John L. Ronald
Judging Approval Dates
Working Group Provisional:
As a judge, what are your personal preferences as they relate to the priority of judging this breed (movement, balance, head, front-end, rear-end, eye color, markings, etc...)
The breed Standard serves as my guide in judging. I appreciate the beginning of the Standard under “Size, Proportion, Substance”, which states “Correct proportion is of primary importance…” Later in that section “Lack of proportion” is listed as one of the breed’s serious faults. There are many important details one must assess when judging this breed. However, I place high emphasis on a balanced (standing and moving) and proportionate Rottweiler.
Some judges look as the Rottweiler as a "head breed", although there is so much more to the animal, what specifically do you look for in a correct head-piece?
The Rottweiler has a long list of disqualifications listed in the Standard. Half of them are listed in the description of the elements of the head. There are several proportions listed in the standard. One concerns the head (“The desired ratio of backskull to muzzle is 3 to 2.”) Obviously, the Standard considers the head an essential component of breed type. If the head is wrong it doesn’t look like a Rottweiler. That said, the Rottweiler is a versatile working dog. This is why the dog exists. As such I go back to balance and proportion as the most important elements to consider when judging the breed. It is far more than just a “head breed”.
If judging two very similar dogs, what is the one characteristic that you'd look at twice to differentiate?
Movement and balance.
Do you consider clear markings a high priority component of judging or more a cosmetic characteristic?
The Standard lists as a Serious Fault, “Straw-colored, excessive, insufficient or sooty markings.” In a number of occasions I have given the top award to a Rottweiler whose markings were not as good as another exhibit because the overall dog was superior. However, in the last 15 years I have seen more exhibits with poor markings than I feel is proper. Color is part of the breed. Breeders should not ignore it in their breeding programs.
As you have judged over the years, what have breeders improved upon? What is still lacking?
In the 1990s I was troubled to see so many Rottweilers with shy or defensive temperaments. The proper Rottweiler temperament is one in which it is clear that the dog owns his space. He is confident and secure, albeit aloof. In the last 10 years I feel the breeders have improved on the temperaments. I am not finding as many insecure, defensive dogs as I once did. Achieving proper balance of proportion and substance is an ongoing challenge in all breeds, Rottweilers included. I believe the breeders should continue breeding to this ideal balance.
How important is the role of the handler in presenting a dog?
It makes no difference to me who the handler is, whether professional or amateur. However, because of the nature of this breed, it is important that the handler be confident and in control of the dog. This doesn’t mean heavy handed. It means that the handler is the boss and the dog knows it. Some of the best Rottweilers I have judged have gaited beautifully on loose leads and self-stacked throughout the competition. There was no question that the handlers were in control, but the dogs were well trained. It is much easier to appreciate a dog’s best features when the dog and the handler are working as a well trained team.
When judging the Best of Breed class, how do you balance judging the dogs vs. the bitches?
Gender makes no difference to me when judging. The Standard not only tells me the required differences between dogs and bitches, it also cautions me to not reward reversal of sex characteristics (bitchy dogs, doggy bitches).
What is your procedure when a tailed Rottweiler joins in the competition in the AKC ring?
The American Standard does not describe anything but a docked tail. It does provide some guidance when it says, “The set of the tail is more important than length.” I’m an American judge, judging by the American Standard in the US. I always check the set on of the tail when judging. I have never had a Rottweiler with a tail compete in my ring in the US. I think this is a controversial area which needs the attention of the Parent Club to provide guidance how to properly judge a Rottweiler with a tail. However, when I’ve been overseas in countries that forbid docking, I have seen Rottweilers with very awkward looking tails. I always check the tail set to make sure it is proper, but a poor tail unbalances the appearance of the dog. Over the years the overseas breeders have been working to make the tails better. The result is that the Rottweilers with decent tails still look like they should, except that instead of the docked tails, their tails are full length. It’s still the same dog, it just has a longer tail.
Any additional comments?
No additional comments.