Laura: Like most that the comments above reveal, I am leaning very much to
showing mostly at UKC shows. I have been showing dogs for 46 years
and have never been so disheartened with the AKC shows. I have
always shown my own dogs and truly love showing dogs. Through the
years I have won in the group ring, National Specialties, etc. but
it’s really difficult today for an owner handler, regardless of the
quality of the dogs, to win. Personally I cannot afford the time or
money for serious advertising, top handlers or attending shows
weekend and week out. No matter how good your dog is, if you do not
advertise, hire top handlers you are not going to win most of the
It is said that judges put handlers up because, after all, that’s
how they make their living. I have nothing against handlers. I don’t
blame them, I blame the inferior judges. The dogs that are the top
winners are the dogs that will produce the next generations of
purebred dogs. If showing dogs is just a political game and held
mainly for the benefit of professional handlers and the owners who
can afford to promote their dogs in the manner that is necessary
today, then what’s the point?
I know that there are excellent breeders who use great handlers,
advertise and have wonderful dogs who deserve the wins, but there is
no way that the percentage of the group and BIS wins that go to the
professionals means the dogs they show are that much better than the
breeder/owner/handled dogs. Perhaps it’s time to have non-pro
shows/classes and open shows/classes.
The AKC has not done enough to protect the breeders of purebred dogs
from the animal rights movement. In many places it’s almost
impossible for small hobby breeders to operate. I am afraid that in
the future, the only breeders will be the large commercial
operations. That is very sad. In my opinion I think the AKC should
spend most of the money it takes in to fight these organizations
legally or else we won’t have to worry about the dog shows as there
won’t be anyone left to participate.
Becky: I am so tired of the AKC asking for more money to fight Anti-Dog
Legislation when they have huge Corporate office in Manhattan! Why
not move ALL the offices to New Jersey & cut down on the overhead?
Why do the officers of the AKC get such big salaries?
Something needs to be done about the judging & judges at AKC shows.
Yes the professionals are favored by the judges. Most handlers do a
better job of presenting a dog to the judge & can make a bad dog
look better than the good dogs. But not all.
Money talks in the show ring. The dogs with the ‘Big money Backers’,
do most of the winning. Very rarely do you see a dog go BIS that
didn’t have BACKER?
When I enter a show I look at the Judging History of the judges for
the weekend. There are many judges I will never show to. Several
reasons, they don’t know the Standard, they are rough on the dogs,
they only put up their friends, they only put up wpemen, they only
put up gay men.
Mariko: As an owner/breeder/handler, I found it necessary to have a handler
on my Special. I have received group placements while handling, but
never a Group 1, as has my handler. I do believe that sometimes a
handler can do a better presentation, but overall the handlers have
the eye of the judges. I believe as breeders we have to breed
better, to have more competitive dogs, and we all certainly work
harder than any professional handler. If you wish to make money, it
cannot be done with well bred, health tested, and well cared for
dogs – this is a passion for your chosen breed. A “Limited” class is
only going to point the current divide of the breed type vs. the
handlers’ “show” dogs. There are some good judges, great judges, and
those who are in it for their own egos. I will not pay to have the
latter’s opinion in the ring. The bbreed standards have been so
homogenized, I think some judges feel free to make their own
At my local shelter we have a majority of mixed breeds, if there are
ever any “purebreds” those are obvious back yard or poorly bred
dogs. I have yet to see and groom a well bred dog, thank goodness.
Sydney Morgan: AKC IS THE PROBLEM. ALL needed changes are needed to be made BY AKC.
FIRST, AKC needs to re-prioritize. If priorities are aligned
properly, the $$$ will follow. AKC needs to elevate the altitude of its attitude toward the Hobby
Breeder instead of trying to abandon the Hobby Breeder as they have
in the recent past by getting in bed with large pet stores for the
sole purpose of increasing registrations. That, alone, says volumes
about AKC’s REAL priority, which we all know is $$$$. In this, they
are no different and no better than HSUS.
SECOND, AKC needs to provide a system for exhibitors to file
complaints against judges, providing photos to substantiate
erroneous or political decisions. I have a long-haired breed that is
NOT to be cut, yet every dog that wins has blatantly obviously cut
coats. Consequently, those who following the standard, lose.
THIRD, AKC needs to find a way to stop the politics. As an example,
a person in my breed has been showing for many years and always wins
in their home state. Someone there told me they saw this person give
a judge a card before that judge was to judge groups. That same
individual won the group….. No one minds losing to a better dog. The
breeders of this breed in that state no longer show AKC, because
they know they have lost before they pay their entry fee. This is
not good for the breed. This creates a special hardship in western
states as those breeders only have about 6 shows available to them
per year, and even those require travel, lodging, and food expenses.
FOURTH, AKC needs to require judges to write a written critique of
the dogs they are judging as they do in Europe and Canada. It’s not
so easy to make a political decision when you have to back it up in
FIFTH, AKC needs to provide local advertising for all AKC kennel
club dog shows.
