Top Dobe’s owner and publisher, Ray Carlisle, had heard about the Top 10 and thought it would be a fantastic venue to hold in conjunction with the DPCA National Convention and Specialty Show. The idea became a reality in the form of the Top 20. Held opening night of the convention, it was (and is) a night of formal wear, whispers, loud applause and excitement!
The first Top 20 Conformation event was held in 1974 during the DPCA’s convention. The contenders are invited based on their statistical rankings. Each of the Top 20 Dobermans attending was brought to the center of the ballroom and approached by the 3 judges and their stewards. The scoring was based on the scale of points which was at one time a part of the written Doberman Standard. Then, in the case of a tie, each dog was scored on a scale of 1-10 – the sum of the parts on which their score would be compiled.
The first events took many hours to complete, and, unintentionally, created chaos for some animals – as being surrounded by 6 people was an unusual circumstance for a ‘show dog.’
The event underwent changes in its staging and today there are 3 judging stations, with 3 dogs in the ring – one at each of the stations – being judged concurrently. The 3 judges stand in one corner of the ring where, one at a time each of the group of three dogs enters and goes to the center of the ring at which time the 1-10 score is applied. To judge movement each dog trots down and back, and around the ring (at least once) to its assigned station. When each of the 3 dogs has moved, the judges return to their station and evaluate each dog in rotation. Then another group of three until all dogs have been evaluated and scored.
Top Dobe sponsored the Conformation event until it was turned over to the DPCA in 1979, having formed the Top 20 Committee as overseer. The committee also went to work on creating a Top 20 event for obedience competitors.
The Top 20 Obedience Competition was first held in 1980, and the Top 20 Agility Competition began in 2000. Currently each event has its own committee, as the core requirements for each are diverse, and a deep understanding of each venue is necessary. All previous winners are invited to attend, and if eligible, can compete.
The winners of all competitions are announced immediately following the event.
Upon the event’s conclusion, the judges books are given to a representative of an independent accounting firm where final scores are tallied and are not publicly available.
All previous Conformation winners are invited to attend the event for ‘exhibition only,’ as they cannot compete even if eligible in the rankings.