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The World Of Dog Shows

With Anthony Brooks in for Tom Ashbrook.

With Westminster this week, we’ll look at the rarefied world of show dogs.

Veni Vidi Vici, a Doberman pinscher, competes in the working group, which she later won, during the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, in New York. (AP)

Veni Vidi Vici, a Doberman pinscher, competes in the working group, which she later won, during the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, in New York. (AP)

This week a pug-nosed Pekingese named Malachy won Best in Show at the Westminster dog Show. But who are these eccentric people who devote their lives to these over-pampered animals? Whacky weirdos, perhaps, but in his new book, Josh Dean offers a nuanced portrait of one of this country’s more colorful sub-cultures.

Two million dogs compete in more than 11-hundred sanctioned dog shows. It’s a story of breeders, handlers, promoters, judges, doggy hair-stylists, and a loveable Australian Shepherd named Jack.

This hour, On Point: Show Dog — and the story of a near perfect purebred.

-Anthony Brooks


Josh Dean, author of Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred.

David Fitzpatrick, co-owner and handler of Malachy, the Pekingese that won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday.

From The Reading List

The New York Times “In triumph, Malachy relaxed, splaying himself on a table for his news conference. If you looked hard, or close enough, you could see his little eyes. His face was framed by a coat that gave him the look of a 1960’s guru — or perhaps Cousin Itt’s pet.”

The Daily Beast “Among the many things you probably didn’t know about top show dogs—the ones that contend in competitions like Westminster, which begins Feb. 13—is that they are heavily advertised. Just as movie studios and nominated celebrities place “For Your Consideration” ads during Oscar season to sway Academy voters, show-dog owners buy ads glorifying their dogs to influence contest judges. These show-dog vanity ads appear in a range of magazines (and increasingly websites) created to serve mostly as vehicles for them.”

Photos: Top Dog

Here you can find a gallery of photos submitted by On Point fans.

Malachy, a Pekingese, winner of the best in show title at the136th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show, takes a rest after eating a chicken and rice meal at Sardi's Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 in New York. (AP)

Malachy, a Pekingese, winner of the best in show title at the136th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show, takes a rest after eating a chicken and rice meal at Sardi's Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 in New York. (AP)

Show Dog Author Josh Dean. (Kate Lacey Photography)

Show Dog Author Josh Dean. (Kate Lacey Photography)

Excerpt: Show Dog

Chapter Seven
Fantastically Rich People
Do the Darnedest Things:
A Brief History of Dog Shows

So enthusiastic is the average fancier today over the beauty and the wonder of his own dog that he sees him for the most part as the exponent of a breed unique among all other breeds; to him, other breeds may not even exist.

—Josephine Z. Rine, mid-twentieth-century dog writer

Dog shows first appeared on the scene in England during the Victorian era, and you can still see that period’s patrician influence in the floppy hats and natty attire that the sport’s old guard love to trot out for big events like Westminster. The first dog show ever held seems to have occurred on June 28, 1859, when a group of hunters gathered in the town of Newcastle upon Tyne and picked over sixty dogs from just two classes: pointers and setters. It wasn’t that they were being choosy; these were just the only dogs anyone involved owned at the time. Winners were given guns in lieu of trophies.

A second show was held in November of that year in the town of Birmingham,
and its organizers expanded the field by a full one-third, tossing spaniels into the mix. A year later the Birmingham show welcomed hounds for the first time, and we were off and running. The National Dog Show Birmingham, as it was called, survives to this day, with far more company for those hounds and spaniels. It is considered to be the world’s oldest dog show and is held every year in May at the Staffordshire County show ground with a field that typically features more than ten thousand dogs. More than three times the size of Westminster.

In those early days, there weren’t really standards for the breeds; the dogs’ owners probably couldn’t have told you exactly what breed their animals were, because no one asked such questions. He was, for instance, probably just a red-colored foxhunting hound, and since the progenitors of shows were hunters, the real measure of that dog was how well he performed at his particular job.

Things began to formalize in 1874, upon publication of the first Kennel Club stud book, which included a code of rules that dictated how a dog show should be conducted, as well as a calendar of events that listed a full year’s worth of shows—all two of them.

Here in the United States, we were too busy spearing each other with bayonets to make time for something as frivolous as selecting the finest dogs, so it wasn’t until the end of the Civil War that things got moving. And we owe it all to Mr. P. H. Bryson, a furniture dealer from Memphis, Tennessee, 1 credited in a history of the Memphis Kennel Club as “the First Advocate of Dog Shows in America” (their caps, not mine). Like most able-bodied men of his day, Bryson served in the war, and he survived his service, but just barely. He was so badly wounded that when army doctors discharged him from a military hospital, it was to “go home to die so that he might have a decent burial.” Once home, Bryson went to see his family doctor, the honorable D. D. Saunders, and when the doctor got a look at the skeletal presence in his office, a 110-pound weakling who “could not walk a hundred yards without pausing to rest,” he told Bryson his only hope of carrying on was to try to rebuild his strength, and he prescribed exercise—in particular hunting, with the help and companionship of a bird dog.

