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Wake Up, AKC!

by on January 4, 2012
by Dr. Gail Clark

Where have all the dogs gone… long time passing, where have all the breeders/owner handlers gone, long time ago, gone to other playing fields one and all!

As the economy declined and the cost of living and travel expenses rose, the presence of Professional Handlers increased in the AKC class competition for championship points. The playing field in the class competition changed from the occasional hired handler in the open class to sometimes as many as five professional handlers in the puppy and open classes! Popular Professional Handlers are walking in the ring and winning, often on the first time out, with puppies that haven’t shown previously and dogs that owners have shown unsuccessfully for sometimes as long as 2 years. Can this sudden success be a coincidence where these veteran show dogs have suddenly blossomed or a judge breaks precedence in awarding points to puppies just as a renowned professional handler has a spot available to show them?  Some blame the politics and others, mostly judges, rationalize that top Professional Handlers only show quality dog clients and have the experience to superbly present a dog in a way that minimizes their faults. When money and clients were plentiful, and the Professional Handlers only dominated the Best of Breed Class, there probably was a time top Professional Handlers were more discriminate in the clients they chose. In a depressed economy Professional Handlers must either cut costs or increase business to maintain their income so choosing only the top quality dogs to show may be a luxury of the past.

You might also want to read this article discussing AKC conformation classes and the competition between Breeders/Owners/Handlers and Professional Handlers.
Where Have All The Show Dogs Gone?

Breeders are also looking to cut costs, and hiring the biggest name in professional handling to finish a championship in a few shows on a dog that hasn’t been winning, is a win situation for both Handler and Breeder. Unfortunately, what may be a win for the Handler and Breeder may be a serious disservice to the future generations of our breeds. When championship points are awarded because of who is showing instead of the merits and quality of the dog, our future generations will inherit the faults so expertly disguised. The Professional Handler who dazzled the judge with a superb presentation will be long forgotten and the faults will live on. Breeders produce their stock from the show winners. Choosing the winning dogs based on the Professional Handler who is hired help and not committed to the advancement of the client’s breed can often propagate changes in the breed that may not be easily repaired. For example, when judges chose the larger specimens for the Winners circle, breeders will follow the current winning trend and larger dogs are bred for the show ring. The trend for the larger dog in many breeds generally does not maximize function and structural health. Judging the wrong end of the lead is committing a very serious injustice to the purebred dog.

While Breeder/owner handlers have long accepted the “political” ambiance toward the Professional Handler in the AKC Best of Breed ring, breeders were content playing in their own league for points. The class competitors were for the most part equally unknown to the judges and the dogs were judged on their own merits, not the Handler on the end of the lead. As the number of Professional Handlers increased in the classes, many breeder/owners did the math and found competing against the familiar face that shows up at all the best dog shows in town, winning under the same judges, is financially unfeasible. AKC is feeling the financial strain as many exhibitors realize the futility of showing in an increasingly political playing field.

New registrations in AKC are declining with the number of Owner Handlers leaving the show arena. Breed Clubs are having difficulty breaking even financially with holding AKC breed shows because of the drop in exhibitors over the last couple of years. The world of dog shows, as we have known it for over 100 years has changed. As breeders realize AKC Championships can be bought with the right Professional Handler, the AKC title is becoming less prestigious and coveted. The majority of puppy buyers in the general public no longer care if their puppy’s parents are Champions, let alone AKC Champions. For those who do want to buy from Champion lines, the Internet offers a huge selection of puppies for sale from UKC, CKC, and International Dog Show Champion parents.
In an attempt to recover from the financial impact of the economy and decreasing entries and registrations, AKC has exacerbated the problem by not supporting the Breeder/Owners, the faction that makes up the entries and registrations. AKC is moving in the wrong direction for their financial health by endorsing Professional Handlers with badges they may wear in the ring to identify themselves to the judges and bogus Amateur Classes to identify those that are not Professional Handlers.

What was AKC thinking? If AKC’s intent was to even the playing field for more Sport, a Professional Handler Class should have been created instead of the Amateur Class. Professional Handlers would be restricted to the Professional Class or the Best of Breed Class. The new playing field would consist of one Handler in the Winners Class competing against all the class winners that were chosen on their merits. For those judges that continued to judge the Handlers and reward presentation, the records would reflect their preferences by the wins from the Handler class. Breeders/Owners could choose which shows and judges were financially feasible to enter under instead of quitting over the politics.

