First, an introduction to explain on what basis I can write this article. First and foremost, I am a dedicated Corgi breeder on a very small scale, but I also have been a long time member of the Norwegian Kennel Club board of directors and on the Judges' Training Committee. In addition to judging Corgis, which I have judged on three continents and in most countries in Western Europe, I am also qualified to judge around 30 other breeds with CC.

The first thing non-FCI judges worry about when invited to judge in FCI countries seems to be the grading of the dogs. The second is writing critiques. But one thing you don¹t have to worry about is your Judge's Book. All paper work is taken care of by the ring steward and all you have to do is give it a check and sign it at the end. Basic ring procedures are also the same.


As in all countries, you get the full class in the ring and are able to get an overview. Then each dog has to be gone thoroughly over, given a written critique and graded. When all in the class are graded, they come back for placement, as in other countries. In some countries all, in others only those with sufficient grading. This may vary from country to country, but rest assured, your ring steward will keep you up to date on this. The same goes for choosing best male and best female, - rules may vary, but your ring steward is responsible for keeping the right dogs in the ring and inform you from which class they come.

The highest grade is EXCELLENT. This means the dog is close to the ideal of the standard of the breed, in excellent condition, well tempered and well presented. Minor imperfections can be ignored, but a male must be masculine, a bitch feminine.

VERY GOOD is awarded to dogs who are typical for their breed, well-balanced and in good condition. A few minor faults may be tolerated, but none that affect the soundness of the dog.

GOOD is to be awarded to dogs who have the main features of the breed, but show faults that detract from type or soundness.

SUFFICIENT means you can recognize which breed it is, but the dog has serious faults that detract from type and/or soundness.

Dogs who are severely untypical, or are aggressive, must be DISQUALIFIED. The same goes for males who do not have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum. FCI policy is to adopt the breed standard of the country of origin. That means for Cardigan Welsh Corgis that they are judged according to the standard accepted by the British Kennel Club.

The British standard has no disqualifying clauses. However, one has been added to all the FCI breed standards: «Dogs displaying sign of aggression or physical defects affecting the dog's health/soundness must be disqualified». FCI goes on to explain that this also goes for flawed bites, coats and colours other than asked for in the standard, plus albinism. This means that overshot or undershot mouths in our breed should lead to disqualification, and also a fluffy  coat, even though the standard doesn't clearly say so, as well as dogs with the colours that go with brown noses. Bear in mind that dogs with a really unsound anatomy also should be disqualified under this clause, but not dogs that are temporarily lame.

Dogs that are difficult or impossible to assess, due to not being trained to move on the leash or not used to being handled by others so that the judge can go over it, but not aggressive, (which should lead to disqualification), or if the judge suspects the dog has been tampered with or operated on to conform to the standard, should be given CANNOT BE JUDGED and excused from the ring, but the critique must clearly state why this dog receives no award. This can also be used for dogs showing lameness on the day or dogs who are obese.

For the complete wording of the definitions, check FCI's web site http://www.fci.be

In Scandinavian countries we do not use the terms given above, but award 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes, which roughly conform with Very Good, Good, and Sufficient, and then all those with a 1st come back in to be placed and the judge decides how many are of such quality that they could be awarded a «Certificate Quality». A 1st with Certificate Quality equals Excellent in other countries. This just to confuse overseas¹ judges, but don't worry, the ring steward will know the ropes.


The second worry seems to be having to write critiques. You will have a secretary in the ring, writing as you dictate. The secretary should write exactly what you say. This means that the show committee has to find someone that can write fluently in the language used in the critiques and not one who translates directly as he/she writes. It is wise to check the text, at least in the beginning, and also to bring a list of the words you will use most often, so that you don't have to stop and spell them out. This helps you keep the necessary speed.

What also helps, is to stick to a pattern. Thus you make sure that you have covered all aspects and that all dogs get equal attention. We recommend you build up your critique like this:

You start with size, colour and sex plus your overall impression,- « Brindle male, up to size, of Excellent type/Very good type/Good type/Sufficient type».

Normally, excellent type would indicate a grading of Excellent, but then later on in your critique you may describe faults that must detract from the grading, even though the type still is excellent. So one must not necessarily follow the other, but often does.

Then, for instance, you start in one end, with the head and all the features you find necessary to comment on, continuing with neck, front construction, chest and ribcage, topline, tail set and carriage, hind construction, movement from all sides, coat and temperament. Below follow two examples. Both critiques are based on actual dogs.

«Brindle male of excellent size, substance and type. Masculine head with well placed, nicely rounded ears of correct size, dark eyes, correct stop. Correct bite. Would like a stronger lower jaw. Excellent length of neck coming from well laid back shoulders, with excellent forechest, front angulation and length of upper arm. Very good bone going down into correctly rounded feet. Well sprung ribs, but rib cage could be somewhat longer and loin somewhat shorter. Still, a strong and level topline ending in a well set tail carried correctly both standing and moving. Moves with excellent reach and drive, correct coming, could be more parallel going. Dense, short coat. Excellent temperament.»

Now, what grading should he have, do you think, from reading this critique? Will the owner recognize his/her dog with both faults and virtues?

Here is another one, the other end of the scale:

«Small, but masculine sable dog of sufficient type. Very good head with correct proportions, dark eyes, but expression is disturbed by small and high set ears. Correct bite. Would like better lay-back of shoulder and better angulation in the front, giving him a forechest. Good bone and feet, but appears leggy and has too much wrap-around. Short, cobby body in excellent condition, well muscled. Topline very good, but too much tuck-up due to too short ribcage. Tail set quite high. Would like better angulation in the rear. Short and stilted movements. Excellent, dense, short coat. A happy, extrovert dog that will bring his owner much joy.»

Can you also picture this sable male? And if so, what grading does he merit?

Remember to use adjectives of correct value to describe the different parts of the dog;- an excellent lay back of shoulder and front angulation is better than a very good, and very much better than a good. It is too easy to slip into listing the different body parts, adding just nice or good, giving a bland critique that doesn¹t really say very much to the reader. Also, remember that in the FCI countries, exhibitors are used to having the faults mentioned, not only the virtues. Also, here, it is possible to consider how to say it;- «would like a better turn of stifle» sounds less harsh than «lacking in hind angulation», although in some cases there is no way of wrapping things up nicely, for instance «would like to see better reach and drive» implies that the dog has the construction to do so, but not the inclination. If that is not so, one simply has to say that the movements are short and stilted. The important thing is; when the owner reads the critique, he or she should be able to understand the grading.

Another important thing to remember, both when writing critiques and grading the dogs;- is not to get too hung up in details, in spite of the critiquing system, but to see the whole dog. AND to look for virtues where they are to be found, and to ignore minor imperfections. «To their virtues ever kind, to their faults a little blind». If every little fault should lead to subtraction from the grades, some dogs, like the poor little sable male above, could end up in minus! AND we could end up with winners who perhaps had few faults, but also few outstanding virtues. Personally, if a dog gives me goose bumps and closer inspection reveals a fault, I turn a blind eye and risk getting a reputation for one who «doesn't see» things.

Anne Indergaard, Annwn Welsh Corgis, Trondheim, Norway


return to Judging Articles           return to Main Menu