Judging Westminster | 8 Questions

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Photo courtesy www.petsadviser.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Walter Sommerfelt is a Westminster dog judge.

"This is a four month old puppy, and we start training them when they're young so they'll learn how to stand still," he's telling me.

The ultimate goal is to show the puppy at the Westminster dog show.

By day, Sommerfelt sells insurance in Lenior City, but in Madison Square Garden, Walter Sommerfelt turns into a world champion judge. He's been a judge for almost 30 years.

WILLIAMS: What makes a good dog judge?

SOMMERFELT: "A judge is not judging one dog against another; he's judging against the written standard for that breed, and I guess the easiest way to understand it is a standard, it's like a blueprint."

Sommerfelt has two Hungarian Vezlas - they've been trained since puppies.

WILLIAMS: You're involved in the herding competition, what does that mean?

SOMMERFELT: In the herding, the one we judged at Westminster, there's 26 different breeds and varieties. In the case of the Corgi, there's the Carrigan Corgi, the one with the tail and the one without the tail.

Sommerfelt's referring to this year's Corgi champion, which he calls the best in the history of the breed. He demonstrates how he would judge a dog like the Corgi on his own Vezlas.

SOMMERFELT: They look at things like, from here to here as being the framework, so when a judge comes in, he's going to look at the teeth, to look at the bite to make sure she has the proper bite - it calls for a scissors bite, like we have.

WILLIAMS: So who typically shows at Westminster?

SOMMERFELT: We have every social, economic background ... religious - if we have it in society, we have it at the dog show.


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