Explanation of Options and Pros and Cons

The survey will be sent out Wednesday, July 18, 2012.

Please read the explanations and pros and cons below before voting in the survey.

The Miniature American Shepherd (13 to 18 inches) is currently designated as a ramp breed for the purposes of showing in AKC Conformation. The Board will instruct AKC Judging Operations to designate the Miniature American Shepherd according to the wishes of the majority of the membership responding to this survey. The change in designation will be effective essentially immediately (AKC will update their website and notify show superintendents). This is an important decision for our breed, one that has the potential to impact the development of the breed. So, please carefully read the information and explanations below before making your selection. 

  • Table
    • Breeds designated as table breeds are always examined on the table, even in Group and Best in Show.
  • Table Optional
    • Breeds designated as table optional may be examined on the table, at the judge's discretion on the day of the show. If the judge chooses to examine a breed on the table, all entries are examined on the table. Otherwise all entries are examined on the floor.
  • Ramp Optional
    • Breeds designated as ramp breeds may be examined on the ramp, at the judge's discretion on the day of the show. If the judge chooses to examine a breed on the ramp, all entries are examined on the ramp. Even if a judge chooses to use a ramp to examine the entries, the ramp is not used in Group or Best in Show.
  • Ramp Expected
    • Only two breeds are designated this way (bulldog and basset hound), and this designation would require the approval of the AKC Board of Directors. Even though a ramp would be used to examine the dogs in the breed classes, the ramp would NOT be used in Group or Best in Show.
  • Table and Ramp Optional
    • Breeds designated this way may be examined on the table, ramp, or floor, solely at the discretion of the judge on the day of the show.
  • Floor
    • Floor breeds are always examined on the floor.

 Some general rules:

  • Whenever there is a choice (ramp, table optional) it is always at the judge's discretion on the day of the show. You will not know ahead of time how the dogs will be examined.
  • All entries in a breed are always examined the same way (on table, ramp, or floor) once a judge make a decision.
  • It is never the exhibitor's choice.  


Some pros and cons collected at a town hall meeting of the membership:


Table Pros:

  • The exhibitor will know exactly how the dog will be examined in the ring.  This decision will not be up to the judge; they will be required to examine the dog on the table.  This gives continuity and the ability to train your dog for one thing and know that is how it will be every time you enter the ring. 
  • Table breeds are also examined on the table in both Group and Best in Show.
  • In the long run our breed will tend towards the middle of the size range specified in the Breed Standard, and it makes sense to present a 15 inch bitch or a 16 inch dog on the table. 
  • Dogs are accustomed to being on a table because they are groomed on one, so they may feel more comfortable being examined there.
  • It is easier for a tall person to stack their dog on a table.
  • A judge may do a more thorough examination of your dog because the dog will be at a height that will be more comfortable for the judge.
  • Smaller and larger dogs are more equitably assessed on a table. This is important for eliminating size as a factor in choosing a winner. The dogs selected to win direct the future development of the breed.
  • Presenting on the table will distinguish our dogs from the Australian Shepherd in the Group ring, and eliminate the perception of a lack of substance simply because of the smaller size.

Table Cons:

  • It will be hard for a junior or someone with a back/neck injury to put their dog on the table and take them off. However, the exhibitor may request permission from the judge for outside assistance in placing the dog on/off the table. 
  •  It is more difficult for a short person to stack their dog on the table.  A shorter person can't always reach over a large dog to place their feet.
  •  If the exhibitor does not know how to properly stack their dog, this will be more apparent on the table.
  •  If the exhibitor allows the dog to jump off the table, this could cause injury to the dog depending on the dog and the floor/ground they are jumping on to.
  • The table may be unstable on uneven ground making the dog nervous.  However, as an exhibitor you have the right to test the table and ask that it be stabilized if necessary.
  • If we want our breed to be seen as an Aussie in a smaller package, we should be examined in a like manner.

Ramp Pros:

  • The exhibitors that have used a ramp recently in shows really liked them.
  • They are closer  to the ground than a table, and the dog walks up the ramp.
  • Dogs may be lifted on and off the ramp. They do not have to walk up or down the ramp.
  • The ramp is sturdy and will not wobble like the table might. 
  • You can stand beside the dog to position or kneel. You can use the ramp to help anchor yourself if needed.
  • The ramp addresses the concern in size and stability and lifting requirements of the table.
  • The ramp also allows the judge to look at the smaller dogs with a level playing field.