So where have all the Breeder/Owner Handlers gone, long time ago? So where have all the dogs gone, long time passing? At one time, AKC was the only game in town for the prestigious Championship. The purist and traditionalist breeder/owners are leaving competition or searching for more equitable venues like UKC where Professional Handlers are excluded unless they are showing their own dogs. Until now the UKC, International Dog shows, and our neighboring countries, Mexico and Canada who hire the same AKC approved judges for their shows have not been a serious rivalry for AKC. Unless AKC wakes up and becomes committed to creating an environment that supports Breeder/Owners who generate all the AKC registrations and entries other venues such as UKC will become a strong force as an alternative to AKC. The future of our AKC dogs is dependent on unbiased judging and honest evaluations based on the quality of our stock, not who is on the end of the lead.

You might also want to read this article discussing AKC conformation classes and the competition between Breeders/Owners/Handlers and Professional Handlers.
Where Have All The Show Dogs Gone?

From → Barks & Bites

38 Comments
  1. Micha Elliott permalink

    The problem I see is that quite often professionals show the dog to its full advantage, faults included. I have seen owner handlers with exquisite dogs that have them standing to be judged with their feet askew, their toplines sagging, even tho they have good structure. I believe a good handler can spot for each dog how they look their best and get them to show that way. Not to mention, groom them to bring out the best virtues. Some owners just don’t have an eye for that.

    • Judge them moving like they’re supposed to…a bad topline can be stacked out as well as a bad front. A good dog should be found regardless.

  2. Pat permalink

    I am a breeder/handler…been one for years. The game is stacked against us folks. No handler is going to take my dog in the ring and make it look any better or worse…the dogs stand on their own merit….I have seen very poor dogs with handlers be pointed…the others in the class were barely looked at….thank god for other venues to show our dogs…The AKC has become a game of politics…and money and advertising…can you justify spending four thousand dollars to showcase you and your dog in a magazine….and doing those ads over and over again so everyone who is not educated in your breed sees this and thinks, wow, must be a great team……think again…some of those dogs in the ads do not stand up to the breeds standard…photoshop can do wonders. My dogs win on their merit, and I have to be satisfied with that…

  3. I agree some professionals can get the most out of the dog. Judges should know enough about the breeds to ask to see the dog stack and move naturally.
    Far too often the pros show every breed the same, and perpetuate generic show dog winning. Not to the benefit of the breed. Compounding all this are the AKC Reps, former handlers who do all in their power to ‘guide’ judges to putting up the ‘right’ dog

  4. Denbie permalink

    Everything in this article is true. I agree. Wake up, AKC.

  5. Great article. One element also missing is Judges’ Education: the judge needs to KNOW the standard of the breed in the ring. That includes size. Often judges cannot spot a better moving dog with shorter (standard) size, and will put a bigger dog up, thinking it moves better…while it only has longer legs! This pushes the problem up to the Group Ring, too..where the smaller breeds, and breeds without dramatic grooming and style have a hard time. This article also did not mention the push from the “designer dog” breeders. Many great families are convinced by advertising that only a Labradoodle or Puggle will suit their family. As an AKC breeder/exhibitor, a pet owner, a professional groomer, I’m sure this is not true. Purebred dogs can be the best of dogs.

  6. Ann permalink

    The fact remains though that some of us are unable to show our own dogs. So, do we try to recruit a friend who is also trying to show their own dog or find a handler that we know and trust to do what we can’t? The choice is obvious to me.

    • Taria Sarkisian permalink

      Learn to show your own dog like I did. This is my first show dog, and I finished him before he was 11 months old myself, I went to handling classes and the pro handlers that like us gave us tips. There’s no excuse for being to lazy or busy to learn, I work more hours and make less money then I have in 18 years so no matter how tired I am or how little sleep I’ve had I know if I want to finish my dog I have to put in the time. Int’ Nat’ & Am CH + 3 obedience titles so far and he’s not a year old yet.

  7. Andy Flachs permalink

    I disagree my parents were owner handlers and they did very well in the spring. Check out Sleepytime dachshunds she us a owner handler showing her own dogs.

  8. Diane P Steele permalink

    Wow, where do I begin. I’ve been showing for 35 years and I was once a breeder owner handler. I was told by my breeders that if I wanted to win, I needed to be in there every weekend. Well I did that, never missing one show in our area and did not handle professionally for about 10 years. I got to watch many professionals, top breeders, and some judges competing in the “classes” along with Best of Breed.

