If you are like me, you probably are fascinated by all the dog breeds when dog shows come on television. I especially like the Westminster and National Dog Shows and try to watch every year. Did you ever wonder why you don’t see a labradoodle or an Alaskan Husky in the show ring? Today we are going to discuss why mixed breeds cannot compete in conformation shows. Just this week one of our clients asked about how her dog can compete in dog sports. Stay tuned until the end and I will let you know how mixed-breed dogs can compete in dog sports, too.
Hello and welcome to Dog Works Radio. I am your host, Michele Forto, and I am also the lead trainer of Alaska Dog Works. Here we help you have a better relationship with your K9 Buddy. Did you know years ago, before I met my husband and business partner Robert, he competed in dog shows, or conformation shows as they are known as in the dog world, with his Siberian Husky sled dogs? He was literally chased out of the ring by little old ladies who thought his gruffy Siberians weren’t up to the breed standard. Little did they know that his dogs conformed to more of the original standard than their poofy, little dogs. Nether the less, he won a title or two and got out quick and ended up working in competition obedience, which is a whole other story for another time. But today we are talking about why mixed breeds can’t compete in dog shows today.
While watching a dog show on television or in person, many casual viewers find themselves completely mystified about aspects of the sport. But here are answers to four basic questions to give you a better understanding of dog shows.
Who Attends Dog Shows?
Most dog handlers you’ll see in the TV portion of the show are professionals. They’ve spent the year showing a “string” of dogs on behalf of the dogs’ owners. Among a pro handler’s responsibilities are the grooming, conditioning, transportation, and diet of their charges, often with the help of assistants. But some handlers you’ll see on TV are the dog’s owner and breeder. They’re technically “amateurs,” but there’s nothing amateurish about their expertise.
The dog show judges come from the ranks of breeders, amateur breeder-handlers, pro handlers, and dog club members. Many have played all these roles. Judges are AKC-approved and licensed, and the club that is sponsoring the dog show selects the judges.
How Do Dogs Get into the Dog Show?
Much has already been decided by the time you settle in with your popcorn and beverage of choice. During the day at the show, dogs compete for awards within their respective breeds. The coveted Best of Breed award entitles a dog to move on to the “group showing” you see on TV. Here, an overall winner in each of the AKC’s seven breed groups is determined. By the time your feet hit the ottoman, a vast entry has been winnowed down to just one dog of each breed.
How Are Different Breeds Judged?
The judge doesn’t compare dogs of different breeds to each other. The judge compares each dog to the breed standard of its particular breed. The breed standard is a written guide that emphasizes what features make the breed unique and what qualities it must possess to do the job it was created for, including physical characteristics and temperament. The AKC “parent club,” the national organization devoted to the breed, writes the standard and the AKC approves it. The standard is both the breeder’s “blueprint,” and the instrument by which a judge uses to evaluate a breeder’s work.
Each dog is judged by how well it conforms to its breed standard. Biggie the Pug won the Toy Group at the AKC National Championship in 2018.
Why Can’t Mixed Breeds Compete in Dog Shows?
Showing dogs serves a purpose: the maintenance and improvement of the breeds. Beneath the glamour, competition, and showmanship, a dog show is essentially an exhibition of breeding stock. It’s a place where breeders gather to exhibit their stock and have it judged by an expert. As such, it would be pointless to hold conformation dog shows featuring mixed breeds, purebreds without pedigrees, and purebreds incapable of reproducing.
However, mixed breed dogs are welcome to enroll as canine partners and compete in sports other than conformation, including Agility, Fast CAT, and more!
So what do you guys think? Is it fair that your Goldendoodle can’t compete against his peers in a dog show? Or, do you have an experience like Robert did in the show ring? Let us know in the comments or on our social channels, just search, dog works radio.
Oh, and one last thing, did you know the single best thing you can do is tell you family and friends how to listen? Who knows they just might become a rabid listener just like you.