ring, enough of those days that they finished out their titles.
There was one dog that would be considered Finishable by our rating system that eventually finished out their title in an extracted period of time and that would be 4%.
Keep in mind that those elements that make a great show dog go way beyond conformation as it takes presence, charisma and flare for a dog to truly be at the top of the charts as a Show Dog!
Responses to the above article.
In order to provide continuity to this and other articles, I have added the responses and questions that I have received on these articles and my answers to each as a form of continuing education.
I have read and re-read the New & Improved Show rating system that you employ to rate dogs for show purposes and it really boggles the mind that people with inferior dogs would spend the amount of money that it takes to campaign a dog with little or no expectations what'so ever of ever being a champion. Can you shed some light on this subject?
Showing dogs has evolved into more of a personality thing than it is about bringing the best specimens to the ring to perpetuate the best qualities of the breed when selecting stud dogs or the bitches to breed to them. Many people will show a dog merely because they own the dog and have the money to spend on the activity and in many cases the dogs are like their children being taken to beauty pageants, more for the parent's sake than for the kid's sake.
I'm sure that you think all your dogs are perfect and are better than the dog's of your competition. What makes you think that your dogs are better than anyone else's?
There probably is some truth in your assertion, as it is human nature to always favor whatever it is that one owns or has. In my evaluations for show quality, I try to be as impartial as can be and call it as I see it. I certainly do not do it for the money as a handler, for I turn away 90% or more of those that come to me with dogs for handling assignments. Yes, each one of those people that receive a "Not Show Quality" evaluation is one less client for me to handle at the dog shows and that means lost revenues.
In every sport and competition that I have ever participated in, I have always gone into it as a winner and have come out of it with my fair share of the winnings, likewise with dog handling. I want to win and I want to win with the dogs that I am handling, it is in my competitive nature!
In order to succeed as a handler, I only take on dogs that I feel will be competitive. Then we take those dogs and train them to perform, we also condition them to be in top shape and then we provide the best handling possible for them. Success is measured in certifiable results and those results are easily accessible at various locations. www.infodog.com and www.onofrio.com all maintain a record/catalog of each show that they supervise here in Florida.
Is it better dogs, or is it the training/conditioning or is it the handling? Maybe its a combination of all of those ingredients, but I also will credit my evaluation process.
Hi Mr. Herzon
I have been following the dog shows in Florida for over 2 years now and plan on showing my own dogs soon. Someone told me that you build "majors" by bring extra dogs and create unfair competition by bringing so many dogs to a show. How do you explain this situation?
Hi M Smith
Most breeders in Florida only have a dog or two that are worthy of being shown and those are the dogs that they bring to the shows. I manage dozens of dogs from other breeders and from the many owners that are part of my Partners Program which will add another couple of dozen dogs that I have the luxury of choosing from to bring to the dog shows. So, yes, I do bring more dogs than anyone else does, simply because I have a vast number of superior quality dogs to choose from. I would probably bring more, but there might not be enough "hands" to go round, so we end up leaving dogs behind that might be as good as most of the other dogs brought in by the competition. If judges are selecting the best dogs as the winners, then it really doesn't matter how many dogs anyone brings. You may bring 100 dogs, but if none are worthy, then your chances of winning are slim to none and you have just built a major for someone else!
Several years back a now defunct Homestead Labrador breeder tried matching the number of dogs that we had entered at a local dog show, because they did not have the depth of quality they ended up failing miserably in their attempt at flooding the entries, because not many of their dogs placed and none won anything for the whole weekend, in essence building a major for our dogs that won every single class at those two days of shows.
I lay it out for anyone in this business, bring your best, be it 1 or 10 or 100 dogs, because I am going to be bringing it on with all of my best dogs and may the best dog win!
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