Interview With Kathy Potter

  The following is an attempt to improve communication between the judges of our breed, and the people who show under them.

1.) Are you an active breeder of German Shepherd Dogs? Do you have a kennel name ?

Yes. TOKAYE, since 1976.

2.) How long have you been in the breed? When and how did you get started? Are you affiliated with any clubs?

Since 1975. My husband, Tom had always wanted a GSD to show. We began a search. He ran me to every kennel in our general area. Being a business person, I began to question why every breeder would want to sell us the "pick of the litter". We bought our first show quality bitch from Ellie and Rick Goede in 1975, who only promised to sell us a show quality animal,not their pick of the litter.. Yes. German Shepherd Dog Club of Greater Kansas City, GSDCA.

3.) How long have you been judging the breed?

Since 1994.

4.) How many times a year do you judge German Shepherds?

5-7 times.

5.) Over the last 2 years has the number of shows?

About the same.

6.) Have you ever judged the National Specialty? If yes, when and what classes ?

No. Not yet eligible.

7.) Do you judge at both all-breeds and specialties, which do you prefer ?

I prefer Specilties because I feel that the conditions are more conducive to the proper evaluation of German Shepherd Dogs. In particular, outdoor rings, large rings.

8.) Do you have a color preference?


a) Would the color of a dog influence your judgment? If yes, how and why?

I have put up B & T, Sable, Black, in short , the best dogs, in my opinion. I do, however, prefer rich pigment, and have tried to retain that in my breeding program.

b) Do you find it harder to judge solid blacks ? If yes, why?

Yes. They appear to be finer in bone, and quicker in step. I believe that you must be cautious not to evaluate them too swiftly, but to concentrate. Their faults are much more obvious.

9.) What importance do you place on condition of plush versus smooth coat? Please explain.

Both. All things being equal, I would of course prefer plush. However, condition is more important. If the lack of coat is due to seasonal shedding, then I know that will change when the animal returns to full coat. I will never ignore a good or great dog because he is not in full coat.

10.) When judging the dog do you also judge the handler? Please elaborate if possible.

No. HOWEVER, it is very important to me for my style of judging to see a dog going easy on a loose lead part of the time. The handler is integral to the completion of this requirement.

11.) What importance do you place on missing teeth?

Important and Not Important. The total dog is what I like to judge. In terms of missing teeth, our standard is specific. Any teeth missing other than first premolar is a serious fault. Other serious faults are: dogs with short tails or ankylosis. Very serious faults are: deficiencies in character which indicate shyness, faults of gait, either from the side or coming and going. And then there are the disqualifying faults. All the very serious faults and disqualifying faults must be measured more strongly than serious faults. The total dog is most important.

12.) How do you see bites today?

Good, but....I've seen more level, close bites in the last year to year and 1/2

13.) How do you see strength of ears?

Need improvement!

14.) Do you feel the GSD's temperament has improved over the past 5 years?

Yes. I have always done a loose lead temperament test. In addition, my procedure allows me to judge the dogs temperament during the entire judging of the class, and on into winners. From an exhibitor's and judge's point of view, temperament is much better now than in 1992.

15.) Do you consider temperament today to be? Please explain.

Good. See above #14.

16.) Do you prefer a dog to be shown on a loose lead?

I must see a dog on a loose lead. I prefer to judge them at an easy pace, but I will allow them to go hard if I have at least part of the time seen them loose.

17.) How would you rate the following in sequence of importance? (On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest).

Coming & Going: 7
Side Gait: 8
Temperament: 10
Teeth 3
Coat 1
Pasterns, hocks,feet: 5
Pigment: 2
Structure: 9
Shoulder & Reach: 6
Attitude: 4

18.) Could you briefly describe your ring procedure, and any changes you may incorporate between a small Vs large class

If it is a large class, I will break it up into groups of 4-5. . I move the dogs (by group) twice around the ring. I then bring each dog out for individual examination, having the handler stop the dog approximately 6-8 feet from me, while dropping the lead. I make eye contact with the dog, and then approach him. He is set up, where I then approach him from the front, making eye contact once again. I check bites, teeth, testicles (if males), tails, croups and general musculature and fitness at this time. I judge him coming and going, as well as individual loose lead gaiting during this time. . I then place each group, and after further evaluation, mix the groups, coming up with my final placings.

19.) Do you think there should be an age limit in placing points on a dog (i.e.dogs and bitches under 12 months of age)?

No. The animal closest to the standard on THAT day should win. If there were a limitation on age, then what would be the sense of entering younger dogs.

20.) If a dog is not exactly to the standard in size, would you prefer slightly larger or smaller?

Smaller. It appears to me from many of my assignments that our dogs and bitches are getting too large. I have judged some bitches who were probably at the top of the standard in size for males.

21.) Do you think on average German Shepherd Dogs are too extreme?


22.) In your opinion should double handling be allowed?

Yes. as long as it is done in a manner not detrimental to ringside or the dog. Our intelligent dogs need some motivation to perform, and double handling in my opinion is better than starving the dog so that he will stand or run for bait.

23.) Should all select dogs, in your opinion, be OFA (H&E)?


24.) When making the final selection, does the dog with the most front reach usually win the class?


25.) Do you feel more emphasis should be put on the total package, and less on movement?

Yes, but really the "total package" includes movement. The structure contributes to the movement, both from the side and coming & going. I do feel that sidegait should not be "the deciding factor", but one of them.

26.) Do you think the German Shepherd Dog standard should be changed?


27.) Do you think there should be any changes in any of the existing rules concerning dog shows? If so, please elaborate


28.) Is there a dog, whether alive now or not, who to you typifies most closely the "ideal" German Shepherd Dog ? If yes, please explain and give details

Some of the many greats who come to mind are Reno, DeCloudt's Heidi, Bear, Hawkeye, Mystique. But, there are many more.

29.) Do you feel that in general the quality of the breed in this country is getting better or worse ? Please elaborate

I feel that it definitely is better. In the late 70's and early to mid 80's dogs were very extreme, loosely ligamented, mostly rear and topline. Of course, there were and are exceptions, but you rarely see that type today.

30.) Do you have a pet peeve about anything owners or handlers do concerning the showing of dogs ?


31.) Do you have any suggestions for owners or handlers regarding anything they should ALWAYS do when showing under you ?

Show well cared for, bathed dogs to me.

32.) Do you have any suggestions for owners or handlers regarding anything they should NEVER do when showing under you ?

Handlers: Don't run fast, or let your dog run too fast. Owners: Don't over double your dogs.

33.) Do you have any advice for people who are relatively new to showing and/or breeding?

Enjoy it! Learn from each experience as well as from those around you. I have made some great friends, both human and canine while avidly pursuing this all-encompassing love of ours.

34.) Is there anything else you would like to say about judging or about the German Shepherd breed today ? If so, please feel free to say it here

Judging is something I truly enjoy. In my manner of judging I try to allow ringside and exhibitors to understand what I do. I try to give each dog a relaxed, comfortable environment, so that he can perform to his utmost.

35.) Have you ever judged one the of the greats? If so, can you give a rundown of this dog for the people who have not had the privilege to even see it.

Ch. Altana'S Mystique Mystique was shown to me at one of my first provisional assignments. Her individual standing examination was done offlead. The entire time she was in my ring, I had huge tears in my eyes. Her handler informed me later that he wanted me to have had the privilege of judging her.

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