All About Dog Shows

 By Katie Maus

 Katie's Mom showing Jack

Katie's Mom showing Jack

As you approach the arena you’ll hear barking and blow dryers. Inside is a hectic environment full of ex-cited people and their dogs hoping to prove they are the best.

There are many reasons someone might want to attend a dog show. Perhaps you are interested in buying a dog and want to check out the different breed options. You can talk to breeders about which dogs are better for kids or how much attention a particular breed might need, among many other important questions. Maybe you want to look into entering your dog in a show. What do you need to do? Will your dog do well in a show? Whatever your reason for going, you’ll want to know a bit about dog shows first.

Why do people show dogs anyway? The purpose of a dog show is to evaluate different dogs in order to determine which one best meets its breed’s standards. The dogs are awarded points when they win against others, the amount of points varying depending upon the particular show and number of participants. The dogs that earn 15 points (become “championed”) go on to have puppies, continuing the breed on as it is meant to be. Simple enough? Dalmatians have spots and poodles have curls, right? That’s not even half of it. Dogs have to meet the height, weight, color, fur-type, and bodily structure required of their breed and that’s just what you see at first glance. It is also important for the competitors to behave properly and move in a way that suits their breed. All of these different aspects judged together show that a particular dog has the best traits and genes to produce more strong, healthy members of its breed.

So now that we understand why people show dogs and why others go to dog shows, we need to look at proper protocol for audience members. Dogs are excitable and easily distracted, while owners and handlers can be on edge when preparing for com-petition. How should one act at a dog show? What’s okay and what isn’t? Here are a few things to keep in mind when spending a day exploring the rings.

  • Don’t pet the dogs unless you ask first. The dog may have just been groomed and they need to look their best before they go in front of the judges. 
  • Be quiet and courteous so you don’t distract the dogs or the handlers trying to concentrate. 
  • Wear the right shoes so you’re comfortable; there’ll be lots of standing.
  • Be careful where you step so you don’t step in anything questionable, or on anyone’s tail! 
  • If you bring kids, keep an extra close watch on them.

It’s important to make sure you don’t disturb the participants of the show, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions. If you’re considering showing dogs or purchasing them, it is important for both you and your pets that you know all you can to make everybody happy. Ask the groomers for tips and pay attention to how the handlers prep and show their dogs.

You can learn a lot by watching, but it’s helpful to know the basics first.

  • There are seven different groups: Sporting, Toy, Terrier, Hound, Working, Non-sporting, and Herding.
  • Within those groups the classes are separated into dogs and bitches first, then: Puppies, Novice, Bred by Exhibitor, American Bred, and Open.
  • The winners of those classes compete against each other to determine “Best of Winners” and “Best of Opposite Sex.”
  • The “Best of Winners” and “Best of Opposite Sex” then compete with the Champions for “Best of Breed.”
  • All of the “Best of Breeds” then compete within their group for “Best of Group.”
  • Finally, the seven different “Best of Groups” compete to determine “Best in Show.”

Now that you have an idea of what you’ll be seeing, when you go to a show you’ll be able to focus on the dogs and talking to their owners and breeders. Attending a dog show is a great way to learn about which breed might make a good addition to your family, whether you show or just want to keep your dog as a pet. If you’re interested in learning more, there are several All-breed shows at the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz at the end of June. The Wallkill Kennel Club is presenting a show on the 23rd, The Shawangunk Kennel Club is hosting on Friday the 24th, and the Mid-Hudson Kennel Association will follow on Saturday and Sunday the 25th and 26th. Stop in and see something new and exciting!

All information from the American Kennel Club’s “A Beginner’s Guide to Dog Shows” pamphlet with additional insight from Linda Maus, Owner/Handler (pictured above with Deep End’s Jacks R Wild, JHCGC)