Established in 2006 as Top 20. The first Top 20 Competition was held at the GSMDCA National Specialty at Purina Farms, MO.

Click here to see the impressive list of Top 20 winners!



Qualified entrants are the AKC reported and ranked GSMD dogs and bitches 1 through 20 based on total GSMD breed points from January 1 through December 31 of the calendar year immediately preceding the National Specialty where the Top 20 event will be held.  Each qualified dog or bitch is eligible to enter the Top 20 competition at the subsequent NS, as long as all owners of the qualifying dog or bitch are in good standing with the GSMDCA, whether a member or not, at the time entries close – approximately 8 weeks prior to the Top 20 event. All owners, including non-members, must remain in good standing through the time of the event in order to compete in the Top 20 event.

Invitations will be sent by the Top 20 Committee to the primary owner of the qualifying dogs and bitches approximately 3 months prior to the event, but, not before the statistics are published by the AKC.

Top 20 Committee:

The Top 20 Committee will be appointed by the NS Committee Chair. No owner of a qualified dog or bitch may serve on the Top 20 Committee. Committee should be 3-5 people, if possible.

The committee is responsible for verifying qualified entrants, issuing invitations, collecting information and creating the event program, securing the replica Winners trophy, purchasing the People’s Choice trophy, assuring the ribbons are ordered with all required information through the NS ribbon point person, organizing and running the event, and managing expenses within approved budget.

The NS Committee will be responsible for selecting and securing the site for the Top 20 competition and coordinating with the site for set up, bar and food.


Per “National Specialty Judges Selection Criteria” document: “… Top 20 judges are exempt [from regular conformation judge selection process of NS] and are selected (and kept secret) by the Top 20 committee.”

Judging is to be done by three judges selected by the Top 20 committee (or others as designated by the NS Committee Chair). The identity of the judging panel will be kept confidential until the event.

The three judges are picked as follows:

  1. Breeder: An established Greater Swiss Mountain Dog breeder who has been breeding at least 10 years and has produced at least 10 champions.
  2. AKC Multi-breed judge: Approved to judge Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs and preferably at least one full group, preferably the Working Group.
  3. Handler: A professional handler (past or present) who has experience showing Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs and meets the requirements for membership (though not necessarily a member) in a professional handlers association.

Individuals who are the Breeders of a qualifier, owner/co-owner of a qualifier at any time previous to the event, owner/co-owner of the sire/dam of a qualifier, or the handler for a Top 20 qualifier and their spouse during the qualifying and the event year are not eligible to judge and should not be given consideration. The AKC rules regarding ethics should be used as a guide to minimize impropriety.

Trophies and Ribbons


Each entrant receives a qualifier ribbon. Ribbons are, for example, 28+”, 5 streamer black and white rosettes with National Specialty logo on the button.  Center streamer is printed with Event name, GSMDCA name, date and location; full registered name is printed on streamer to right of center; TOP 20 Qualifier is printed on streamer to left of center. This is meant as an example and directionally the preference of the Club.

Top 20 Winner:

From “Standing Rules of the Board of Directors”:

Section I. Awards Paragraph 1. “… Winners shall have custody until requested to engrave the names of the winning dog and owner thereon, clean and ship item to the Specialty Chair prior to the next specialty as requested by the National Specialty Trophy Chair. The cost of engraving and ground shipping perpetual trophies will be reimbursed by the GSMDCA. Winners are to replace any challenge trophies lost, damaged or destroyed while in their possession. If the winner(s) do not wish to assume responsibility for the challenge trophy, they may request that the GSMDCA engrave and forward said trophy to the subsequent year’s National Specialty Chair.”

Section I. Awards Paragraph 1c. Top Twenty Traveling Trophy—a large loving cup on a solid walnut handmade base engraved with a GSMD head–known as the Diane Engelking Memorial Trophy, at National Specialties where the event is offered.  The trophy kept in the possession of the winner until it is awarded at a subsequent Top Twenty Twenty event. At the time of the subsequent events, a smaller version of the trophy will be provided to the former winner for permanent possession.  The creation of the trophy is not intended to require a Top Twenty Event at any given National Specialty. Initiated in 2007 at the Purina Farms, Missouri National Specialty. (Established February 2007).”

Ribbon for the Top 20 winner is, for example, a 28+” 5 streamer, red, white and blue ribbon. Center ribbon imprinted with Top 20 Winner, GSMDCA National Specialty, Date, Location.

People’s Choice Award:

People’s Choice Award is an optional component of the Top 20 Event.  Organizers need to do their best to assure fairness and confidentiality in voting.  Attendees at the Event vote by secret ballot during and immediately following the judging of the entrants for their top choice entrant.  Each person present may vote once for their choice. Ballots are collected and put in a sealed envelope. People responsible for tallying results will count ballots and report People’s Choice winner along with Top 20 Winner at the Awards Banquet.  No one else will be told the results prior to the announcement at the Banquet.

People’s Choice winner will receive a trophy, chosen by the Top 20 Committee. Historical choices have included engraved silver frame, vase.  Ribbon is, for example, a 28+” 5 streamer, burgundy and white rosette with GSMDCA logo button, People’s Choice Award, GSMDCA Top 20 Event, location and date on center ribbon.


All judging sheets and ballots will be destroyed after tabulations are complete. No judging sheets will be shared with anyone, including the entrants.

