Developing An Eye For a Dog: Recorded LIVE
San Mateo Kennel Club invited PureDogTalk to sponsor a live expert roundtable at its all-breed show in March. Exhibitors who participated were treated to a rare opportunity to interact directly with some of the most knowledgeable people in the sport. Judges Pat Trotter, Desmond Murphy, and Ken Murray were joined by professional handler Andy Linton to address the topic of developing an eye for a dog and answer audience questions.
“Lifers” Share Their Knowledge
These folks are what we think of as “lifers” in dogs. They started young with a passion for dogs and have applied that intensity to achieving their goals as breeders, handlers, and judges. Each and every one of the panelists is a lifelong student, who possesses the noted “eye for a dog” we were discussing.
While each of the panelists brought their own perspective to the conversation, there was complete agreement that developing an eye for a dog entails focusing on and rewarding a dog’s virtues rather than picking at faults. Riffing on a quote from the well-known judge of the ‘60s, Bea Godsol, whom Trotter noted was gifted with a tremendous eye for a dog, the panelists each shared their spin.
Ken Murray – “Great dogs carry their faults well,”
Pat Trotter – “An absence of faults doesn’t guarantee virtue,”
Desi Murphy – “Great dogs blind you to their faults.”
Andy Linton agreed, noting also that, “having an eye for a dog gives you responsibility in so many ways. Do I take that dog to show? Do I put that dog up? Do I breed that dog? The more you know, the more responsible you become.”
“An eye for a dog,” according to Trotter, “is when you see one that gets your attention. It’s an arresting animal because it exudes beauty and correctness. Like a work of art.”
Trotter added wryly, “Sometimes great dogs get lost at shows where they are the right look. They’re different from the other dogs who are, shall we say, modest at best.”
Even if a person isn’t “born with it” in terms of that eye for a dog, Trotter does believe that studying and learning, and listening to the greats in a breed will allow someone to develop the skill.
Murphy qualifies that with an observation that some people are simply better at the skill than others.
“I mean there were certain subjects, if I went to school for 10 years on that subject I would never have been any good,” Murphy observed. “… judges are like dogs. You have excellent, very good, good, satisfactory and unsatisfactory.”
When an audience member asked how to know which judges have an “eye for a dog” and how to discern to whom they should show their “great dog that doesn’t look like the others,” Bill McFadden, speaking up from the gallery, noted we all need “an eye for a judge.”
Trotter summed up much of the advice with this observation, “I think one thing that helps breeders is to look at your own dogs with a jaded eye. Look at them with a jaded eye and see their shortcomings. And look at your competition through rose-colored glasses. That will help you advance in your efforts to become a better evaluator as a breeder and exhibitor.”
Please enjoy this special and valuable conversation. What it may lack in our normal audio quality, it more than makes up for in the quality of the knowledge.
Additional Q&A coverage from this event is available ONLY to our PureDogTalk Patrons! Click the button on our website to “Be My Patron on Podbean” for more information about joining the “in” crowd.
And, making a surprise Thursday appearance, Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week from the Leading Edge Dog Show Academy provides insight on dealing with stains on white dogs.
AKC Judge Desi Murphy – 3rd Generation in Dogs
Desi Murphy was born into the sport of dogs. His grandfather managed kennels in Scotland, his father managed a whippet and greyhound kennel in the U.S.
While surrounded in his youth with 125 sighthounds, Desi’s found a love of terriers, bully breeds and Chows.
Bullies are different…
Desi, now a legend in the sport, is licensed to judge the sporting, terrier, and toy groups.
Santa Barbara Breeder Showcase
Desi Murphy is co-chair for Breeder Showcase at Santa Barbara Kennel Club, and event in it’s ninth year.
Now an in-demand event, the Breeder Showcase is extremely competitive. Dogs are often brought out of retirement for the competition or young dogs held out just for their debut.
A perk for the exhibitors is dinner and wine at the event.
Desmond Murphy – The AKC Judge
Laura Reeves asks Desi what he first looks for in the breed ring.
Evaluate breeding stock…What was the dog bred to do?
For example, the three setters work in different terrains, so their structure must meet their function. In bicycles, you have a mountain bike, road bike and beach cruiser – each are built to work in different terrains.
Some breeds are getting carried away, and showiest is not always the best. Basset Hounds in Mexico, for example, are getting too big. Remember, if a Basset Hound meets a fence on the trail, the hunter has to pick him up and place him on the other side of the fence. You can’t lift an 80 lb basset.
Condition is second…
Dogs need to be fit and in good health and condition.
Movement is a test of structure
The structure standing should be seen and confirmed in a dog moving.
Advice to Exhibitors
Have the best dog. Often exhibitors ask what they can do to win with a dog… have the best dog. Ask other breeders and professionals to evaluate your dog against the breed standard. Know your standard.
Future of the Dog Sport?
As an international judge, Desi see younger exhibitors, and younger breeders in other countries than the U.S.
Russia is strong in most breeds, and Korea and China are close behind
Some handlers started showing at eight years of age, and have bred multiple litters by the time they are 21. We need youth willing to be breeders.
AKC Biography of Desmond Murphy
Desmond Murphy, of Monroe, New York, is a third-generation dog man¿his grandfather, father, and two uncles all having been handlers. Born in Scotland, he was reared among Greyhounds, Whippets, and terriers at his family’s Mardormere Kennels in upstate New York.
He began handling in 1958, working under his uncle John Murphy, a distinguished handler and judge. Mr. Murphy, known as Desi, points to his handling of seven different Best in Show Chow Chows as his proudest achievement.
Mr. Murphy has been an AKC judge since 1976 and is approved to judge 93 breeds. He last judged at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in 2003.
Mr. Murphy is a member of the Tuxedo Park Kennel Club, the Santa Barbara Kennel Club, and the Saw Mill River Kennel Club, and is treasurer of the Non-Sporting Group Club of the Garden State. He considers “learning the value of preserving breed type” to be the most valuable lesson he has learned in dogs.
Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week:
How to Use Bath Products Properly
Shampoos and Conditioners need to be used properly to achieve results. The best scissors, training and handling can’t compensate for poor cleanliness or coat condition.
Listen to Episode # 107 How To Properly Bathe Your Dog for more on how to bathe properly.
- Use your shampoo according to the directions. It’s formulated for a reason so measure it out!
- Leave the product on the dog long enough to work. 5 minutes for shampoo and 7-10 minutes for color or deep conditioner.
Allison’s Conditioner Trick
Conditioners don’t mix well with water. Use a cheap immersion blender to mix thoroughly and smooth out all the globs.
More tips and courses are available at Leading Edge Dog Show Academy.