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News From New Zealand

~ The Show System in The New Zealand ~

by Elizabeth Blake-Watts - Wintersett Collies, NZ

I had my first collie in 1968 whilst living in Yorkshire, England, a Simb-a-Star dog from Mrs Illingworth, the breeder of Ch Mywicks Satine of Simb-a-Star. A further two Simb-a-star collies followed, with my first Wintersett litter born in 1970.In 1974, my ex-husband John Blake and I emigrated to New Zealand where we lived in the North Island, taking our collies with us. We were both very active collie exhibitors, breeding purely to English lines and subsequently imported our famous Mr Chips son, Ch Kayroy Argonaut, followed by an Arranbrook bitch and Corydon dog. On the break-up of my marriage I moved to the South Island where I have continued to breed and show under the Wintersett prefix. I imported English Champion Aberhill Mr P'We in 1995 from Shirley Toothill and very quickly gained his NZ title. I have made up a total of 13 NZ champions and have had many group and 'in show' wins through the years.We are also proud owners of a very spoilt Border Collie show dog bred by Mr & Mrs Vos of Clan-Abby Kennels. I am licensed by NZKC to judge all working (herding) dogs and toy breeds to championship show level and am looking forward to judging the South Australian Collie Club championship show in June this year. I have also been Secretary of All-Breeds clubs for the last 15 years and enjoy the challenges of running these larger shows.

The Show Scene

The New Zealand Kennel Club is the organisation in charge of all dog show matters and is affiliated to The Kennel Club, England. All dog show exhibitors and breeders must be financial members of the New Zealand Kennel Club as well as members of their local All-Breed clubs or Breed societies. This year it also became mandatory to be a financial member of NZKC in order to handle or exhibit a dog at a Championship or Open show. The majority of championship shows are held by All-breed clubs with Breed clubs having a maximum of two championship shows a year, depending on the size of their entries. There are also Group clubs also holding championship shows. We also have Open shows and Ribbon Parades. The latter are small local shows open to entry on the day to members and non-members of NZKC.

All recognised breeds in NZ are eligible to be awarded CCs at the all-breed or group championship shows, unlike UK where CCs may be limited. An average sized All-Breed show in the North Island would be perhaps 800 dogs and in the South Island between 500 and 700 dogs. Our dogs are judged to the official NZKC standard for each breed, which for the majority of the breeds would be the English standard ( For Roughs we use the old British standard!). We do not follow the FCI system. No critiques are allowed to be given except when specifically requested from the judge at a specialist club show. A judge will usually be engaged to judge the whole of the breeds for at least one group, often two groups, amounting to a maximum daily of 250 dogs per judge. There are a total of seven groups which are: Toys, Terriers, Gundogs, Hounds, Working, Utility and Non-Sporting.

Classes are set to a maximum of six per sex per breed at an All-Breeds show and these are mainly age related, starting with Baby Puppy from 4 to 6 months. Puppy class is from 6 to 12 months, Junior from 12 to 24 months, Intermediate from 2 to 3 years and Open all ages. There is often a NZ Bred class also. Dogs are only permitted to be entered in one breed class at All-Breed and Group Club championship shows. There are many other breed classes available for specialist breed clubs including Minor Puppy, Novice, Limit, Veteran, etc. All dogs classes are judged before the bitch classes with each class winner brought back in for the challenge line-up and after awarding the CC, the reserve class winner from the same class is brought back in before awarding the reserve CC. The same procedure is then carried out for the bitches and after completion of bitch judging, Best of Breed is judged between Best Dog and Best Bitch, followed by Reserve Best of Breed. This is not automatically awarded to Best Opposite Sex as in Australia. All Dog and Bitch class winners are then judged against each other to find the breed class winners. All ' of breed ' winners must present themselves for the group judging at completion of the breed judging and this begins again with Best of Group, following right through with Best Baby Puppy of Group. etc. The winners of all these group awards must again compete against each other group, for Best in Show, Reserve Best , Baby Puppy, Puppy in Show, etc.

Because of our mostly all-breed system here, combined with the practicalities of few numbers of each breed of dog, judges are mostly All-Rounders. New Zealand has a very tough judges examination system involving theoretical and practical examinations, but a judge sits for a whole group at a time. You need to be able to memorise and understand standards sufficiently well to be able to sit the multi-choice exam and be unnerved by the practical examination process and remain cool, calm and collected.

Numbers of rough collies shown at the all-breed shows can vary from as little as half a dozen, up to 30 or more. A dog requires 8 Challenge Certificates under at least 5 different judges in order to gain his title of "Champion". We don't have a point system. Yes, champions are shown, some exhibitors persisting in showing these for the whole of the dog's life. Some dogs may be taken to every show in their own island, even flown to the other island, from the age of 4 months until they are 7 or 8 years old. I can't help feeling sorry for for some of these dogs being dragged around the country nearly every weekend of the year, ostensibly to gain a Grand Champion title, but in reality to keep anyone else from taking the CC!. The system of 'Grand Champion' exists here where a dog winning 50 CCs and at least 3 ' Best In Show ' awards may become a "Grand Champion". To my knowledge no roughs have aspired to this title as they rarely win Best in Show All-Breeds.!

We have no specialist breed clubs for rough and smooth collies, only the four multi-breed "Collie Clubs" which cater for Rough, Smooth, Border and Bearded Collies. Their championship shows therefore, require a judge that is licensed to award CCs to all four breeds, which can be a problem when bringing out to NZ UK specialist judges.

Travelling to a show here can be a long exhausting drive, New Zealand roads are not motorways, driving is long and arduous and often involves crossing mountains and can be a day's travel in itself getting there. Here in the South Island we regularly cross the Southern Alps to attend shows which might be " Back to Back": That is two championship shows held on the same weekend at the same venue. It can be particularly disappointing when the judging is of a poor standard and the dog gets a total of two minutes in the ring as Shirley and Glenda Toothill have just experienced. Shirley didn't think she would continue to show dogs under such a system! I must admit there's many a time I also think it's time to call it quits! I do think however that some other breeds have a more balanced approach to showing. Take for example the German Shepherds, they have a very dedicated specialist following and the breed clubs bring out overseas specialist judges each year. Those breeders that follow the specialist type do not have to rely on CCs won at All-Breed shows and indeed many of these breeders never exhibit other than under breed specialists. Perhaps this is a little sad as the NZ judges then never get to judge the cream of this breed.

When all said and done, I do believe in a balanced approach where a breed may be influenced and judged by both specialists and all-rounders. I just wish that for rough collies, we could just see a little more of the specialist judging here in NZ.

Dogs - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Elizabeth Blake-Watts - Wintersett Collies, NZ

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