Entry requirements:

Fees to enter Top 20 are suggested to be $115 for GSMDCA members and $165 for GSMDCA non-members (the fees may be revised, but, non-member fees should be $50 more than member fees). At least one owner of qualifying dog must be a full member of the GSMDCA for the year in which qualification was earned, as well as at the time entries close, in order to be eligible for the member fee.

Entry fee entitles entrant to 2-page ad in Event Program created by the Top 20 Committee to include pedigree, picture, bio and health clearances (if desired), one copy of the Event Program, Qualifier ribbon and participation in the Top 20 Competition at the National Specialty.

Entry requires completed entry form and

    • Full payment of fee
    • List of titles with backup documentation for any titles listed (in order to be included in dog’s name in program)
    • A 3 to 5-Generation Pedigree – electronic version preferred
    • An 8” x 10” SHOW Photograph of your dog, preferably an email copy of a HIGH quality scan (300DPI required)
    • 200 word (or less) bio of the entrant
  • List of current health clearances (optional if you want them listed in the program)

Deadline to enter (all materials and fee received) is determined by the Top 20 Committee and approximately 6 weeks prior to the start of the NS to allow time to create and print the event program.

Top 20 Event Guidelines/Suggestions:


The Top 20 Event should be held the evening prior to the Best of Breed competition to make it most convenient for entrants, owners and handlers. Start time 7:30 (entrants to arrive no later than 7:00pm).

Note: there is no charge for “spectators” to attend the Top 20 event

Set up:

Show ring – size large enough to accommodate 3 judging stations; down and back and reasonable room for go around. (30’ x 30’ at minimum)

Ring gating and matting if possible – but, if event is held at a hotel, not practical

Three judging “stations” positioned around ring. Mat at station to avoid slipping when dog is stacked. Small table for each judge with pitcher of water and glass.

Entrance for dogs into the ring clear of any obstacles or spectators.

Bar open prior to start of judging. Light hors d’oeuvres served buffet style prior to judging.

Table at entrance for spectators – hand out pre-purchased programs; sell programs

If practical, reserved ring-side seating can be pre-sold.

Decorations – typically floral arrangement on food tables, bar, and judges’ tables (more may be necessary depending on the venue)


Top 20 Event is paid for to the extent possible from the entry fees, sponsorships of People’s Choice and Top 20 trophies, donations (if made) and program sales.  Expenses for the event will include: judges fees and travel expenses if any; food; site/location fees if any; decorations; ribbons; People’s Choice and replica Top 20 trophies; cost of engraving and shipping Top 20 trophy; armbands; programs (~$15/program if done in color and bound (spiral or other)


Handlers are typically in black tie or cocktail attire.  Announcer, judges and ring stewards should be in suit/tie or cocktail attire for women.

Judging Form – see attached


Bound, preferably color program is created and pre-sold for the Top 20 event. (template should be available from prior year’s committee) Some additional programs should be available for sale on the evening of the event.

Included in program:

    • History and description of the Event
    • Sequence of Events
    • Sample Judging Form
    • Judges’ Picture and Biography
    • Page listing all top 20 qualifiers – highlighting those entered in the Top 20 Event
  • 2 page spread for each entrant including 3-5 generation pedigree, health clearances (optional), show picture and bio.

Sequence of events:

    1. Armband numbers drawn by handlers prior to start of event.
    1. All dogs enter the ring in armband order, go around the ring once – stop on the second time around – applause – then leave the ring.
    1. Judges will be escorted into the ring and introduced to the audience by the announcer
    1. Three dogs at a time come in armband order and set up at their designated station, one dog at each station
    1. Each judge will work at their station and assign “First Impression of Overall Dog” score (scale of 1 – 10)
    1. Judges will then examine dogs, assign points on Judging Form, but DO NOT TALLY
    1. Dogs will then rotate to the next station until all three have been examined by each judge.
    1. All three judges will then gather in one convenient location in which they can observe gait: down and back as well as side gait (one dog at a time)
    1. All three dogs will then exit the ring.  Score sheets will be given to the ring stewards.
    1. Second set of dogs enter.  Process repeats until the entire entry has been examined.
    1. After all score sheets are turned in to the ring steward, all dogs return to the ring for introduction by Announcer in Top 20 RANKED order, parade, and group exit
    1. All judging sheets and People’s Choice ballots will be collected and sealed in envelopes immediately following “parade”. Both are to be handed to the official tabulators.
  1. Photos will be taken immediately after judging. Winner to be announced at Awards Banquet. YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO HAVE YOUR PHOTO TAKEN IN CASE YOUR DOG WINS PEOPLE’S CHOICE OR TOP 20

**Judges and/or Top Twenty-Five Chair may modify this sequence at their discretion to ensure safety of all participants depending on variables of ring size, etc.

Equipment required:

    • Ring gating
    • 3 rugs/mats for judging
    • Courtesy table (small) for each judge with water/glass
    • Sound system with microphone and podium for Announcer
    • Ribbon and trophy table
    • 3 clipboards with pens – one for each judge with pre-labeled judging sheet (armband number on label only!) for each entrant.
    • Sealable manila envelope for each judge. Judging sheets sealed at the end of judging.
    • Armbands with numbers (based on number of entrants)
  • Ballots for People’s Choice voting

People/help needed at the Event:

    • Announcer
    • Traffic cop to organize and facilitate entrants entering and leaving ring for judging and introductions
    • People’s Choice ballot distribution and collection
    • Program sales
    • Ring Stewards (3 … one for each judge)
  • Results Tabulators (Top 20 and People’s Choice) – 2 people; cannot be an owner of a Top 20 entrant

Updated 12/16/18