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IMHO – Questions Answered by Those Who Know

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136 – October, 2017


We asked an AKC Judge, Breeder/Owner/Handler & Professional Handler the following question: Should National Specialties move from place to place each year or always remain in the same location?
Here’s what they had to say…


Every judge feels honored and excited to judge a National Specialty. The large entry provides a judge the opportunity to bring the standard to life with the choices that are made. Each breed must decide whether that means holding their specialty where there is a likelihood of significant numbers or in the same place each year. Both options have been successful. Sites like the Purina Event Center attract exhibitors near and far. Clubs like the Pomeranians, Brussels Griffons, and Brittanys have a long history of holding their shows in the same place each year. They each draw large numbers. A club that selects a location that will likely result in a small entry needs to rethink the purpose of a Na- tional Specialty for their breed and the judge they have chosen.


I say yes to moving National Specialties, with a couple of exceptions. Most national breed clubs need the movement to make them truly national clubs, as it affords people of that region to readily see dogs many have only viewed in magazines. Also, it gives the national club the ability to offer their judges education to a more diverse set of participants, much needed breed specific education.

Exceptions would be PCA that I believe has found a new home atPurina Farms and Montgomery County Terrier Show that hosts large national club entries. Both of those shows have a traditional time and venue and have be- come a pilgrimage that can be planned for yearly.


I spent a considerable amount of time recently discussing this very topic: Rotating National Specialty Location. My parent club voted several years ago to rotate the national one year on the east coast, one year on the west coast and two years centrally. Consistently, the entry suffers when the national is held on one coast or another, and increases significantly when held centrally. Consistent with the decline in all breed show entries, national entries have also taken a hit. Trying to accommodate those on either coast is a double-edged sword: A significant amount of exhibitors cannot, or will not make it to one coast or another, but when the national is located in a central location, they go. Back in the day, when located in the central region, my national had an entry of 500-plus (for Chinese Shar-Pei that’s pretty good!). As a comparison, this year our national is located in the western region–Sacramento, California to be specific–and the total entry is 102! In 2013 we won the National and it was located in the Western Region, in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I believe the total entry was 240. There’s definitely a trade-off here. Entries will suffer but to be fair to those that live on one coast or another, clubs try to hold a national that those folks can get to without driving for days, or having to risk flying, etc. The Poodle Club of America is another good example. After numerous years on the East Coast in Salisbury, Maryland, PCA moved to Purina Farms, centrally located in Missouri: The entry for PCA last year was UP 30 PERCENT! If I were queen for a day, I would probably stick to a more centrally located National consistently.

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136 – October, 2017

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