    I wanted to be the winner and became excited with that 1st place ribbon in the puppy class over the professional. Soon that was not enough and I wanted that purple ribbon. Then another breeder saw a dog and told that owner that she should ask me if I would show it.

    Time past and many shows later I campaigned 15 Champions Collies to #1 with 23 Best In Shows with 6 collies in two different varieties.

    I don’t think I ever felt it was political and I truly enjoyed trying to beat (and usually did) the predicted winner. This did not happen because of politics, it happened because I practiced 3-4 days a week, every week, and always found something I could have done better if I lost. If you believe that it is always political, because we groom them better and present them better, maybe you should try to do the same. By being in the ring so often, we also make sure that when the judge is looking at our exhibit looks it’s best. Our dogs are clean, their teeth are clean, they are worm free and grow the nicest coats because of that.

    I need to mention, I started in 1979, did not have any family in the sport and received the reputation of success because I know how to select the right dog to present, not the judges. I do not show to judges who are blatant in their selections but to judges that try hard to understand and properly evaluated their entry. I always say thank you no matter what color my ribbon is and I never go back and blast a judge for a job poorly done.

    Maybe while you are critizing the AKC for their judges you should honestly evaluate the way you show dogs, your selection of what should be in the ring and when and if you are paying as much attention to your dog as you are to others in the ring.

    Your request for a professional class for professionals along with the Best Of Breef class, only calls more attention to each group and loses focus on the dogs. After all, are we judging people and not dogs.

    • Rick Zahorchak permalink

      Well said Diane, so far your comment is the only one that I would agree with……

  9. Let me extend this a little farther, and use some traditional economic theory to explain and take to it’s logical conclusion.

    We have more shows than ever before. While my stepson was growing up, I started using a handler; even she complains that in order to have a #1 dog (not me, different client), she travels 45-48 weekends/year. And it’s no longer weekends – shows start on Thursday and go through Monday, so that she returns early Monday morning, washes, re-packs, and leaves on Tuesday or Wednesday for the next weekend!

    We have fewer all-breed judges than any time in the history of AKC, and more shows – especially small shows on the weekdays. Many of our all-breed judges now consider judging to be a significant source of income – because they can. In order to draw an entry on those weekday shows, those judges need the professional handlers to turn those $250,000 big rigs in their direction (because the backbone of the sport, the owner/handler, works or has children in school or both on weekdays). The handler travels for priority clients and majors; they won’t go if they don’t believe they can win. For the judge to maximize their income, they need the handler; ergo, the handler wins.

    Experienced owner/handlers who show specials know that if they’re not in the Group on Thursday or Friday, their chances of winning BOB or placing in the Group on Saturday drop significantly. This isn’t speculation; it’s truth (and I’ve used it to my advantage dozens of times) – just look at the placements over a cluster weekend.

    I’m a judge. I’m here to tell you that while I certainly have dogs in my ring that I really like and have used before, I have no idea in advance what I’m going to do on the day. Dogs change, conditioning changes, a new dog walks into my ring that is stunning. That, for me, is why I love judging; it’s the search for the perfect dog, and when I find a new one, I am beyond excited. I remember a puppy I gave a 5 point major on a specialty weekend (owner handler, and not a bloodline I traditionally like); that puppy is a spectacular adult, and every time I hear about a new win, I smile and remember that gorgeous baby.

    When I watch the actions and expressions of some of my fellow judges, I no longer see this anticipation and enthusiasm; it’s become a job – and not a joy. (And, yes, not all judge’s wear their emotions on their sleeve – though since we do expert witness work, I’m accustomed to reading it in their faces, not just their smiles – and it’s just not there). What excitement is there in rewarding the same 4-6 dogs every day of a 5 day weekend? Someone explain to me how, in a 500 dog Terrier Group, 4-5 different judges always fall back on the same 6 dogs?

    I don’t accept that as real. That’s taking the easy road. With some notable exceptions, how many dogs REALLY deserve 100 Group placements in a year? And how is it that those dogs are always shown by handlers? (Ability to devote 100% to showing, of course, but still…)

    That makes no sense whatsoever – especially when all you have to do is talk to 4-6 specialists in any one of those breeds, and 80% of the time they’ll disagree on the winner….

    I don’t believe that there’s a problem in judge’s education; I believe that many judges have an insecurity issue. They’re afraid to go with their gut, afraid to be different, afraid that by judging dogs they will lose assignments.