SIXTH, AKC needs to provide a step-by-step dog show manual for all
AKC kennel clubs to give them the tools to ensure the public
attending can find all of the events and schedules, as well as
understand the schedules.
The Hobby Breeder dedicates their blood, sweat, and real tears for
the love of their dogs and their breed. They spend their own
hard-to-earn money for quality foods and supplements, vet bills,
health-testing ($200+/test), training classes, travel expenses, and
grooming equipment/supplies. Think about the income from 1 puppy
compared to the above costs. Most of the support for these dogs
comes not from the puppy income, but first from the heart and then
the pocketbook of the Hobby Breeder.
Commercial Breeders are profitable businesses constantly checking
the bottom line. Quality food, vets, health-testing, training
classes, travel expenses and, as we all know, grooming
equipment/supplies, do not appear on their Cost of Doing Business
lists. Nor do they spend dedicated time socializing and potty
training their puppies. And they certainly don’t provide the
unsuspecting public with a 2-year, 5-year, or lifetime genetic
If AKC continues to climb in bed with the commercial side of dog
breeding and showing, and start helping and supporting the Quality
(Hobby) Breeders, the quality pure bred dog will be extinct in
America. If the Quality (Hobby) Breeders can spend so much of their
own time, love, devotion to the dogs, certainly AKC could freeze the
enormous salaries for a year or two and shovel some of that excess
fat into doing what’s right!
AnnMarie Saunier: As a breeder I do not sell to anyone who is not willing to return
the dog if the situation occurs. I feel that it is the
responsibility of the breeder to be responsible for the life of any
puppies produced. I do show and have been very frustrated when a
lesser dog wins over one of mine. This will hapen in any venue but I
have in the past few years shown my dogs more with the United Kennel
Club than the American Kennel Club. Why because it is on fair
playing ground for the most part. Yes there are politics and there
always will be but I can win more often and have more Chapions and
not spend a fortune. With AKC you have to have a professional
handler what fun is that and it will cost between 2,000. and 10,000
just to finish a dog. I finished 5 dogs for 10,000 with the UKC in
2010 and had 5 dogs in the top ten. That is a big difference and it
was fun. I was inspected by the AKC twice last year. No I had no
problems and passed with flying colors but when I asked about how
they chse they told me they only go to new breeders and I have been
breeding since 1986. I also asked if there was a way to give them a
heads up on kennels they should be inspecting and they flat out told
me no. So do they really care about the way animals are cared for
because I DO.
Loretta Tully: Showing has become a sport only for the rich . The AKC does nothing
to see that judges are following the standard when they judge dogs
to be winners. I think that should be the AKC’s main duty. If I
believe in and breed and show according to the standard I expect to
be rewarded. Instead I have seen that the handlers win with dogs
that are very inferior to mine (or other owner handlers) and it is
disheartening. To me the AKC has become more like the HSUS, more
interested in having money to pay their salaries than in upholding
the standards for each breed. It is a sad day for those who really
love their breed. And they wonder why the average person quits
showing after 5 years…Duh!
Tam: I think the system of awarding judging assignments needs to change.
The good ol boy system needs to change as well as the handlers. If
all the judges names in a given breed were put into a hat and chosen
at random rather than by a show committee it would go a long way.
There also need to be amateur division and a pro division just like
in golf and tennis. Of course, for those of you who know me,I think
Best of Breed should be the ultimate win. Eliminate Groups, BIS, and
the infernal rankings.
Kathy Graves: Why are so many purebreds in shelters? Are there? Please provide verified numbers before making these
How to get the public to dog shows again? I’m not sure that the public finds dog shows relevant any more. If
you don’t know what’s going on the judging process is baffling and
boring to JQP. If Westminster were broadcast without the hoopla and
expert/entertaining commentary it would be a bust.
Are there no longer big wins for the average breeder? I don’t think so, at least in AKC. Heck the Bred By awards at Euk
always go to some big hat breeder who is often a pro handler as
well. The “average” breeder can’t afford the $$$$$$$ needed to
promote their dogs so the ex pro handler judges will know which dogs
to put up. UKC is a whole ‘nuther matter which is why I only show
conformation in UKC. My homebred/owner handled dogs have
consistently been in Top Ten and winning Top Ten BOB since the breed
has been eligible for Top Ten ranking.
Do Judges care less about adjudicating quality purebreds than
patronizing handlers? Duh! When every judge on a panel is an ex pro handler what do you
expect? Hobby breeders don’t have the time or $$$$ to pursue a
What should AKC do to promote well bred purebreds? Spend as much money on well produced ads promoting purebreds as the
shelter industry spends on commercials promoting the PCness of
buying dogs from shelters. Tell the public that purebred working
dogs are leading the blind, saving lives in the police and military
fields, finding disaster victims, etc. Make companion events way
more average dog/owner friendly. Promote the advantages of knowing
what you are getting when you buy a dog.