Bryson went out and got himself a gun and a dog, a “bobbed-tail Pointer,” and commenced killing birds. The exercise, and the dog, saved his life. His vigor returned, and he put on a hundred pounds. Bryson and his brother would move on to setters, importing top specimens from England, and founded the Bryson Setter Kennels. But hunting and breeding weren’t enough for old P. H. Bryson. He wanted to show his dogs. Bryson began a campaign to get the sport off the ground, lobbying via a series of articles in the magazine Turf, Field & Farm, which despite its name was not a periodical about sod. Apparently people were reading, because before the Bryson brothers could even put together their own show, the Illinois State Sportsmen Association beat them to it, staging America’s first-ever dog show, in Chicago, on June 4, 1874. It featured just twenty-one dogs, all of them setters and pointers.

Lacking any template or rules, organizers were making things up as they went along. Instead of a winner, the three judges merely pronounced critiques of the dogs presented. All the dogs were complimented by the judging panel, but the best review seemed to go to Exhibit 5, J. H. Whitman’s Frank and Joe—a pair of three-year-old “black and steel mixed Setters, bred by Hilliard, from imported Gordon Setters.” The judges’ report proclaimed that “the committee, among so many well appearing dogs, find it hard to make an award, but incline to the opinion that this pair of animals are entitled to the highest marks of credit as the best pair of Setters exhibited.” It wasn’t pithy, but it was kindly received.

America’s second dog show was to be held a few weeks later, in Oswego, New York, but this one didn’t go off quite so well. “As there was no competition, there being but two dogs and one bitch entered, the committee deemed it advisable to return the entrance money to the exhibitors, Mr. A. L. Sherwood and N. W. Nutting,” said a report. (Though it should be noted that “the committee desires to express the highest commendation of Mr. Sherwood’s orange and white pair of Setters,” which I guess were the two dogs that entered.)

A third, better-attended show took place in October in Mineola, on Long Island, and that one at least aspired to be organized. It was carried out according to English Kennel Club rules, and dogs were judged according to four categories: Irish setters, Gordon setters, “Setters of Any Breed,”2 and pointers.

The Bryson brothers, then, would stand fourth in the historical record. On October 8, 1874, the two, along with old Dr. Saunders, staged a Field Trial and Bench Show in Memphis that would, for what is believed to be the first time in America, present a Best in Show award—pitting the Best Pointer against the Best Setter. And who should qualify to compete in the final two but Mr. P. H. Bryson, with his setter, Maud, and May, the pointer of Dr. Saunders, the physician who told him to get a dog in the first place. After much deliberation the judge made the difficult decision and let the record state that the first Best in Show in American history was awarded to P. H. Bryson, the man who’d started the whole dog-show conversation in the first place, by a hair over the doctor who’d saved his life by prescribing a dog.

America’s oldest surviving show happens to be its most famous: the Westminster Kennel Club show, so named because it was born at the bar of the Westminster Hotel in 1877. Originally called the “First Annual New York Bench Show3 of Dogs,” it was open only to sporting dogs but is now a juggernaut broadcast live over two nights on national TV (the only show to get such treatment) and is the second-oldest continuously held sporting event in America, after the Kentucky Derby, which predates it by a single year. Among the top attractions of that debut show were two staghounds from a pack owned by (the then-dead) General George Custer, two deerhounds bred by Queen Victoria of England (reported to be worth fifty thousand dollars each), and a two-legged dog said to be “a veritable biped, and withal possessing almost human intelligence.” It was the place to be for New Yorkers on the scene. A New York Times story reported that “the gentlemen who served as ticket sellers could not make change fast enough to suit the impatience of the throng that was continually clamoring for admittance.”

Just a year later, benched dog shows had become such a hit that Field & Stream wrote the following: “We doubt if even the ‘Bench Show of Intellect,’ suggested by The World, and in which it is proposed to exhibit all classes of poets and literary people in general, would call forth more interested, aristocratic, or cultured throngs than the dog show audiences.” And then, a year later, concern for dog shows’ spread prompted this in the same magazine: “We think there are too many Bench Shows. This opinion is not alone our own, but is pretty generally expressed by the public. We believe that during the year there should be held only two great shows in the country, and no more.” The proliferation of shows, the editors felt, could only diminish the luster of existing events.