Ramp Cons:

  • The ramp is designated as optional at this time which means that the judge decides whether it will be used or not.  You will not know ahead of time whether the ramp will be used and in order for it to be used it must be listed in the premium. 
  • The ramp is seldom used because it is somewhat of a hassle for judges. It has to be requested in advance, and it takes two people to move one.
  • The use of the ramp is solely at the discretion of the judge, when not used the dog is examined on the floor.
  • The ramp is not used in Group or Best in Show, even if it is used in the breed classes.
  • If we want our breed to be seen as an Aussie in a smaller package, we should be examined in a like manner.

Floor Pros:

  • The exhibitor will always know how their dog will be examined, it won't be up to the judge.  You can train your dog for the floor and know that is how it will be examined each time.
  • No lifting of the dog up onto a table, or lifting onto or walking up a ramp.
  • Easier to stack because you can see over top of the dog and know their legs are under them properly.

Floor Cons:

  • May be hard for elderly or people with knee problems to get up if they kneel down.
  • Smaller dogs will have their heads tilted back over their shoulders for the judge to examine the bite,
  • Smaller dogs may feel intimidated by the judge leaning over them to examine them. Judges are not allowed to kneel.

Ramp Pictures & Specifications




If your club uses a licensed superintendent for its events, appropriate ramps are included with their standard equipment.  To assist those clubs that do not use the services of a licensed superintendent, the AKC has established general guidelines for construction of a judging ramp.  Construction:  Any stable material may be used including the use of folding legs.



Length...............4 feet

Width................2 feet

Height...............15-24 inches






Table Pictures








For comparison purposes, here are the designations of the other breeds in the Herding Group, and their sizes.


Table Breeds:


Cardigan Welsh Corgi

10.5 to 12.5 inches


Pembroke Welsh Corgi

10 to 12 inches



16 to 17 inches


Pyrenean Shepherd

15 to 21 inches


Shetland Sheepdog

13 to 16 inches


Swedish Vallhund

11 to 13 inches


Ramp Breeds:


Polish Lowland Sheepdog

17 to 20 inches



Floor Breeds:


Australian Cattle Dog

17 to 20 inches


Australian Shepherd

18 to 23 inches


Bearded Collie

20 to 22 inches



24 to 27 inches


Belgian Malinois

22 to 26 inches


Belgian Sheepdog

22 to 26 inches


Belgian Tervuren

22 to 26 inches


Border Collie

18 to 22 inches


Bouvier des Flandres

23 to 27 inches



22 to 27 inches



19 to 24 inches



22 to 26 inches



16 to 21 inches


Finnish Lapphund

16 to 21 inches


German Shepherd Dog

22 to 26 inches


Icelandic Sheepdog

Males - 18" tall at the shoulder; Females - 16"


Norwegian Buhund

16 to 18 inches


Old English Sheepdog

21 inches tall and upward


Questions from Town Hall Meeting, and Answers from AKC

Q: How soon will a change take effect if the membership votes to change the ramp designation and the club requests the change to another method?

A: Once notification is received of the change per the request of the Parent Club, we would immediately update the Table/ramp list on the AKC website.  The superintendents would be notified of the change and it would be included in the next issue of the Judge's newsletter, The Standard.

Q: Is a ring steward allowed/required to help place your dog on or off the table if you are unable to?

A: No, if an exhibitor is unable to lift a dog on/off a table, they may request to the judge permission for assistance from an individual.  Judges and ring stewards are not permitted to assist.

Q: Is the 30" table the standard table for shows?  Are shows allowed to use tables of different heights?

A: Professional superintendents do utilize the standard 30" height tables.  The height of the table is not predicated by AKC rule or policy that requires the table to of that height.  Due to liability issues, I would anticipate that superintendents would not permit the use of equipment not owned by them at events in which they are responsible.

Q: Can we ask that the ramp be designated as required?  This would insure that the ramp would always be used in the breed ring.  However, the ramp still would not be used in group or Best in Show.

A: It can be requested, but that request would have to be presented to the AKC Board of Directors for their review.  The ramp by definition is an "option" to either the floor or table exam depending on the privy of the Parent Club.  The utilization of the ramp as "required for exam" would necessitate approval by the Board.


Patricia Davis
Acting Secretary