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Has the Collie Club of America National Specialty been hijacked?

By Sally Futh, Starberry Collies

While it was not a complete or scientific study, I recently looked at how a number of national parent clubs choose their judges. These were all clubs with significant entries, not rare or low entry breeds. Several had considerably higher recent annual entries than Collie Club of America National Specialty.There were a variety of methods, but every one of these clubs allowed ALL members to choose the judges, as CCA did in the past. My research project began because a number of members have expressed unhappiness with our present system.

In most cases, such as Poodle Club Of America (PCA), members receive a ballot listing all eligible judges. In the Poodle case, members may nominate three in each of the three varieties. The votes are tallied and a certain percentage, the top vote-getters, are then re-presented and this final vote of the members determines the three judges. Doberman Pinscher Club of America (DPCA) allows all members, as well as all regional clubs, to nominate from the entire eligible list and then the top dozen are re-voted with ballots going to and being counted by a CPA firm.

American Spaniel Club (ASC) votes for two shows, members vote for the national and Cocker judges for the Flushing Spaniel Show. Members do the final vote; Board members are not eligible to judge. Pembrokes use a similar system with two rounds by the members and, as we do, the top judge chooses his or her assignment with the second choice doing the opposite (Note that it is two judges as in several other large specialties, rather than our cumbersome and perhaps outdated three in today’s smaller entries).

Right now I believe that this is one of the three most important issues facing CCA.

In more than a dozen parent clubs that use this system, final ballots vary between five and ten members (plus tie votes). One club chooses judges for multiple years at the same time. Most clubs take nominations from the membership and then this same group makes the final choices. In the Malamute club, the whole membership chooses the judges for regional specialties as well as the national. In another breed the host club submits ten names for approval by the Board of Directors and then the whole membership chooses among those ten. One parent club has the entire membership vote and the Board chooses from their top ten. Our system does not remotely resemble these democratic methods.

While not every member is equally qualified to compare judges’ abilities, all those who do show regularly, attend the national specialty and are seriously interested in the breed and preserving type, deserve to be included and have a say in the process.

For those who do not know or are not CCA members, our host club nominates five with – supposedly, more often honored in the breach than fact-concurrence from the rest of the directors in their zone. and then the BOARD votes for three from that list or from the entire list of eligible judges. The top 15 percent are presented for final vote, again by the Directors who are supposed to canvas their members before nominating and again before voting. This system too is more honored in its absence than actually followed. In all too many instances only the host and board have any influence at all on the results.

While not every member is equally qualified to compare judges’ abilities, all those who do show regularly, attend the national specialty and are seriously interested in the breed and preserving type, deserve to be included and have a say in the process. It doesn’t hurt to have attended multiple national specialties so that the voter knows what is required of a judge in stamina and ability to sort the wheat from the chaff in a large entry.


Our current board of over 50 is almost equally divided, one-third breeders and current or past exhibitors, one-third “fanciers” who show but do not actually breed most of their own stock nor who have established a line of their own, and a third are Collie lovers with very little past activity on the national scene. The foreign directors currently have a vote, which is actually contrary to New York State law governing our club as a non-profit corporation. Should less than 50 people make a decision for all of us?

There is considerable bias in judge selection. Allowing the voices of ALL members to be heard should limit this considerably. No system is perfect, but it appears that most American Kennel Club parent clubs have decided that their membership is the entity best qualified to make this important decision. If you too would seriously like to see our CCA members be represented in choosing the judges for the national specialty show, write to me at starberry@snet.net. More importantly, tell your director and the officers. And perhaps they will take another look at how it is done.

No system is perfect, but it appears that most AKC parent clubs have decided that their membership is the entity best qualified to make this important decision.

Right now I believe that this is one of the three most important issues facing CCA. The other two are our legal responsibility concerning the Constitution and health issues.


The opinion expressed in this article does not necessarily represent the views of the editors or publishers of colliesonline.com.

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