Field & Stream’s plea fell on deaf ears, and the dog-show juggernaut rolled on. The American Kennel Club was formed in 1884, in Philadelphia, when the heads of twelve distinct clubs gathered with the goal of creating a “club of clubs” to rule them all. A month later they met again in New York City to write a constitution and bylaws and formally adopted a reliable “studbook” that set breed standards. It took a while for the AKC to inculcate the nation’s dog fanciers with formalized rules and standards for conformation, but by 1909 the organization had created the fifteen-point requirement for achieving a dog’s championship (and even then an exhibitor needed those points to come from at least three judges). By 1920 the AKC was officially sanctioning shows, and in 1924 the two existing groups—Sporting and Non-Sporting—were split into five: Sporting (which included hounds), Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Working (which included herding). That same year 154 conformation shows were held across America, up from 11 in 1884, the year the AKC was founded.

Because of the close association with hunting, dog shows began as a high-society affair in America, too. All the wealthiest families had kennels on their estates, and the handlers who ran them worked tirelessly to improve the quality of their stock. The conformation record books are filled with titans of American business—the names Belmont, Morgan,4 Whitney, Gould, and Rockefeller were all commonly glimpsed in the show programs5—and shows were regularly featured in magazines and newspapers alongside news of other popular sports. “Everybody,” wrote a New York Times reporter of an early show’s attendees, “was fashionably dressed and wore an air of good breeding.” (I’m fairly certain no pun was intended.)

To give you an idea of just how prized a top dog was to society folk back then, consider that in 1908, a Ford Model T cost $825, while, according to Mark Derr, in his fascinating and fact-dense A Dog’s History of America, “the most desirable purebred dogs routinely started at $1,000 and ran to $5,000.”

The country’s top dogs were featured in Popular Dogs magazine, a weekly filled with profiles and new stories as well as promotional ads for champions, show listings, classifieds, and small boxed advertisements for products like Vermicide Capsules and the delouser Pulvex, which, according to its slogan, “Actually kills fleas instead of stupefying them!”

No show got more play, of course, than Westminster, which even then was world-famous. And the January 11, 1929, issue of Popular Dogs offered the following important news: “For the first time, perhaps, in the history of dog shows, canine reciprocity will be the order of the day, meaning that special precautions are to be taken lest the dogs endanger the people and the people annoy the dogs. There will be no biting of spectators at the Garden show this year, nor will there be any sticking of fingers in dogs’ eyes by a too interested public.” New wire cages, it reported, “will make accidents impossible, unless, of course, the spectator goes out of his way to make trouble for himself.”

1. And to the late Baptist minister and dog-show judge Dr. Braxton B. Sawyer for uncovering the very rare source materials that revealed this story

2. Excepting Irish and Gordon, one presumes.

3. A “bench” or “benched” show being a then-common type of show in which dogs were on display, in cages on benches, for the entirety of the show.

4. J. P. Morgan loved dogs—and once offered thirty-two thousand pounds for a top-winning Pekingese owned by the Englishwoman Clarice Ashton Cross, who politely turned him down.

5. In England the Prince of Wales, who became Edward VII, and his wife, Alexandra, were patrons of the Kennel Club—and showed borzois, gifts of the Czar Nicholas II of Russia.


From Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred By Josh Dean

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  • LinP

    Your show should be titled The Horrific World of Dog Shows. If you have any interest in this topic, you must watch the BBC documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” for a real look at what “pedigree” and “show dog” really means. Link below.

    These breeders have played God with NO real knowledge–in fact, complete willful ignorance–of genetics. It is NOT OK to breed father and daughter, even if it is a dog. The horrific condition “syringomyelia” is rampant in the Cavelier King Charles Spaniel (my neighbor’s Cav has it), yet the “best in show” bitch who suffered from the condition was bred as a “champion line.” Why? It’s alld one for the sake of some human definition of canine beauty.

    Remember, the dogs in these shows are not judged for their working ability, that which is the true dog nature. They are judged for their looks-things like “the height at their withers,” and other human artifices. It is wrong and it is criminal.

    And, oh, did you know that the ACK Westminster Dog Show rejected their long-time sponsor Pedigree this year? Why? Because Pedigree had a series of PSA ads promoting the adoption of shelter dogs, which are , of course, mixed breeds. (Then again, even all the pedigree dogs are mixed from various breeds!)

    If you care about animals, get educated. These dog shows are an abomination.



    • Doglover

      You are 100% correct with your entire statement.  I still donated to Pedigree.

      • Vysions

        Dog showing for many creates an extended family that u see every weekend. It was a great way for my kids to learn responibilty and had fun.

    • Tess

      The author sounds like a nice guy, but he is speaking nonsense: if you want to find a smart child, you don’t line a bunch up against the wall and say, “oooh, that one looks smart, I pick her!” – you talk to them.  Similarly, if you want to find a good herding dog, then have a trail, lots of those Aussies couldn’t herd to save their lives, but they sure look pretty. 

    • Doglover

      I retrack  my former statement.  You are 50% correct.  I still donate to Pedigree.  Dog Show People adopt many mix breeds dogs.  I still donated to pedigree.

    • Ann

      did your mother ever realize that her not having an abortion produced an idiot like you.

  • Yar

    @@ad773eabcab0cf38796df50b1c16eaf0:disqus This is what you get when you teach to the test, especially when the test is invalid or inaccurate.  This is happening in the republican primary, best in show is who can be most partisan and willing to bite.   I prefer a work dog, not a show dog. I like a president that defines himself as a mutt.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Woof woof! (humanspeak: amen brother)

    • LinP

       Woof woof x2 :)

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  • Alysiaabbott

    Can your guest comment on the effect of the shows on dog breeding trends? Does high demand for winning breeds hurt other breeds or eventually hurt the winning breeds when the demand tapers off?

  • Westie Lover

    We are not peculiar or wierd.  We respect the true nature of the dog.  I love the West Highland Terriers.  The dogs love earthdog, agility etc.  At the show they are white and fluffy.  At home they are dirty and sticky.   They are proud they kill rats. 

  • Erika Rosengarten

    I thought this was interesting. I work on mascot characters, and recently I needed to do research on Australian shepherds. I am currently working on the mask portion of the costume of an Aussie.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    So, it’s mostly that ‘money wins!’?   Financial backers, like NASCAR?  Like Congressmen?

  • blkspaniel

    I think terriers hold the most trophies; not poodles.


    I was disappointed that Pedigree dog food company was not able to air their wonderful ads.  Each year they showed poignant ads for rescue or abandonned dogs.  The snobby AKC said the ads were too sad.  Too bad.

    • By The Sea Dog Training

      those ads are put out by an anaiml rights org, thats why westminster dropped them.

  • Wilder Ideas

    No mention that Pekinese have been overbred for their looks so much that they can no longer give birth on their own and have to have a C section for every delivery. A lot of what breeders,m do, with the support and encouragement of the AKC, should be considered animal abuse.

  • Isosceles93

    Poodles get a bad rap. I have a Standard and she is the most intelligent athletic dog I’ve ever had. She came with papers, but I didn’t register her with the AKC because of what they’ve done to the breed. They’re in the non-sporting group, but they are actually bird dogs that were breed for hunting. And that ridicules hair cut is required to show them should be outlawed. The AKC  also doesn’t allow multi colored Poodles (called a parti poodle) which has led breeders to kill the parti puppies for years. Some breeder don’t agree with this practice because of what it’s done to the dogs genetics. This is the side of breeding that doesn’t get talked about. Many breeds have serious health problem due to bad breeding practices like in-line breeding.
    It’s great to see all the dogs in the show, but we must remember it’s just a beauty contest.

  • Juttav

    I find the dog show world to be abusive to dogs as well.  It is disgusting they way dogs are exploited and over-bred to satisfy humans desire to manipulate the physical traits of a bred.  This causes so much suffering for the animal.  Dogs are very special creatures and for people to use them for such superficial interests is terrible and sad.  With all the unwanted homeless dogs in this country to perpetuate needless breeding is a shame. 

    • Heidi

      I show dogs, and once took a social worker to her first dog show.  After an hour of walking around and watching the judging and the grooming her comment to me was “if only every child I work with had the loving attention that these dogs get, I would be gladly out of a job.”
      When my show dogs retire they are sad not to be going to dog shows any more.
      According to your perspective, people shouldn’t give birth to children, either, until all of the homeless orphans in the world have been adopted. 

    • LinP

       Absolutely. The last thing this world needs is another litter of puppies.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=755170304 Hurricana Maria

        THANK YOU. OVER 4 MILLIONS HOMELESS CATS AND DOGS killed, mudered.. gassed… and stacked are the bodies and BURNED in an incinerator .. we DO NOT NEED ANY MORE PEOPLE BREEDING FOR GREED. A DIRTY TRUTH of the “industry”. It’s all for sport though! IT’s COOL!!! RIGHT!?!? :(

        http://www.PETFINDER.com BABY!!!!!!!! SAVE A LIFE.

      • nemesis

        the last thing we need is idiots who think dog shows are abusive. Why done you tree hugging anial rights whack jobs go back under your rocks and leave the rest fo us alone.

  • Longfellow’sEvangeline

    This dog’s portrait reminds me of the face of those wise monkeys, the little ones, that are active at night.  I didn’t like them as a breed because of the barking at the big dignified dogs.  But, I have to admit, my fathers was the most loyal dog, guarding him and reflecting his intentions to the visiting hospice nurse.  So if nurses ignored my father, the dog got the message across.  This dog has that look, too.

  • Don_bourne

    Absurd I think, the idea that the judges are looking for evidence tha some breed conforms to the ideal that it was bred for. Can you imagine a hundred-pound Labrador with a dead duck in its mouth  trying to get back into the canoe with you?

    • K9lady07052

      If a Labrador is 100 lbs, it’s probably too big. They are not big dogs, but mediums sized and they hunt from land  most of the time.

  • Kevin2012

    There is no perfect breed. All breeds are subject to disabilities. Some are purposely breed into them.

    • Wibblet68

       No breeder in his or her right mind would knowingly “breed” a disability.  There are plenty of back yard breeders who do no screening whatsoever, but those are not the people you’re seeing at Westminster…  The dogs who turn up there?  Thousands of dollars were probably spent testing their parents and other ancestors for a laundry list of things, to try and avoid any problems.

  • Tess

    The author sounds like a nice guy, but he is speaking nonsense: if you
    want to find a smart child, you don’t line a bunch up against the wall
    and say, “oooh, that one looks smart, I pick her!” – you talk to them. 
    Similarly, if you want to find a good herding dog, then have a trail,
    lots of those Aussies couldn’t herd to save their lives, but they sure
    look pretty. 

    • Heidi

      I think that you don’t really understand ‘conformation’ shows, as dog shows such as Westminster is.  Every breed has a ‘standard’ – a description of what physical traits and behavior traits the dog needs in order to do the job it was designed to do.  In a conformation show, a judge chooses one dog that he/she feels best fits that description among the dogs that show up that day.  The judge is not choosing the dog that can herd, but merely has the physical ability to herd.  To continue to use Aussies as an example, the majority of dog owners do not have flocks these days, so to have a dog that has sound physical structure, looks pretty, and perhaps has an instinct to herd is enough for the 99% without flocks.  The 1% with flocks don’t stop with conformation shows but these people also attend herding trials to use and evaluate breeding stock. 

    • Anonymous

      Tess, if you go to buy a good riding horse, you look at conformation first.  If you pick a good working dog, you look at conformation.  That doesn’t mean instinct and attitude don’t matter for working – but conformation limits what a horse or dog can accomplish.  That’s what dog shows (or in hand horse classes) look at.

  • comments

    Replace the words “human being” for the word “dog” and you have a disturbing perspective.  Are dogs “slaves,” even “happy slaves?”

  • gc boston

    If the goal of the breed standard is to maintain the breed’s “function”, what do bulldog breeders have to say about their dogs’ inability to breed and whelp naturally?  I’ve heard that bulldogs, especially french bulldogs, require c-sections and natural birth can result in the death of the whole litter.  Why breed dogs to this anatomical standard?  It seems horrible.

    • Wibblet68

       But there are many other breeds (most, actually) that usually whelp naturally unless there is some kind of emergency.

      • Anonymous

        My breed too – twenty years, one C-section, and that was for an emergency.

  • Ksmith

    Aussies are great dogs and Jack is a pet first… he just happens to be a great respresentation of the breed standard and as such did very well in the show ring.  He LOVES showing!  Loves the attention.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amy-E-Mentes/100000910787407 Amy E Mentes

    I am an owner of a Basenji, a breed only recognized by the AKC in the 1940s.  They are a natural breed from the Congo, known as a bark less hunting dog, in the hound category.  He is not a a show dog, although his brother is a show dog.  I bought him at 7 months old because the breeder decided not to keep him to breed, due to his “hind not being as attractive as his brother’s.”  I actually rescued this dog because shortly after I adopted him, I found a lump that ended up being fibrosarcoma (not normally found in dogs, mostly cats).  I guess my question is, What do most breeders do with the ones that aren’t “show quality” or adoptable?  

    • Wibblet68

       A reputable breeder will place those dogs that aren’t show quality into well-screened pet homes, with a contract that says should the dog ever be “homeless” for whatever reason, it will come back to the breeder.  Done right, no dog is hanging in the lurch.  Ever.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=755170304 Hurricana Maria

      THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT KILL THE PUPPIES THEY SEE AS “DEFECTIVE” –isnt that horrible!?!?! We don’t do this with humans because that is not “PC” … but dogs!? Of course it’s OK!!! How screwed up is that!? I have read and seen stories where puppies are drowned… suffocated… killed… slaughtered… fed to other dogs… shot in the head… gassed… euthanized by a friend who is a vet… and so on. SOMETIMES… they sell them “cheaper” or give away to a rescue…. a friend…because the dog is “defective” .. how AWESOME IS THAT!?!? YAY for the AKC and WESTMINSTER. DARK STUFF THEY DO NOT TALK ABOUT. *BEWARE*

      • Wibblet68

         I’d like to know where you are getting these horrible stories.  The people showing dogs at dog shows are NOT the people gassing/strangling/suffocating puppies.  Maybe in the extreme, if a puppy is born deformed or sick,  I think you’ve confused dog breeders with Michael Vick.  If a “breeder” is doing any of the things you mention above, they could and would be called on the carpet by any number of breed clubs and could (and should) be prosecuted.  You’re basically painting every dog breeder with the same brush you paint the dogfighting crowd, and it’s ridiculous.

        • Wibblet68

           Typo in there…  Maybe if a puppy is born deformed or fatally ill, humane euthanasia might be employed, but I can’t imagine a breeder just willy-nilly killing off puppies.  Pet-quality puppies ARE often sold a bit cheaper than show dogs, but if a person has no interest in showing their dog, why is it wrong for them to pay a bit less?

        • Anonymous

          I think she’s believing a lot of made up stuff.  If she had listened to the program and read the book – or even better, actually TALKED to some show people – she’d have better info.

        • By The Sea Dog Training

          its Peta propaganda… its all bull cookies! 

      • Anonymous

        I’ve been showing dogs for over 20 years.  In all that time, I have never seen anyone put down a pup as defective because of they were not show quality. 

        I have seen dogs humanely put to sleep to alleviate incurable suffering.  That’s it.  It is absolutely not the norm for a show dog person to euthanize pet puppies – I have NEVER seen someone do it, in over 20 years of showing.

      • Kuhlykud

        Hurricane Maria ,

        I think you are nuts and additicted to spamming people with insanity! You should have more real information for people and not just more animal rights propaganda.
        You have read and seen stories about, but have no real proof. No show breeder gives their dogs to rescue! You seem nuts to me and easily swayed with sensational stories that pull your emotional strings while at the same time being bored with truth

    • Dogfan

      Reputable breeders sell the non-show quality dogs as PETS and they are to be spayed or neutered.

    • Anonymous

      Most show breeders “pet out” dogs that aren’t show quality, meaning that they go on spay/neuter contracts to homes that don’t care about conformation shows. 

      Often the new owners participate in other dog sports (agility, tracking, herding, lure coursing, whatever is appropriate for that breed.) 

      • PoodleGirl

         I purchased two of the most adorable, loving toy poodles as “pets” from a very reputable breeder, because they were not “show” or “breeding” quality.  I have had them nearly 14 years now and cannot imagine my life without them.  We had to sign contracts that we would not breed them.  Some people have hair and dander allergies.  There are very few breeds that do not shed, so mutts don’t work for every family.  I have also had aggression issues with adopted/shelter pets in the past, although this is likely not the norm.  Our pets are our children. We foster shelter animals from time to time when poodles or Bischon Frises come into the shelters. We also donate to local shelters to help them support these dogs.  It’s especially hard now as people lose their homes and move into non-pet-friendly apartments. I think the real problem is not people who like pure-breds, but people who treat animals in their care as “things.”  Peace.

  • Eos in VT

    As far as showing dogs being abusive . . .is it preferable to leave a dog home alone all day or keeping it in a tiny apartment and walking it when you can fit into your busy schedule? A show dog is doted on and groomed and rarely alone, I don’t think they are unhappy.

  • Markus

    Could there be a group of people that are more of a downer than NPR listeners?

    My mom bred and showed Pekes. She was a bit of a nut on it and, frankly, Pekes are not my favorite dog, but I can’t think of anything that made her or her dogs happier than the primping and showing. And though the people I’ve met who do this really do seem a bit nutty, they also seem caring and decent. And I’d rather spend time with them than people who seem only able to see the dark side of everything.

    • Heidi

      Amen, Markus!

    • LinP

       The paradox is that we “downers” have learned what true harm has been perpetrated on dogs in order for breeds to conform to show standards. If you don’t know the problems with Pekes, and what has happened to that breed because on conformation for show standards, then you are the exact problem we are talking about.

      • Anonymous

        My breed standard is for a completely natural dog.  The standard for my breed is not a problem.  I agree with Markus.

  • Jo from Lunenburg

    I have a BEAUTIFUL hound mutt, and wish there were dog shows for mixed breeds….my boyfriend and I watch the dog shows, and have a burning question.

    Why do the handlers put the treats in their mouth before giving it to the dog?  What is the treat?  Why do they have to “spittle” on it first?  Why do the dogs like this?

    What the heck is the stuff?


    • Heidi

      One reason handlers put treats in their mouth is to leave both hands free to hold the leash while you’re rearranging a leg or smoothing down fly-away hair (lots of static electricity in the winter) or combing, etc. Some handlers put treats in their mouth to get the dog to look up at them rather than sniffing the floor, etc.
      Treats are whatever the dog likes best – liver, cheese, steak, etc.

  • Mark

    Pretentious people with pretentious dogs…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=755170304 Hurricana Maria

      YOU GOT IT!!! Novelties and “sports cars” to these people. Its like owning an exotic animals. Same BOAT!!!

      • Wibblet68

         Not at all.  The majority of “show dogs” go home at the end of the day or the end of a show circuit to being someone’s beloved pet.  Most (all?) people in the dog show fancy care a great deal about their animals’ health and welfare.  On the other hand, I see plenty of people of ALL social classes (don’t assume all those showing dogs aer the “elite,” because you’re sadly mistaken) who shouldn’t own a single pet, who get a dog and then stake it out in the front yard until the end of its miserable life. 

        • Anonymous

          The dog show people I know have well cared for, well loved PETS who are part of their lives.  They are not a novelty.  They are not a sports car.  I am so tired of stupid stereotypes from people who have never met a dog show person, but think they know it all.

  • B. Strand

    There was a report this week that Delta airlines had 19 animal injuries and deaths this year.  How are these animals transported?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=755170304 Hurricana Maria


    *About 5 MILLION homeless cats and dogs are killed EVERY YEAR in this country ALONE. We have a HUGE ISSUE with backyard breeders… esp in Central FL … puppy mills.. too many being killed at the SPCA and Animal Control. DO NOT ENCOURAGE THESE HORRIBLE DOG SHOWS. Its all a game… they’re novelty items…. I have three mutts that I saved from death at the pound…. please do NOT ENCOURAGE THESE PEOPLE ANY MORE!!! HORRIBLE. :( You need a show on PUPPY MILLS NOW and about all these nasty stores here in Orlando… we need to SHUT THEM DOWN!!!!!!!

    ANYONE LOOKING FOR A PET.. visit http://www.PETFINDER.com
    OVER 300,000 homeless pets on here.. cats.. dogs… bunnies… guinea pigs… they’ve been pulled from death row.. and are awaiting for a great furever home–maybe yours!? :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=755170304 Hurricana Maria

    VIEW ALL THE CURRENT DOGS on DEATH ROW at Orange CO. Animal Control RIGHT NOW… beautiful beautiful creatures of GOD: 

    *Too MANY ANIMALS are being bred right NOW for greed… we need to encourage adoption as the ONLY option. PLEASE NPR!!!

    PLEASE COVER A STORY ON ALL THE KILLING GOING ON RIGHT NOW… to man’s BESTFRIEND!!! It’s NOT right. TOO MANY BREEDERS selling dogs … dogs that are UNFIXED.. and perpetuating the PROBLEM with too many animals.. breeding.. and breeding.. and breeding… ;(
    Have a heart!!! PLEASE!!!!!! <3

  • Vet on the sideline

    As a veterinarian I am aware of over population issues.  A couple of comments:

    Who breeds dogs and goes to shows?  Breeders/hobbyists who are dedicated to preserving a specific breed and committed to improving on their own stock.  This is a craft, and while The Westminster Mutts may get attention at this time of year, they really don’t play much of a role in the over-population – this is an extremely small subset of dogs.

    Puppy mills, backyard breeders and those who, with no rhyme or reason, are taking it upon themselves to produce new breeds (a.k.a the designer dogs, that are actually just mixed breeds) are a much larger part of the problem.  I think the show dogs get picked on because the breeders seem to be a little obsessed, often to the point of absurd, because they are so dedicated to their cause, and they have the visibility.

    I am often asked why there are so many more problems in purebred dogs, and I started to wonder are there truly, or is it just easier to say – “…so many  xyz seem to have seizures or hip dysplasia.”   I see plenty of mixed breed dogs with hip dysplasia, epilepsy, allergies, etc.  It’s just more difficult to group them together.

    On a related topic…

    A good question to ask:  Why are shelters in the Northeast importing dogs from the Southern states?   

    Another:  If dogs are like children to people, why do people buy dogs over the internet sight unseen?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=755170304 Hurricana Maria

      Too many breeders in general. Be it backyard… puppy mills.. or also.. all these people who essentially act like they’re above everyone else.. and are special. Too many animals. What makes me mad.. they sell these pure breeds with paperwork, UNFIXED, thus perpetuating the issue. Its a cause of out of sight… out of mind. If people saw all the stacked dead cat and dogs bodies before they were incinerated/burned (some still alive) –maybe then, then they would care more… and hey.. take a few yrs off from breeding…. we have MORE than a surplus of animals. Its a business. An industry. And a horrible sport/novelty right now. Its like a pissing game. Would LOVE to see more people adopting. But, that might “inconvenience” folks.. and heck.. guess make them less special. HAPPY when animals get adopted and saved rather then murdered on account of there just being too many. Watch an increase in puppy mills catering to this “winning” breed now. Unfortunately, a reality. 

      • Wibblet68

        If a responsible breeder (like the majority of breeders behind the dogs at events like Westminster) sells a puppy, they do so with a legal contract.  If the dog is to be bred (if it’s show quality and achieves its championship AND passes all health clearances), the usually stipulate that the breeder must approve any future breeding.  The stipulate that the breeder must be informed if the owner moves or changes phone numbers.  And most importantly, they have a clause in there that should the dog ever need to be rehomed, for any reason, it comes BACK to the breeder.  Done right, the dog would never end up in a shelter.

        If a dog is deemed of “pet quality,” it’s placed on limited registration, which means its progeny can’t be AKC registered and it shouldn’t be bred–usually the pet owner agrees to have the dog spayed or neuteredl.

