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The truth about the breed

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Dog Show Spectator Information


© 2014

No portion of this article may be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder. Reprinted with permission from .

What's a show

Dog shows are exhibitions of purebred dogs that compare their looks and physical structure to an ideal or "standard" in each breed.

Dogs shows are beauty contests and many of these dogs have been groomed for hours in preparation for a few minutes in the ring. If you were watching the "Miss America" pageant you wouldn't reach out and muss the hairdo of a contestant just before she walked on stage. Please.

Before you touch any dog always ask permission from the person in charge of the dog. Show dogs are supposed to have good dispositions but they can get nervous just like any of us. If you or your child reach out to pat a strange dog that doesn't see you coming you may startle the dog, it may think another dog is too close and snap.

Have you ever given a speech or performance and had butterflies in your stomach? This is how some exhibitors feel before they go in the ring. If you want to ask them questions about their dogs or their breed, wait till they come out of the ring. It's OK to ask, 'May I talk to you after judging?' or 'May I have your card and call you later?' but then please wait. Most exhibitors want to concentrate on what is going on in the ring.

Here are some useful tips that will endear you to the exhibitors of the dogs you admire:

  • Don't touch a dog without asking permission
  • Don't ever feed a dog without permission
  • Be careful if you smoke, you can burn a dog with your cigarette, especially if you drop it
  • Don't eat or drink where you could drop anything on one of the show dogs
  • Move away from the ring entrance to watch so you don't block exhibitors from entering and leaving
  • Watch your children: don't let them run up to or try to touch strange dogs
  • If your child has permission to pet a dog be sure his or her hands are clean
  • Watch your stroller wheels so they don't run over a dog
  • Leave your family pet at home. Dog show rules prohibit unentered dogs and you could be asked to leave
  • When in doubt about anything, ASK!

If you have questions about what is going on in the ring, someone seated at ringside will probably have time to talk to you, just remember that they may want to watch the dogs, so be patient.

What's all this stuff?

You'll see dogs waiting in cages or "crates" before they go in the ring. Like a stroller or child seat these keep dogs safe, secure and comfortable at the show and in the car. Dogs not only like their "caves" they will defend them so never stick your fingers inside, and NEVER open the door of a dog's crate or pen.

Some dogs will be on "grooming tables" while they are being brushed or just waiting to go into the ring. Please remember that these are not picnic tables and never set anything on top of someone's crates or tables.

Some shows will set up their rings with ropes strung through posts, others will use "baby gates" to define the ring. Please don't let your children play on ring ropes or gates or poke food or toys through them.

Also, don't put your feet up on them or hang your coat on them.

Some insiders tips

Want to learn more and sound like you know what's going on? Visit our superintendent's table and pick up information. You can learn how dog shows progress from Puppy classes to Best In Show, read about obedience trials, get dates of future shows and a lot more.

Be sure not to miss the obedience rings where you can see dogs of all breeds trained to be useful and valuable companions. It is very important not to distract or interfere with these dogs while they are working.

Visit the book stalls where you can buy books on most breeds, your favorite childhood dog stories and the latest dog show mysteries. Visit the vendor's booths where you can find your favorite breed on jewellery or notepaper, or buy a leash, collar or pet shampoo.

We want you to have a good time and learn something about this sport as well.

Can I bring my dog to the dog show?

by Lisa Frankland

Most, if not all shows request that people not bring unentered dogs to shows. The AKC rules specifically prohibit bringing "dogs that are not eligible for entry." I think they word it this way because it is not always easy to discern which dogs are entered, but it is usually very obvious which dogs cannot possibly be entered (young puppies and certain breeds/mixed breeds that cannot be shown). The prohibition against young puppies is there for two reasons--most importantly, for safety (to keep the overall numbers down and because puppies are especially vunerable to diseases and attacks from other dogs), and also to make it harder for people to sell puppies at a dog show, which is not allowed under AKC rules.

There are situations where people have little choice but to bring their unentered dogs to a show, especially when they are travelling and can't leave the dogs unsupervised in the hotel room or car. Many owners make arrangements with their dogs' breeders or others to meet at a show for grooming or other assistance. I personally don't have a problem with this, and know of few other people who might object under those circumstances. Exhibitors and show officials tend to look the other way unless there are problems. However, the fact remains that it is against the rules and that you risk being turned away at the entrance or asked to leave at any point during the show if it is clear that your dog is not entered. And, although this may sound counterintuitive, it tends to be a lot easier to observe and enjoy a dog show without a dog. Bottom line: Leave your dog at home if at all possible!

Related article: Petiquette at Dog Shows

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