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Dog show people? Questions

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  • Dog show people? Questions

    I was reading a new book called Show Dog* which follows a woman who ends up with a promising Aussie, and the pro handlers who show him for her. At one point, several people - pros and amauteurs - say that basically, the pros have taken over, that an owner/handler can finish a dog, but to take him any further basically requires a handler. It's claimed that this changed relatively recently, that prior to the 2000s, you still saw owners campaigning dogs themselves but no more. I was curious if that was true. I was also rather shocked that the dog hero is bred before - waaaay before - he's even finished, but perhaps that's another issue.

    *Cute, but a bit disappointing as far as being good nonfiction - more of a memoir with dogs, like a one-step-removed Marley book. The writer really doesn't question or investigate much of what he's told by the people he follows to shows, and so he ends up just asserting what they say - and some of it is pretty debatable. Still, cute. I'm a sucker for a dog book, especially one with a collie.

  • #2
    I guess it depends on the breed. I campaigned my Cavalier in the Breed ring - I'm still relatively new to showing even now after 5 1/2 years - and managed to do well enough to win (even against top pros!) make the cut in Group now and again and even place. I do not have the money, experience or time to play the ranking game, though. I see several breeder owners campaigning their own Cavaliers to the top, too. That may change, though...but then again, maybe not. There are judges known for looking for a good amateur, and many don't care who's on the north side of the lead - they pick what they like.
    Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom

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    • #3
      Depends on the breed and I will say, it is hard but not impossible to special a dog yourself. The doberman who won the working group was breeder/owner/handled. Its not just politics, but has to do with travel etc. To campaign a special you will be on the road almost every single weekend of the year as well as other weekdays during big circuits. Not many owner/handlers can afford to loose their jobs or families due to dog show commitments. You are also looking at an approximately 3 year commitment..The first year to get the dog known, the second and third to really get rolling and finally wind down towards retirement. This can be extradorinarily expensive with entries, travel, advertisement, hotels etc. So alot of specials dogs are "sponsored" by wealthy individuals who usually go with a well known professional handler. The sponsors want the most bang for their big bucks. To special a dog on a national level cost approximately 40,000 a year if you are using the services of a handler..and not to much off of that for an owner handled dog.

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      • #4
        I agree with the above posts. I think it depends on what you are seeking. If you want your dog to be a top ten dog, you have to be out all the time. Otherwise you really can never realistically compete for those numbers - even winning a best in show or two isn't going to beat a dog that consistently places in the group throughout a year.

        I know a breeder/owner who could easily compete against the pros to campaign a dog but who hired a handler when he last had a really good special to campaign. He spent upwards of $50,000 on handlers -- even though he was *able* show the dog effectively, he also had a wife, kids, and a life outside of dogs....and he even had a job that would enable him to do it. But still, the time commitment is very difficult.

        I think it's possible to effectively "campaign" a lot of breeds for breed and specialty wins, and probably pick up some group placements along the way with a good dog. (I hope because that's my goal - I'm going to try it with my dog...who I finished but is only 2...so he's a bit young right now). But my goals are definitely not top ten in my breed, let alone top ten all breeds.

        If you wanted a top ten all breed dog, or anything near that....you would probably want to hire a great handler. So you'd need lots of money, and of course a great dog!!

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        • #5
          Agreed that it depends upon the breed. I know from experience that breeds that require alot of grooming, for the most part.....go with handlers and live with handlers while they are being campaigned. Either the hander or his/her "people" will groom to perfection and do not want to have to 'fix' owner groomed little errors that can make a huge difference. Plus they want to get to work with the dog to know what it takes to show the dog at his best.

          Many owners want to do it themselves and keep their dog home with them and start out that way......only to find out that if they really want to win at the majors....the way to go is with a handler. A friend of mine has been showing her own dog for about 2 yrs winning an occasional point here and there. She put her with a handler for a 3 day weekend and she had major wins every day and became a champion overnight.

          Of course there are exceptions and many owner/handlers finish their own dogs. There is a novice division now but from what Ive seen, there are very few entries.

          Its very discouraging for average dog owners who want to show their own and have 'fun'. When you are up against pros who do this for a living......they are not there to have fun, they are there to win....its their job.

          If you can find some UKC shows.......pro handlers are not allowed. They are much more layed back and a great place to learn. You have to reg. your dog with the UKC but its easy to do. Google it and you'll find all the info you need.

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          • #6
            The problem I have with UKC is that you can potentially get a championship without competing against another dog of your own breed. That bugs me. (I suppose, given G1 wins, you could do the same in AKC - but that is extraordinarily unlikely.)

            I don't mind going up against the pros. Yeah, we're lousy with well-known top handlers in California, but that said: I get to watch them all the time, and learn. I have a major advantage over handlers in that I work with my dog, and only my dog. I don't have to rush to the next ring with a totally different breed, or decide which client dog to show and which to hand to an assistant.

            Would I attempt to show a popular breed like a Golden without a handler? Probably not. Of course, I say this as an owner/handler of one of the most popular breeds - one that requires 11 dogs for a major, compared to the 18 needed for a major in Goldens...

            Originally posted by LuvMyperch View Post
            Of course there are exceptions and many owner/handlers finish their own dogs. There is a novice division now but from what Ive seen, there are very few entries.
            The Novice class is not new - it is the Amateur Owner-Handler class that is new. I think it needs to develop as a class simply because people are equating amateur = novice. We all know that a good amateur is hard to beat. I have been entering in AOH (with competition) and have all my young bitch's points from that class so far (against pro competition, too.) I enter that class because I am proud to be an owner-handler and it gets me that second look in Winner's class, which I really want. I have a good dog. I want her there, grabbing that judge's attention!

