Your Dog at the dog show

It is the Endeavor of every breeder to reproduce dogs which approach as nearly as possible the ideal described in the standard. To what extent these endeavors are successful can be seen at dog shows where the external appearance of the dog is evaluated by qualified judges.

In individual countries, shows are organized by the governing bodies for dog breeding such as the kennel club in Great Britain. On the European continent, in Latin America and parts of Africa where the dog breeding authorities belong to the FCI (federation Cynologique intenationale), regional, national, special and international shows are held under FCI rules.

Almost everywhere breeds are separated for show purposes into two main divisions: Sporting and Non-sporting breeds, the former covering Hounds, Gundogs and Terriers, the latter Utility, working and toy dogs. In the case of each breed there are further sub-divisions according to sex, age, whether they have passed certain tests, holders of titles and so on. In Britain, under Kennel club rules, only the best dogs in each class receive acknowledgement whereas, under FCI rules, every dog exhibited is given a mark : Excellent, for the best, Very Good, Good and so on. At some shows the title ‘Class Victor’ is also given to the best dog and bitch of each breed may be given the CACIB award (Certificat d’Aptitude au Championat International de Beaute). A dog or bitch which receives the required number of CACIB awards in the course of not less than one year, from different judges and in different countries, can become an International Champion’.

A similar rule applies to championship shows held in Britain under Kennel Club regulations. A dog has to be awarded three challenge certificates under three different judges to become a champion. Only dogs which are former champions or which have won first or second place at championship show are eligible to appear at Britain’s supreme dog show – Crufts.

Titles are noted in the dog’s pedigree as are marks awarded in FCI countries, with the result that the dog concerned and his or her progeny becomes more valuable.

Getting ready for a show:
If a dog is to do well at a show it musty is in what is termed ‘show condition’. That means it must be in good health and well muscled, neither too fat nor too thin. It must be well cared for which means, among other things, that its coat must be well prepared. Getting a dog ready for a show should start at least three months ahead and, in the case of long – or rough-haired dogs, even earlier.

When preparing for a show begin by seeing that the dog is correctly nourished and that its coat is growing as it should. The dog must be groomed daily with a metal comb. Short-haired and some long-haired dogs require daily brushing to remove the dying hair undercoat and moutling hairs on the surface so that the coat lies correctly. This regular massaging of the skin promotes new growth.

For the majority of short-haired breeds this is enough, though from time to time the dog should be bated and washed in warm water. Use a good mild soap or shampoo and afterwards rinse the dog thoroughly with clean water and dry it well.

The coats of long-haired breeds require additional care so that the elegance of certain parts of the body will be shown off to best advantage and so that the dog will conform to the required. Setters, hunting spaniels, German pointers and Wachtelhunds (German spaniels) for example usually require nothing more than to have overlong and moulting hair stripped with the fingers from those parts of the body for which the standard requires shorter hair. Scissors should be used to tidy up long hair from around the feet so that these acquire the desired shape. Bathing long-haired dogs demands particular care. Bathing dries up the oil from the coat and makes it fluffy and unmanageable so that it curls or becomes too wavy. A long-haired dog should therefore be bathed not less than a week before the show so that there is enough time for the coat to be brushed and combed in the right direction and to settle down.

Similar care should be devoted to rough-haired dogs, but most of them need their coats trimmed and tailored to give them the typical form and appearance.
The exhibitor must choose the right time to start work on preparing the coat so that on the day of the show it is off the prescribed length and texture on individual parts of the body.

The coat is dealt with either by clipping or stripping. The method used is dependent on the texture of the coat as laid down in the standard. Various tools are necessary such as dog clippers, stripping knives, scissors and metal combs.

A dog can be stripped only when its coat is ripe for it, that is to say when it begins to moult. At this stage so that it reaches the length required by the standard for different parts of the body at exactly the right time. Stripping cannot be replaced by clipping because clipping makes the hair soft and causes it to lose its characteristic texture. The timing of the various stages is individual, depending on how quickly each dog’s coats of others grow quickly. The directions that follow for preparing the coats of several breeds are therefore only approximate and the rate at which the coat grows must be ascertained individually for each dog.