Dog shows can give insight into breeds

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 2, 2010

Have you ever watched a dog show and feel completely lost?

Well, you are not alone. Many people have trouble understanding all the terminology used during a televised dog show or other canine event.

The dog world, like any other specialized passion, has its own language and without some insight it can seem foreign.

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During a dog show you will see several dogs led around a ring. Most of the time the person you see with the dog is not the owner; they are called a handler.

A handler may also be called an agent or exhibitor. It is the handler’s job to present a dog in such a way to compliment its features; they are paid to do this.

When it is their turn to be judged, you will see them get the dog’s attention. This is usually done with a small piece of their favorite treat or toy. This is called baiting.

While they are baiting the dog, they are trying to pose the dog in a natural, standing position for the best evaluation. This is called stacking.

There are different types of dog shows. One type is called a bench show.

During a bench show dogs are kept on assigned benches when they are not being shown in the ring so that the folks attending the show can see them, meet the breeders, and learn more about the individual dogs.

Most dog shows you see on television are what are called conformation shows. A conformation show is a dog show where the dogs are judged on how closely they adhere to the breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

A type of conformation show that is limited to a single group, such as the herding group, is called a group show. A specialty show is a type of conformation show in which only dogs of an individual breed or group of breeds, such as terriers, are eligible.

There is also an informal side to dog shows. A match show is just that.

This type of show, many times set up to show puppies (future show dogs), are basically just for fun and to gain experience. Dogs do not earn points toward titles in these shows.

In a normal show, dogs that place win points to earn a title or to become a champion. When a dog has earned enough points to become a champ that dog is considered finished, as in they finished their title.

Knowing how to talk the talk will give you a better appreciation for the time the breeders and handlers have put into their dogs.

The next time you come across a dog show on TV, set back and enjoy. Better yet, visit one in person. A dog show is a great way to see a lot of breeds in one place.

You can learn what they are bred for and what breed is a right fit for your family. The more research you do on a breed that you are interested in, the better.

That way you are sure to get the right pup for your family pack. Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop