Back in the middle of the last century, I was a kid just starting out with purebred dogs. In those days we didn’t have the internet, we had books and magazines and wonderful people we called mentors with whom we would communicate by mailing letters across the country then waiting days or even weeks for a reply. Eager to learn everything I could about my chosen breed, I spent innumerable hours reading articles, writing questions, studying diagrams and putting hands on all the neighborhood dogs then watching them move in comparison to my mental notes. As a newcomer, I longed to breed my first litter of truly quality puppies, and watch them develop into the fine examples of the breed my carefully researched selection would insure.
What I kept reading, hearing, and being told somewhat emphatically was that to be a truly reputable breeder, I had to exhibit my dogs in shows. Of course I wanted to be a reputable breeder of quality dogs, so of course I went off the shows. I dutifully entered my dogs and learned to present them respectably. In those early days, the shows were an additional opportunity to learn more about the breed from some of the other exhibitors, and that broadened my letter writing somewhat.
The shows themselves, however, were never quite my cup of tea. Not only am I innately devoid of having a competitive bone in my body, but I always failed to ultimately understand how putting breeders in competition with each other was supposed to be conducive to bringing them together in support of the breed as a whole. In other words, How is it that an all out battle to insure that MY dog comes out on top translates to the stated purpose of “comparing potential breeding stock to insure the maintaining of the best of breed quality”? Observing the shows themselves did nothing to help convince me this was what was happening. Yes, good dogs won, garnered titles, and were bred. Additionally, not so good dogs won, garnered titles, and were bred. As well, good and not so good dogs failed to win enough to garner titles, and most were bred nonetheless.
So why show dogs?
These days, showing dogs has become a hobby sport for people of every description and determination.
Competition in any venue, after all, attracts participants, and it is a simple fact that most people enjoy competing. While there is nothing particularly “wrong” with that, it indisputably calls into question whether any true reputability is actually demonstrated by the mere participation in what has become something far different from a genuine comparison of potential breeding stock. Yet the stigma of a breeder who declines to make regular appearances at shows still remains.