The terms, “table breed” and “ramp breed” are self apparent terms in the world of dog shows:

A “table breed” – Adobe Stock photo


A “ramp” breed: Kerry Blue Terrier. Photo appears with the kind consent of the photographer, Diane Lee: www.o’maras  Showing the dog is Jinice Reese owner/ handler


Optional “ramp” breed: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. This “Munchie” aka AKC GCH, UKC CH FoxPoint Maetoll Lollipop Guild, TKN RATN BCAT with breeder-owner handler Kelly Schur/owned by Kelly Schur, Daniel Abens, Brenda Belmonte, and Kari Holcomb. Photo by Claire Smith

It is the parent club that designates whether its breed is judged on the ground, on a table, or on a ramp, and in some breeds, the choice is optional.  Mandatory “table breeds” are listed here, but after 3/28/23, Whippets will be judged only on a ramp or the ground, but not on a table.

The optional “ramp breeds” are the American Water Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Lagotto Romagnolo, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen, German Pinscher, Standard Schnauzers, American Staffordshire, Irish Terriers, Miniature Bull Terrier (ground/table) Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Finnish Spitz, Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Finnish Lapphund, Icelandic Sheepdogs, Mudik (or table), Norwegian Buhund, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Spanish Water Dog, and Norrbottenspets.

Some breed clubs have recently chosen to dispense with the table option, as in the Whippet; other breed clubs, namely, the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club, have recently been granted permission by the AKC to mandate that their breed be judged on a ramp at all conformation competition associated with AKC conformation dog shows or at any event at which an AKC conformation title may be earned. Before this ruling, the Kerry was judged on a ramp only if it was an emergency disability issue for a judge. We return to the Kerry Blue Terrier momentarily, but the mandatory ramp examination are for the Clumber Spaniel, Sussex Spaniel, Basset Hound Cirneco Dell ’Etna, Bulldog, Chinese Shar-Pei, Chow Chow, Keeshonden, and again, the Kerry Blue Terrier.

It is understandable to table a breed when it is short or small, and ramp judging makes sense when the breed is short but heavy as in the Basset Hound, but given that the Kerry Blue Terrier is among the largest of AKC terriers, why would USKBTC members elect to mandate that their breed be judged on a ramp?

We can’t speak for that club, but we can offer several reasons by some clubs choose ramp judging:

  • It’s physically easier on the backs of the judge and the exhibitor;
  • At outdoor shows, having the dog elevated off the grass enables the judge to see the entire dog;
  • Walking a dog up a ramp brings the dog closer to the judge while keeping the judge from towering over the dog. That, in turn, makes most dogs more comfortable not having someone looming over the top of them during the exam;

To read more on this topic, visit this page from the AKC Judges Operations Department

Image: Credit:Laura Fay/iStockPhoto

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