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why are dog shows a competition?

Discussion in 'Getting Started in Conformation' started by JessicaR, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. JessicaR

    JessicaR Forums Enthusiast

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    Or should dog shows be a competition? This was something that was brought up at 4H yesterday.

    We all know conformation shows is to evaluate breeding stock. But WHY is it a contest, WHY are their winners and losers? If dog shows are truly about evaluating breed stock, and not about winning a ribbon, shouldn't each individual dog be judged on its own? They could keep the point system and the requirement of different judges evaluating the dogs, but instead of saying this dog is number 1, all dogs that show be awarded points based on how close they are to the breed standard. They could then be issued a certificate saying that they worthy being a breeding dog.

    Maybe then we could get away from all the chalk, dye, hairspray, wigs, and all the other substance that is added to the dogs fur to make them "look pretty".

    The reason we got into this discussion is... One of our former 4h kids is now an advisor. She is learning to be a professional handler and a dog trainer. She is currently working with a Mal,(part of her training) that comes from a kennel that breeds/trains dogs for schutzhund and police/military work. She has gotten some guff for working with this kennel from show people, because this kennel does not show their dogs in conformation. :eek2: I think it is ridiculous this kennel is being put down because they don't "show" their dogs. Obviously these dogs have to be excellent conformation to be able to do what they are doing day in and day out! The military/police would not keep buying from these people if their dogs couldn't hold up to their everyday job! Which is more than what I can say for the majority of the so called AKC Champion dogs!

    Which led us to the discussion of why is conformation nothing but a contest/brag fest? It just seems to me that dog shows have gotten away from the true reason of what there purpose is.

    Please explain to me why or why not I am wrong!!
     
  2. Mom2Melli

    Mom2Melli Forums Enthusiast

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    I don't think animal shows were meant to certify and qualify breeding stock. I think from the git go they all (be they cat, dog, rabbit, llama, horse, bird, etc.) are "mine are better than yours -- look at meeee". I think as an evaluation of breeding stock, that came after -- mine are better than yours, my breeding stock is worth more because they are better than yours, all breeding stock is not worth anything else they are better than someone else's and the more people you are better than the more valuable the stock.

    In reality -- breeding stock SHOULD be evaluated on health cert's as well as some personality testing (holding CGC, therapy, etc.). You give me a winner with no health cert's versus a dog with every single health cert., the CGC, the therapy cert. and I would choose the second as a sire/dam. The dog should also be able to DO something. Hold working titles. Those are worth more than trotting around all fluffy any day.

    If you really want revolutionary -- breeding stock should have to earn a variety -- you need to have health cert.'s, personality cert's like the CGC or therapy or other, working achievements in something related to what you were bred to do (i.e., herding for herders or tracking for hound etc.), AND you should have some conformation achievements in some way. Wait, that is how the GSD's do it -- you aren't anything unless you achieve all that, at least that is how they sound on th GSD board and what was intended for that "all-round" shepherd dog they created.

    The question is not why conformation is brag fest competition -- the question is why is that the BIG judge of breeding stock? The question really is what makes for all-around good breeding stock and how should that be evaluated.
     
  3. JLSOhio51

    JLSOhio51 Forums Enthusiast

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    I think that JessicaR has hit on a very interesting topic. Since I do not show dogs, my input comes from the outside looking in. It is what I feel but not necessarily representative of what most think/feel.

    IMO, it is human nature to compete. Being a competitive person myself, I understand that. Why else would there be competitions in log rolling or tree climbing? As far as that goes, I'm OK with whatever activity people choose to compete over, BUT...

    This is where I have an issue. IMO, if the competition was ONLY about meeting breed standards, there would be no room for artificial means of making a dog look better. I don't have an issue that such things are allowed, it just seems inconsistent that they are allowed if the goal is to select the dogs that best represent a breed. It would seem that the most representative dog would be the one that meets the ideal without the cosmetics. If cosmetics are allowed, the competition is just about the best looking dog, not the dog that represents a conformance to the breed standard (and that would be OK too if that is what competitors decide).

    Again, IMO, it is a bragfest, but I see nothing wrong with that. Work hard and brag is fine by me.
     
  4. JessicaR

    JessicaR Forums Enthusiast

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    See I can understand agility, herding, obedience ect... being a competition where there is a clear cut winner. Conformation on the other hand is supposed to be about is the dog up to standard to breed, not who the best handler/groomer is.

    I am not a competitive person by nature, I hate being in the ring, I get very nervous in crowds and don't like to talk to people I don't know or make eye contact with them. Heck it took almost 9 years of my kids being in 4h before I felt comfortable enough to be an advisor, but I still don't feel comfortable talking in a large group. To be honest I even feel uncomfortable talking to people on the computer even though they cant see me. :eek:

    But I love dogs and wanted to be a good breeder which meant I needed to show my dogs, So I did despite my fears. But I never enjoyed it. Was I happy when Belle got her championship? Yes I was but I was so glad when she finished because that meant I didn't have to show her anymore.

    So now I am to the point of what to do. I have decided since I am not good with crowds and really don't like competing, I cant be the breeder I want to be. So instead I raise puppies to be guide dogs, and, after my new baby is older I am going to be a breeding dog foster for the guide dog school. That way I will get to be involved in what I love (breeding) and help those with disabilities.
     
  5. JLSOhio51

    JLSOhio51 Forums Enthusiast

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    I don't really have an issue with conformation being a competition. Like I said, people decide what they want to compete over and then make up the rules for competing and winning or losing. So far, so good. I have always loved competing and I'm a believer that in competition, there should always be a winner and loser. (As a result, the more recent trend with children's competitions where they don't keep score and have no winners/losers - only competitors - is problematic for me.) The only issue I have with conformation is that (if I understand it correctly) some competitions allow for the artificial enhancements that we talked about.

    I didn't know that in order to be a breeder that you had to personally show your dogs. I understand why it is important that your dogs are shown, but is it necessary that you actually do the showing? Is it possible for you to partner with someone who will do the showing while you concentrate on breeding?
     
  6. EJHUNTL

    EJHUNTL Forums Enthusiast

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    I totally don't get the makeup (that is what chalk, dye and sprays are) - That stuff must feel just awful for the dog - I know I hate the feel of hairspray in my hair and I'm a human so at least I'd be making the choice.

    Why can't conformation be demonstrated with a clean, brushed out & trimmed puppy or dog. After all that is what they are going to look like most of the time. Has anyone ever seen a sheltie walking around with its ruff standing up over its head like that outside the ring - looks really odd to me.


    Kinda like a Toddlers & Tiaras for dogs :winkgrin:
     
  7. JessicaR

    JessicaR Forums Enthusiast

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    I would have to show the dogs myself because I really cant afford to hire someone to show my dogs for me, nor would I want to send them off to stay with a handler while they are showing.

    I also have a problem with dogs being shown with products in their fur. Which is one of the reasons I like UKC, they will dismiss you from the ring for using products, and yes I have seen it happen. They also don't allow handlers, which then brings me right back to the fact that I don't enjoy being in the ring. Plus the fact that a lot (not all) of AKC people look down on UKC people and say they are no better than backyard breeders. (yes I have heard that said)

    Anyways I just thought it was an interesting conversation as we have all different types of kids at 4h. Most have pets only but there is 1 kid that has Irish red and whites, his dog is the number 1 IRWS in UKC and then another girl has beagles that they mostly do hunting trials with, but she has recently started showing in UKC conformation.
     
  8. JessicaR

    JessicaR Forums Enthusiast

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    I feel the same way! There is no reason at all for a dog to have hairspray and chalk, and don't even get me started about the wigs poodles wear :dead:

    My oldest son, when he was 10 or 11 used say the ruff looked like a llamas neck when it was all fluffed out :lol: He would say at the dog shows "Mom please don't give the dog llama neck".
     
  9. Ann

    Ann Moderator

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    On paper, products are not allowed in the show ring. Of course you'd never know that if you stroll through the grooming area. Why do we do it? The simple answer is because everyone else does, and you don't have much of a chance if your dog doesn't look his or her best and that means a full ruff and sparkling whites.

    Some breeds ban trimming or sculpting the coat, except for feet. Most ban artificial products. The AKC clearly does not enforce this rule so it's rather a joke. You will, however, be dismissed from the ring for too much makeup, or chalk that poofs off the dog when the judge pats it, or lead in the ears to tip them.

    I do chalk my dogs and use products to add volume to their ruffs. I happen to like the way they look when they're done up. My dogs are bathed the day after after the show so it all comes out. Having just come from our Sheltie National, I can say that I saw some very lovely dogs, and some that were way overdone...ruffs teased, coats heavily sculpted etc. They don't look attractive IMO, or natural on any level, and most judges agree.

    If you're uncomfortable taking your dog in the ring, perhaps you have a friend who you could teach to do it for you, or even a Junior -- one of your 4H members, perhaps, who could also learn from the experience. Then you could enjoy your dog and give someone who enjoys it the opportunity to show....a win/win for everyone!
     
  10. Tagg

    Tagg Forums Enthusiast

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    Shows started out being a venue to showcase dogs that people bred to do a job. Over the years, the jobs mostly ended but the shows continued as a way of getting evaluations of breeding stock. You've heard the phrase "kennel blind" I am sure and showing meant seeing your dog as it compared to others of its own breed.
    Now, we still look to find the "perfect" match for our dog at shows because if you want to see a doctored dog, look at a picture!
    As for grooming products, generally when you bath a dog the coat will be limp for several days. This started competitors adding products, just as you do for yourself, to lift the coat and enhance the outline. A good judge will feel their way through all this and make their decision based on the true structure. However, standards are written by people with little to no knowledge of genetics, kinesiology or much else hence you get things like - moderate this or good layback without the accompanying mention of lay on. Exhibitors try to make their dog fit the standard. An example of this is; all dogs have a dip in their topline but the standard says level so they lift and fluff where the neck meets the back. Another example is, to get that pretty outline of a sheltie, collie, Belgian, poodle etc., you have to have a more forward lay on of the shoulder assembly which makes the back appear to be longer than it really is. So, lift and fluff to make it appear shorter or the dog will appear long and low. Get the picture? I have no patience for dying the hair or filling in the colour of the skin but I use chalk on my westies and hairspray to finish the look. The chalk is lightly used to "dirty" the hair just as mousse is on your hair. It puts back the backbone of the strand allowing lift. All products are washed out at the end of the weekend.
     

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