        The “stacks of bodies” are real, but I’d suggest their numbers are not being increased exponentially by real and caring breeders.  They are being increased by people who refuse or simply fail to have their pets spayed or neutered, or backyard breeders out to make a quick buck, or people who think it’s cute or necessary to breed “fluffy” because she’d make nice puppies or the kids would benefit from seeing a birth… 

      • Anonymous

        The problem is unplanned and unwanted litters.  If you took some time and got to know serious, responsible breeders who help with rescue, place their pups carefully on spay neuter contracts, and breed only when they have a waiting list, you might understand that the problem is irresponsible people.   

        Some people want a specific breed of dog, and for those people, a responsible breeder is the responsible choice.  It is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

      • By The Sea Dog Training

        Puppy mill is an animal activist prhase.  I really do think you need an education as far as GOOD breeders and dog shows are concidered and stop spreading Peta propaganda!

    • By The Sea Dog training

      mutts at Westminster huh??  I agree that some shouldn’t even see a show ring but to call them mutts isn’t right..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=755170304 Hurricana Maria


    Reality.. DEAD DOGS:http://petdefense.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/59-dead-dogs.jpgDEAD CATS:

    Info on puppy mills and the whole wonderful breeding industry:
    http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/puppy_mills/ 4-5 million + homeless cats and dogs killed EVERY YEAR in THIS COUNTRY ALONE. That is NOT OK. This is because of lack and spay and neuter (Breeders sell animals that are UNFIXED.. perpetuating the WHOLE PROBLEM) … lack of education… TOO many breeders…. “legitimate” ones… backyard breeders.. puppy mills… they are all to blame. Adopt. Adopt. Adopt.

    • Anonymous

      Maria, the problem is unplanned and unwanted litters, not too manyl litters.  Purebred puppies, promised before they are born to homes that are waiting for them, are not the problem.  And your typical show breeder places pets on spay/neuter contracts.  Legitimate breeders are not the issue.  They are, in fact, part of the solution.

  • Kfidei

    I think the AKC, along with all  its international counterparts, have perpetrated more atrocities against dogs than any other group.   The kennel club breed standards have encouraged selective breeding for single canine traits, usually to the great detriment of the animal.  Look at photographs of a dachshund or English bulldog from a century ago compared to a modern version of the breed, and you can see the damage done.  From King Charles Cavalier Spaniels with neurological damage from too small skulls, to bulldogs who must be delivered by Caesarean because of the too large skulls, humans have done terrible things in the name of “purebreeding”.   

     The AKC could in one motion put an end to vast amounts of cruelty, if they chose.  The AKC could deny entry of ANY surgically altered dog into ANY AKC show, and lobby legislators to criminalize any surgical mutilations of dogs for appearance sake, such as ear and tail docking.   The AKC could accept only dogs with acceptably varied bloodlines, putting an end to industrial inbreeding, mother to son, grandmother to son and so on.  Instead the AKC remains mute on these topics, when not actually encouraging them.

    Dog shows promote and encourage the exploitation of animals, generating HUGE profits to breeders everywhere, no matter how unprincipled they are, from the elite breeder charging exorbitant sums for champions to the backyard breeders and puppymills, always ready to jump on the next hot breed, lots of money is made on the backs of our canine companions.  

    The author said that canine psychology is a new science, and we are only beginning to understand the depths of the canine mind and intelligence.  I think those who truly love dogs will be ashamed of way we have treated of them, when those results come in.

    I truly love dogs, and have rescued dogs for many many years now.   Because I love them, I will continue to rescue shelter dogs, and continue to try to educate people to the horros of the AKC and competitive dog shows. If you want a real dog show, go walk through the kennels at your local shelter.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=755170304 Hurricana Maria

      WELL SAID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

    • Anonymous

      AKC doesn’t set the breed standards – the breed clubs do. 

      The average champion show dog is a pet, not an asset that brings exorbitant sums.  Dog shows don’t generate huge profits.  Dog shows cost enthusiasts a great deal of money – they aren’t profitable, and show dog breeding is not profitable.  Perhaps if you’d listen to the show, or read the book, you’d have more accurate informatino.

      I have rescued dogs for many years.  I have shown dogs for many years.  A higher percentage of show dog people do rescue than the general public.

      I believe you are sincere, but you don’t know what you are talking about.

    • By The Sea Dog Training

      you really have NO clue..  the BREED CLUBS set the standards for the dogs not the AKC..  competitve shows is FUN! I have shown dogs my entire life, I have shown MANY breeds and am in the proccess of buying my own show dog with health garentees, a PEDIGREE, and matches his standard perfectly.. Do yours have a health garentee??

      Have you ever even been to a dog show?? highly doudt it. You sound like an animal rights activist!!

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  • your listener

    I hate dog & cat shows, or any shows exploiting animals for commercial profits, self profit and ego, most wasteful effort.

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Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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