            So, I still think the owner-handler has a place in the ring. Even the Best of Breed ring. Yes, there's a learning curve. Yes, you will do your fair share of losing (you do in horses, too!) Yes, it is frustrating...but worth the work.
            Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom

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            • #7
              My friend bred my miniature poodle. She or another handler friend of her's will be showing him. Why? Because they will get it done a whole lot faster. Same dog, same performance. However, they have the names and I don't. Therefore he'd likely place lower if I'm on the other end of the lead instead of one of them. Sucks, but that's the reality. I have zero desire to drag this out any longer than it has to since taking care of his immense amount of hair is a big pain.

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              • #8
                Emryss.....I was referring to the AKC amatuer/owner class being relatively new..... you are correct, its not just for novices but for non-pros. A good place to be if you just want to be in the ring for experience, but often you will be the only one there so the experience is limited. It would be nice if it would catch on.

                Im curious though.....what is the novice class you referred to?? Ive never noticed it listed.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by candysgirl View Post
                  My friend bred my miniature poodle. She or another handler friend of her's will be showing him. Why? Because they will get it done a whole lot faster. Same dog, same performance. However, they have the names and I don't. Therefore he'd likely place lower if I'm on the other end of the lead instead of one of them. Sucks, but that's the reality. I have zero desire to drag this out any longer than it has to since taking care of his immense amount of hair is a big pain.
                  It is not just the name handler, they really are that much better at preparing and presenting a dog than anyone else, to be fair to the judges that have to pin the dogs.

                  When the dogs are all very good, that extra a professional brings to the dog just makes the difference, sorry.

                  It takes a professionally educated eye to know those small differences.
                  That is why the talk ringside by most watching when the dog they like doesn't get pinned, blame the judging and that the professional's name influence, when if they were really honestly looking hard at the situation, the bias is not on the judge's part, but the ringside watchers.

                  I have been around plenty of judges and they, while resigned to it, tend to resent being called biased, when that could not be further from how they judge.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LuvMyperch View Post
                    Emryss.....I was referring to the AKC amatuer/owner class being relatively new..... you are correct, its not just for novices but for non-pros. A good place to be if you just want to be in the ring for experience, but often you will be the only one there so the experience is limited. It would be nice if it would catch on.

                    Im curious though.....what is the novice class you referred to?? Ive never noticed it listed.
                    From the AKC website:
                    Novice - For dogs six months of age and over, which have not, prior to the date of closing of entries, won three first prizes in the Novice Class, a first prize in Bred-by-Exhibitor, American-bred, or Open Classes, nor one or more points toward their championship (optional class).

                    Novice isn't offered at every show, but it is different from the AOH class. I do get some competition in AOH - about the same as if it were the Bred By class. The only way for AOH to catch on is for people to enter with good dogs and do their best.

                    If people always use "handler bias" as an excuse to to learn how to handle and condition their dogs better, they will never be as successful as they might have been otherwise. I spend a lot of time studying. Those handlers were once in my position - every single one of them - learning the ropes and paying their dues as beginners.

                    That said...there is sometimes a bit of bias: I remember a show a couple of years back in which my dog was awarded Select Dog and a handler's Select Bitch...but the handler's entry was also a dog. We stood in that line and I waited for my Select ribbon, but when the handler and I pointed out to the judge his mistake, the judge awarded the Select Dog award to the handler and I walked. That was the hardest "suck it up and be a good sport" I'd ever had to do. It still smarts. My dog *did* win Select Dog! The handler had a nice bitch - too bad about those testicles!
                    Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I just finished "Show Dog" as well. I found it interesting, but not always factual and remember it is just one pint of view. I have always handled my own dogs with one exception - my male needed three single points for his championshhip and he was just bored with me and it showed in the ring, so I sent him off with a pro. He became a different dog and showed like a dream (and finished). I will never know why he lost his spark with me, but it happens., I am sure it may have been my attitude.... Now I have him in Obedience training and he is happy again with me and wants to learn and please...What fun!!!

                      But having said that, "specialing" a dog is a different world all together..... I know a few owner handlers that special their own dogs and have gotten them into the Top Ten but I could never do that as I hate the travelling and you HAVE to travel to get your dog out there. Money and time it what it takes and the best dogs are not necessarily in the top ten.. many are relaxing on a couch or going on to performance training.

                      I grew up in the dog show world and am also an AKC judge, but I am pretty much at the end of my conformation career... I do not have the inclination to run a dog through a specials career and I am really enjoying the obedience/rally venue now as well as going into field and eventually tracking.....

                      I truly believe that the real evaluation of a dog stops at the breed level - the group and BIS competition is at a different level and does not mean much to me as a breeder.....But it is fun and brings in the spectators, so my hat is off to those who "Go for It!"
                      We do not have an overpopulation of dogs, we have an under population of responsible dog owners!!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The movie Best in Show is a great documentary about show dogs. I highly recommend it.
                        What do you mean it's not a documentary?!

                        I was an amateur handler and put many BoBs on my dog and had a brief stint in the top 20. I could not travel enough to maintain and build up his ranking so he finally slipped out. That was my main reason for having a pro. She took my dog one weekend and put 3 majors on him - one more than he needed to get his title. Just like that, he was finished and from then on I just dabbled, grabbed some big rosettes, and went to one specialty way up north.
                        It can be done without a handler, but not without a lot of time off to travel. If you want to be a top 10/20, you gotta go to every show you can to maintain your rank. That means lots of nights in hotels, and lots of money for entries. If your dog is really good, then you have to think about taking ads out in the big show mags too.
                        I had a lot of fun with it and miss it quite often.
                        You are what you dare.

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