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It is a dog show not a fashion show but whether you are an owner or professional handler, what to wear is important so let’s talk about dog show outfits.


Barbara "BJ" Andrews, SAAB Member

January 10, 2024


What is your favorite color and fabric for dog show clothes? Tell us on our facebook page but first, consider this… The DOG is most important but in a big entry YOU also have to get noticed by the judge.



Dog show judges get tired, out of sorts or distracted and if it’s a major, there are other great dogs in the ring… so, you have to be competent but above all, you need to project confidence to get noticed and your dog fairly considered!


You know you’ve got the best dog but the judges don’t yet know that (smile) so you’ve got to “show” him or her something special, something that projects confidence.


Having held numerous dog show records, I’ll share a secret with you. While sorting an overstuffed closet, I realized that white slacks outnumbered blue jeans. That reminded me of my dog show days as an owner-handler.


Professional handlers usually wear dark colors, heavily patterned so as not to show stains or dog hair and female handlers wore skirts. In white slacks, I looked amateurish, like “a newbe” in the lineup and most judges barely glanced at my dog in the lineup.


But then, when they saw that dog perform, they recognized quality - and felt a little guilty for mentally excluding it on the lineup. Subconsciously, they “owed” my dog a better look. Even judges who were said to be political or who didn’t always recognize breed quality knew “that owner handler who wears white” should be considered.


Okay, that was decades ago and today’s AKC judges are under even more political pressure if they want perks and peachy assignments but there’s a message here…


Lina BasquetteMagazine advertising is effective and today, essential, but breed type, movement and ring presence still rules and it is a dog SHOW. My advice is to show a dog with all of the above but be a bit flamboyant and exude confidence in what you’re doing. One of my mentors was Lina Basquette and indeed, I learned a lot from her…


If you are a successful pro-handler you already know most of this but today the owner-handler needs more than a great dog to win. Start out showing to All-Breed or multi-group judges who are secure in their knowledge AND only beholden to their craft. Most judges do a good job in the breed ring classes but winning Best Of Breed can be chancy for an owner handler.


Why? Because judges seek judging assignments either for advancement (more breeds) or income or simply because they LOVE dogs and dog shows. The first two are most common because awarding top ranked, known dogs is considered safe.


Sorry, got side-tracked so let’s get back to dog show clothes starting with fabric that easily sheds dog hair and stains. That means we eliminate natural fabrics such as wool which grabs hair. Silk is classy and expensive but with care, it is practical because dog hair doesn’t stick to silk.


The same is true of satin which is less costly but shiny… The point is, with either fabric, dog hair, from Pointer to Poodle, blows right off with a blow-dryer.


Owner or professional handler, what is your favorite dog show fabric and colors? Tell us on facebook. EST 2002 © Jan 2024



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