This section is from the book "Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors", by Neville Lytton. Also available from Amazon: Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors: Including The History And Management Of Toy Spaniels, Pekingese, Japanese, And Pomeranians.
Perhaps the meanest of all judges is the man who tries hard to buy a dog for himself and on failing to get it pegs the dog back at every opportunity. No man who is capable of this is fit to judge at all. Of course a man who acts as agent for others may try to buy a dog by special request of a client and may not like the dog himself. I am not, however, referring here to dog brokers, but to people who are independent of dog selling as a trade.
Beginners mink they can trust to their instinct, but this is all rubbish. Put them in the ring without a judging book and tell them to pick out the winners in several successive classes and you will soon see how they will revoke. Not one in a million has the natural instinct for harmony of proportion, which will prevent his making grievous mistakes, but even this millionth man cannot exist unless he has already had training of eye in some other way and has developed the faculty of critical comparison. You might as well expect to be a professional tea-taster by instinct as a judge of proportion without training, either conscious or unconscious. You must have the natural aptitude as well as the training, for though natural aptitude is totally insufficient without training, yet no amount of training will replace natural aptitude entirely. A judge without natural aptitude will always judge laboriously and slowly. His experience will probably pull him through without discredit, but he is always liable to lapses of judgment.
The inexperienced judge with a natural eye will make mistakes at first from inexperience, but directly he gets experience he knows in a flash what he likes - the best dogs stand out like moons among stars - and his rapidity of decision infuriates novice exhibitors because they imagine he cannot have looked at the dogs properly. His natural genius for seeing, comparing, sorting, and valuing is something of an editorial gift
The first look round his class shows him the best dogs. He looks them over carefully, in order to discover unsoundness, or to compare two that are very close in points, but, unless there is something very unusual about the dogs, his first glance round is really the deciding one as far as the first dog is concerned, unless the quality of the exhibits is far more level than is usually the case at shows. One very good way for a judge to make up his mind, if he is hesitating between two dogs, is to ask himself which dog he would choose if each were offered to him at the same price and he could only buy one of them. I have often heard a judge say: " Such and such a dog is not what I like, but I felt I had to put him up because his points are so remarkable/' A man ought not to feel forced to put up a dog he does not like any more than he feels forced to buy it. This attitude betrays weakness of mind, and is almost invariably brought about by having constantly heard the dog publicly praised and not having nerve enough to boldly go against the tide of public opinion.
But let me here again impress upon judges that they are there to teach and form public opinion and not to be guided by it.
If a judge recognises in the ring a dog which he has previously owned or bred and he is not absolutely certain of his own judgment, it is a good plan to handicap the dog ten points for personal bias and then judge as usual. If an enemy shows a dog under him he may allow him ten points to counteract his probable prejudice. A real connoisseur will not need to do this as he gets so enthusiastic over a good dog that he would not care a straw how much he hated the owner and often feels quite a glow of temporary sympathy for that person on account of his dog.
Exhibitors would make the shows much pleasanter for themselves if they would observe the good manners of ordinary life, but for some curious reason it is quite a common thing for respectable, well-mannered people to become rude and insolent, as exhibitors. They seem to consider that the atmosphere of the shows absolves them from all the canons of decent politeness, which govern civilised human intercourse, and make themselves ridiculous as well as unpopular. It is not good manners to stand before any dog's pen at a show picking out faults in a loud voice, so that the owner can hear. Why make needless bad blood? Many people do this to show off. If the dog is a bad one, it is a tactless and unkind thing to do. If it is a good one, it only makes the perpetrator ridiculous.
If a rival exhibitor asks your opinion on his dog, and you really think it a flyer, be generous and don't try to pick out invisible defects. Some people think it is clever to invent defects and impress the bystanders by appearing rather contemptuous of a dog which is obviously first class, but instead of cleverness, it is the surest sign of ignorance and betrays the foolishness of the person who does it sooner than anything else. Of course if you do not admire it and are asked for your candid opinion, you should say honestly where you think it is wrong, but beware of raising objections unless you can illustrate your meaning in detail and are sure of your ground; if you dislike the owner you need not say quite all you think, as you must be all the more careful to be just to his dog. He will admire you for it in his heart however disagreeable he may be outwardly, and the next time he says anything unpleasant about your dog he will probably have a very salutary feeling of shame It is policy to do good to those that hate you, because in the long run they leave off hating you, whereas the dog fancying principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth keeps ill feeling at boiling pitch.