show dogs from a dog breeder

Fun Facts About Show Dogs

You’ve watched the Westminster dog show and wondered what all the hype is about. Or perhaps you want a show dog but don’t know the first thing about finding one. Or maybe you’ve laughed at the movie Best in Show and wanted to know more.

Whatever the case, here are some interesting facts about show dogs:

Best in Show at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Miss P, a 15-inch beagle and William Alexander after winning Best in Show at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2015.

Show dogs have a long history. Dog shows are believed to have originated back in the 1870’s in New York. Sporting gentlemen would gather around and talk about their dogs. Each would tell stories of their dog’s achievements, and then they would argue about whose dog had better qualities. This friendly discourse evolved into the Westminster Kennel Club.

They are more expensive than pet dogs, even if they’re from the same litter. Most puppies in a litter will be pet quality. There isn’t anything genetically wrong with them, they just aren’t show class. They could be too large or too small or have the wrong color nose. Or, they could be the wrong color or have too much of one color in their coat. A show quality puppy is the pick of the litter. These puppies could be entered into competitions, and sell as breeding stock to produce more quality puppies. Usually, in one litter, there are only one or two puppies that are show quality. This is why a show puppy is more expensive as a pet. The breeder charges for money you could make by having the dog win shows or competitions, or if the dog is used for breeding.

They can be tough to find. Many breeders won’t sell a show dog to someone they don’t know. In fact, some people who show dogs wait years for a dog they want from a specifically bred line. If you’re in the market for a show dog, you may have to wait. Especially if you want a certain breed of dog. If the litter only has one of the kind you want and someone else is ahead of you, then you’ll have to wait for the next litter. 

They require a lot of work. You can’t put a dog into a show ring and let it run around. Show dogs require intense training, which takes time for both the owner and the dog. You’ll have to guide your puppy with love, care, and determination. Even if you use a handler instead of doing it yourself, your dog will need to go to conformation classes before they enter a real ring. They’ll learn proper gait and socialization, and become good travelers. Additionally, you’ll need to learn how to groom your show dog.

You may have to co-own with the breeder. This means that even though the breeder sells you a show puppy, it may be under co-ownership, and will be included in a contract. There are several reasons for this: the breeder may want to protect the puppy, they might want to keep the breeding rights, or they want to make sure the puppy isn’t bred irresponsibly.

Show dogs can be any age. The oldest dog to win was a Sussex Spaniel who was over 10 years old. This dog won the Westminster Dog Show in 2009. So even if your dog has a few years on him, he could still win a dog show.

Not all breeds are accepted. Within the Westminster Kennel Club, there are seven different groups a dog can fall under. Within these groupings, breeds have to be approved. Not all breeds are accepted, and approval rating can change from year to year. The groups are:

  • Herding
  • Non-sporting
  • Sporting
  • Hound
  • Toy
  • Terrier
  • Working

Best in Show is the third level of competition. Dogs compete first for Best of Breed. This title is awarded to the dog selected as the best representative of their breed. Best in Breeds of the same group then compete against each other win Best in Group. Each dog to win Best in Group competes to win Best in Show. Read about how the judges evaluate the dogs on the American Kennel Club website.

And there you have it! Some fun and interesting facts about show dogs. Do you have one? If not, would you ever get one? If you do, visit Veterinarians.com to find a vet near you