Becoming a NIPPO Judge

It is a long and painstaking journey to become a NIPPO judge, fraught with danger and sacrifice. Seriously. I get asked all the time by the members of my NIPPO branch to please sacrifice my soul and embark on this thankless road, but no. I don't think so.

Think of NIPPO as something like the NCAA in its dedication to amateurism. NIPPO judges and board members are not allowed to be professional breeders, and you're basically also not allowed to be a member of another breed club. It is also an unwritten rule that once you're a judge or board member, you cannot show your dogs at NIPPO shows. You are paid a pittance to travel to shows, it's basically a pro bono position, and the process requires you to attend many seminars, study work shops etc.

I'm a member of the Japan Kennel Club, the Kai Ken Aigokai, the Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai, and the Nihon Ken Hozonkai (NIPPO). While that in itself is not necessarily a problem, I like to show my dogs, and I intend to do so for as long as I'm able. There are some judges who don't even breed their respective specialty breeds anymore, or own any dogs. Some have not shown dogs for years, or maybe never had much experience breeding, owning, or showing in the first place. I do not intend to be one of those people. Maybe once I've amassed enough knowledge in all areas related to owning-showing-breeding-hunting-standards, I will consider becoming a judge. That is a long way off, and I'm not yet qualified to try on those shoes.

For anyone curious about what it takes to become a NIPPO judge...

One must be a NIPPO member for 3 consecutive years, after which, if your branch of NIPPO thinks you promising, you can become a 'Hojoin' (assistant). This involves helping ringside at regional shows, and attending some training classes. If you are deemed worthy and ripe, you then move on (after a non specified amount of time, but often a few years) to become a 'Kenshuin' (trainee). You will most likely be a Kenshuin for at least 3 years, attending regular work shops, helping at regionals, and taking tests. If you manage to pass the tests each year with acceptable grades, and you get a 70% (I think that was. the number) vote of confidence from the current judges, you move up to 'Fuku-shinsain' (assistant judge). Assistant judges are present to help the judges in the ring with their assessments at the nationals, and to judge at some regionals. After several years in this position, a magical nod from the board and the judges committee will promote you to 'Shinsain' (judge). There is a mandatory retirement age, though I've forgotten what that is (somewhere around 65 if memory serves me).

Once you've reached this portion of your arduous journey, prepare to be slandered, pressured, cajoled, and endure endless amounts of stress while judging other people's dogs, while selflessly giving of your time and energy. My respect to the gentlemen who have taken this path, all the NIPPO members who came before me, and those to come.


  1. Wow that's a lonnng road to become a NIPPO Judge :s
    Think you Shigeru for your explanation :D


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