How to get the public to dog shows again? Are there no longer big
wins for the average breeder? Do Judges care less about adjudicating
quality purebreds than patronizing handlers? What should AKC do to
promote well bred purebreds?
Dolores: The new AKC program, The OWNER HANDLER SERIES, that chooses one dog,
owner handler ,non-professional , to be awarded the Best of it’s
breed to go forward to Group and then BIS judging, is a step in the
right direction. Only AKC has it backwards. THE ONE CLASS SHOULD BE
FOR T HE PROFESSIONAL HANDLERS AGAINST EACH OTHER, NOT THE OWNER
HANDLERS. We would then see who the best PROFESSIONAL handler is and
they might even have the best dogs, BUT MAYBE NOT, And the owner
handler winning dogs should be entitled to the same number of points
toward the dog’s title. The article is correct that pros should only
compete against pros and owner handlers that are not taking money
for showing their dogs, should compete only against other owner
More people are getting smart and showing their dogs in UKC. where
NO PROFESSIONAL HANDLERS ARE ALLOWED TO SHOW.
Martha: Many judges are former professional handlers. And they ‘reward’
their friends who are handlers, or they ‘reward’ people from clubs
who get them assignments – judges need to return to the days of
judging the dogs correctly, according to the AKC standard.
I began showing almost 35 years ago, when there were few
professional handlers in the ring. I saw so many great dogs at that
time. Now, in many breeds, my humble opinion is that the quality of
some breeds has suffered in proportion to the number of professional
I have heard handlers laugh that they can finish dogs, no matter how
bad they are, and if someone has a bad dog, bring it to them and pay
them the big bucks and they will put a championship on it.
I have heard at least 2 dog owners through the years who won ONE
show, say “oh, now I can breed him/her because I know they have the
quality”, when, in fact, their dog did not have good quality, it was
just handled by a professional. Those dogs never won another show,
and were never finished as champions. Breeding them did nothing but
hurt the quality of the breeds they represented.
AKC has copied UKC on a number of things through the years. The
grand championship and the Reserve Best in Show, to name two. They
need to coy them in not allowing professional handlers to show dogs,
so that the DOGS are being judged.
Judges need to be encouraged, no – required, to judge to the AKC
conformation standard for the individual breeds and to NOT give
ribbons to dogs they feel are inferior.
Many of the old time breeders who tried so hard to breed correct
dogs, have left the fancy due to losing to inferior dogs, handled by
professionals. Or have left when it became apparent that many judges
are putting up inferior dogs, and ignoring correct dogs. It is
expensive and frustrating to continue trying to breed correct, just
to lose. One person said they were actually told by a competitor
that “maybe you should breed what the judges are putting up” rather
than breeding to the standard, if you want to win. How sad is that?
And what a sad commentary on the AKC.
Any more there are a number of us who are beginning to prefer to
show in UKC shows if there are both in the area at the same time.
Karen: There have been many suggestions but the problem is getting AKC to
listen. I have suggested that new judges have to critique their provisional breeds. This should teach them to use the standard and
be familiar with by using its terminology. It would tell the
breeders if the Judge has potential as this breeds judge and if they
need to go back to school. The problem is AKC. They need to change.
Tam: Incorrect. Most dogs are labeled, by people who proudly state ” they
don’t know a cocker from a brittany” as purebred. Most are mixed
breeds, not only two but many mixtures. Many are also maladjusted.
As purebred fanciers we have a responsibility to make purebreds
visible. Show in obedience. Take your dog out and about in town.
Show your expertise by teaching free and open access obedience
classes. When others see how the purebreds perform they will be
Fred Lanting: I’ve been in purebred dogs since 1937, a breeder about a decade
later, an exhibitor/competitor for ages, and a judge since 1977. I
think there are a number of factors causing dog ownership (and
registration) to decline relative to human population. First,
economic… more households where both “parents” need to work to keep
up with rising costs and the Joneses, less money and physical space
in living quarters (cities replacing rural/suburban life. Second,
government pressures such as local restrictive laws passed by
non-doggie politicians who want to run other people’s lives. I have
seen the same decrease overseas (I have judged in some 30
countries). Similarly, lack of available space, insurance
requirements, plus more municipal restrictions make it expensive and
difficult to put on dog shows. Additionally, the nature of shows
(competition) leads to dog owners/competitors forgetting the other
reason shows got started: exhibition. It started by a bunch of good ol’ boys getting together to have a tankard and show each other what
a nice hunting dog each had. In the beginning, it was all about
utility… which farmer had the best sheepdog or hunting dog. Now, it
is mostly which foo-foo dog looks prettiest and complements the
owner-handler’s spiffy outfit (except, thankfully, some clubs like
non-AKC GSD specialties and the UKC shows (which discourage
professionalism of the business type, and stress fun and the dog
instead). Fred Lanting — Mr.GSD @ juno.com
Denise: Shelters? Most of the dogs are puppy mill purebreds. Dog shows are
boring and you can’t ever find the breed you’re looking for. Maybe it is better to go to the shelter.