Guidance For Judges - Excluding And Withholding

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Since the Kennel Club introduced the regulation giving judges the authority to exclude a dog from competition due to health and welfare related conditions, various questions and comments have been received from judges and exhibitors. Therefore, to better explain the situation, the following guidance note has been prepared to assist judges.
It is important that if judges encounter problem dogs at shows, they are clear about when it is appropriate either to exclude the dog from competition on the one hand, or to allow it to compete and then withhold an award due to lack of merit on the other.


Kennel Club Regulations provide only two grounds for a dog to be excluded from competition;
  1. If it behaves in an unacceptable/aggressive manner, or
  2. If it shows clearly visible evidence of infectious disease, or some other condition(s) which adversely affects its health or welfare
Regulation F(1) paragraph 15 refers.

Dogs are therefore excluded from competition for reasons which are unrelated to the judge’s perception of the quality of the dog in so far as it may appear to be of excellent breed type and quality, but it nonetheless shows clearly visible evidence of unacceptable behaviour, infectious disease, or some other condition which adversely affects its health and welfare.

A judge should therefore consider excluding a dog from competition when he/she believes that a dog shows visible evidence of one or more of the following signs:
  • Lameness including ‘hopping’
  • Inappropriate temperament refusal to be handled, timidity or aggression
  • A discharge from one or both eyes or any signs of discomfort in either eye
  • Obvious breathing difficulty
  • Obvious skin or ear irritation
  • Significantly over or under weight
Before excluding a dog from competition for any of the above reasons, a judge should carefully consider whether the problem is obvious enough to leave no room for doubt or debate as to whether or not the decision to exclude from competition is justifiable.

Even in a large class with a sufficient number of acceptable dogs present, judges still have a duty to exclude any dog in the class that clearly displays one or more of the signs that require exclusion from competition.

When a dog is in fact excluded from competition, the reason for the action taken must be explained to the owner/handler, the show management must be notified and a report must be submitted to the KC within seven days of the show.

Judges are not expected to, nor should they, make or express a veterinary diagnosis when excluding a dog. The duty of care that the Kennel Club expects from judges is that of the experienced dog breeder who would be aware of deviation from normal conditions in their own dogs.

Any decision to exclude a dog from competition is final and is not open to appeal.

N.B. Judges should also keep in mind that a dog to which they give an award may, at the instigation of a show official or KC-appointed observer and following veterinary examination, subsequently be excluded from further competition at the show.


The circumstances when a judge may need to consider the withholding of an award are somewhat different to those that apply to exclusion from competition.

An award should be withheld if a dog fails, in the opinion of the judge, to meet the minimum quality standards that determine if a) it is breed typical; and b) it is of sufficient merit to justify the award.

There is likely to be room for debate between judges over the perceived merits of an individual dog with respect to interpretation of the breed standard whereas individual judges should be able to agree easily when a dog displays the signs that justify it being excluded from competition because it presents with aggression/timidity, infectious disease, unsoundness, or its health and welfare is otherwise visibly impaired.

When an award is withheld no further action is necessary on the part of the judge or the show management, however it preferable that the judge explains the reason for his/her decision to the handler in a polite and courteous manner.

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