New Kennel Club plans to improve the standard of judging?

Note: This blog post is only valid between midnight 31st March 2013 and mid-day 1st April 2013.

Most Dachshund breeders will be aware that the Kennel Club launched its Mate Select program in 2011. This is an online software tool that breeders can use to help plan future matings, using information on individual dogs and a whole breed’s Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI). Over time, every registered dog’s health information may be accessible through Mate Select and in some cases the development of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) will also be available. These powerful tools will provide a whole new level of information to help breeders minimise the risk of producing unhealthy puppies and also avoid adversely affecting the genetic diversity of the breed as a whole.

We have obtained a leaked e-mail which describes the planned development of a similar set of online tools aimed at improving the standard of judging. These tools will be known as Judge Select and Estimated Judging Value (EJV). They will work in a similar way to Mate Select and EBVs.

In a first of its kind, the Judge Select program, which will be accessed via the Kennel Club website, will allow both occasional and regular exhibitors, as well as show societies, to assess the impact that a proposed judge will have.

As new judge screening tools are developed, these will also be incorporated into Judge Select so that, in future, exhibitors will be able to select judges to show under which will maximise their chances of winning a Challenge Certificate or Reserve Challenge Certificate and minimise their chance of wasting their money.

One of the first pieces of information that will be available from Judge Select is a COI value. This Coefficient of Incompetence will be calculated from a judge’s previous judging performance. It will be based on data such as:

  • the number of seminars the judge has attended
  • the number of breed assessments the judge has failed

The Kennel Club has already banned matings which would produce a Coefficient of Inbreeding of over 25% and the leaked e-mail suggests a similar approach will be taken with Coefficients of Incompetence. Any judge with a COI of 25% or more will be removed from judging lists.

Over time, Judge Select will also be used to provide Estimated Judging Values (EJVs). The mathematics behind these calculations is complex, but will take account of factors such as:

  • the number of times the judge has awarded CCs to their friends
  • the number of times they have awarded CCs to exhibitors whose dogs are by their stud dog
  • the average size of their entry compared with the breed average entry
  • the results of any eye testing, for conditions such as Kennel Blindness
  • the number of times a judge has asked a dog to move again and still awarded the top prize to the dog with the worst movement

A source said “These EJVs are based on very complicated calculations such as the prevalence of certain prejudices in a particular judge, or the size of the entry they draw. The database is the first of its kind to be able to compute all of this information and to tell exhibitors not only which judges will produce the most competent decisions, but which judges will have the most positive effect on the overall show entries of that breed.”

The program will be available for CC judges initially, because the KC knows their heritage and therefore has more information available for them, but it is expected that information about all other judges (from B and C Lists) will also be fed into this database.

For EJVs to be accurate you need to have competence information for as many judges as possible throughout the UK. This will come in the main from the feedback from exhibitors, but the contributions from KC Assessors and Evaluators are also extremely valuable.

Judging competence ‘bottlenecks’ such as that produced by the over use of popular judges (so called ‘greedy judge syndrome’) must be avoided to maintain judging diversity and keep the pool of judges as a whole, competent.

The program will be able to give each judge an EJV score below, average or above average for the breed. Alongside each will also be given an indicator of how accurate the score is for that particular judge. The top and bottom ranking five judges in each breed, according to their judging competence will also be provided.

It is important to note that EJVs can change over time. As more information on the judge from exhibitors, or from his/her peers, becomes available, the EJV can change as the accuracy of the estimate improves. And, since the EJV represents a judge’s risk of incompetence relative to the rest of the breed’s judges, if selection away from an incompetent judge is successful then the EJV will fall slightly.

With so many incompetent judges and the most incompetent judging occurring with such regular frequency, attempting to eliminate them too quickly would reduce the pool of judges to a dangerous level. The work being done to develop Judge Select and EJV calculations aims to provide exhibitors with tools to ‘optimise’ their choice of judges so that there is a low risk of them wasting their money in show entries and judging diversity is maintained at a sustainable level.

The leaked e-mail hinted that Judge Select will be launched on 1st April 2013. We can’t wait!

[N.B. This article first appeared in a Breed Club Newsletter in 2012.]

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