Many owners of pure-bred dogs are great show enthusiasts and travel considerable distances in the hope of success in the show ring. For the vast majority of participants, however, there are no financial rewards for all their hard work. This is one arena where the amateur still reigns supreme, with people taking part simply because they enjoy the opportunity to show their dogs, meet other people who have similar interests, and share in the excitement as the final winners are chosen. For information on shows, consult the specialist dog press.
For the show dog, a bath is the first stage of preparation for the ring. Place the bath in a draught-free spot, and use warm water and shampoo formulated for dogs. Hold the dog’s head up so that water runs away from its eyes and nose. Thoroughly rinse out the shampoo, towel dry, and, for long-haired breeds, use a hairdryer before brushing.
With a long-haired dog, you may have to go to considerable lengths to keep it clean and tangle-free after it has been bathed in the run-up to its appearance in front of the judges. Here (right), a Yorkshire Terrier has been bathed and had its hair tied up until show time. Its marvellous, flowing, full-length coat is then revealed, with just a single bow remaining.
With some breeds of dog, such as the poodle, the coat must be clipped to conform to the breed standard for show purposes. The traditional show clip for the poodle is either the English Lion Clip or the Continental Lion Clip. Dogs under one year of age may be shown in the “puppy clip”. For non-show dogs, a less stylized, or more easy-going coat shape is the “lamb clip”.
The Big Day
The show ring is the culmination of much hard work by the owners. A good show dog is trained to display itself to best advantage in front of the judge. A calm disposition is essential, for the dog must tolerate close examination and handling by a stranger, and it must ignore the unsettling presence of the other dogs. In turn, a judge needs a thorough knowledge of the official breed standards in order to assess the dog’s demeanour, stance, presence, movement, and temperament.
The breed standard in every country where a breed is recognized usually specifies such things as the height and weight of the dog; the proportions of the body with reference to specific body parts; coloration; and the appearance and texture of the coat, ears, tail, eyes, and feet. Typical faults that count against a dog are also listed at the end of the standard.