    I don’t see a way to fix it, but the problem is clear as day. We are living in a scene from The Emperor’s New Clothes. Everyone recognizes that change is needed, but no one wants to be the one to start. I just hope that by the time we do, there will still be shows to go to and dogs to be shown!

    • Rita, perfectly stated.

    • Taria Sarkisian permalink

      I love judges like you, they keep me in it. I just finished my first puppy on my own and for the most part had wonderful encouraging judges even if they didn’t put me up, then I had one judge that let me know I didn’t belong here, I was done, he took every bit of fun I was having out of it whether or not I was getting points, my friends talked me back into it and after some serious PTSD in several rings after I decided to just have fun and a couple weeks ago I finished my puppy, like a boss! I’d love to tell all the judges that were encouraging just how much I appreciate it. Boy it felt good to do it myself and the judge that gave me that last 4 point major looked as happy as I was. Thank you for being a still engaged judge, us noobs appreciate it.

  10. I think the first step would be to try to minimize the number and size of the clusters. AKC needs to stop approving shows for kennel clubs that are not in their area and limit each club to one show a year. As the writer above me explains so well..the clusters are designed so the handlers can set up in one place. If you had fewer, bigger, more important shows, entries would rise, and judges would take their responsibilities a lot more seriously.

    • Anne Clark permalink

      Glad you brought that up! I couldn’t agree more. My background with my breed started in the early 1970’s and with some time out for personal things, continues to this day. I still love my breed but am appalled at some of the shows I go to and the results posted. Some of this is due to the changes in the breed and some is the change in judges. It seems as though judges don’t ‘care’ as much as they used to and they seem to favour professional handlers more than amateurs or breeder-owners. Seems as though they are afraid to withhold awards for ‘want of merit’ and stand up for themselves and the breeds they are judging.

      Time for a change in attitude at the very least judges!

    • Re: clusters. I remember when they began — in the ’70s when gasoline prices were sky high. Gas was rationed in some places. As a breeder-owner-handler, I faced expenses that I couldn’t afford. The clustered shows were a godsend.

    • Valerie Davies permalink

      That won’t happen. The pro handlers will lose significant income, and so will the AKC.

  11. Sherry shivley permalink

    My Boxer needs a 3 point major to finish. AKC in their wisdom insists that CO stay in the same zone as TX. CO is lucky if 5 boxers total are shown! It’s frustrating that AKC won’t listen to our concerns. I have turned to UKC where the judges talk to us, and plan to show at the International show this spring.
    When you call with concerns about a breeder and AKC shows no interest their direction is loud and clear. Send money but don’t bother us with ethics.

  12. Chris permalink

    WOW!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Idea of a restrictive Pro Handler class!!!! What a great idea!

  13. Karolina A permalink

    or just lower the score on the overall evaluation..when it comes to handling… that way the dog was shown poor or excel by a pro.. his overall qualification is not greatly affected… or judges should stick more to their scoring segmentation… but is a very good point.. what Rita said. by the way I’m not AKC but FCI… but i don’t think we have that such big problem with pro handlers .. but rather entry and tittle expenses which can run from $80 to 125 per dog depending on the event .. i’m owner/breeder/handler..and handle my own dogs… we do just fine…

  14. I think that the possibility of holding two smaller all breed shows a day has a lot of merit, too. More points for the family show dog. At the same time (and I base this on my experience as a performance judge), I think you’ll see greater changes I the Group composition in each show. Dogs that win on showmanship won’t maintain that level at 2 shows per day. Entries of class dogs will increase due to the ability to earn two sets of points. Groups won’t hold the same level of importance if 23 had multiple Group rings at one time in order to move on to the next show; fewer opportunities for fellow judges to sit and chat and watch what their peers do (the safe road for the insecure judge).

    I live in the DFW area. There’s no reason why I didn’t have half of the Hound Group years ago (as is done in most countries). If the AKC pushed for more “specialist judges,” the pool would grow exponentially. There are easily 50 or more breeder judges in my area with the same skills. Maybe we don’t need to have 7 groups (I can’t think of many who should), but all of us would be very comfortable with a half or a whole Group. Get rid of airfare and hotel bills (and just pay mileage and meals and the$4/dog fee), and suddenly judges become a LOT more affordable, AND provide significantly more variety in judges.

    As a coursing judge, I have no trouble stating that I am a better judge at 9am than I am at 5pm. That’s reality, and eye and brain fatigue – and it applies to everyone, whether it be pilots or teachers or truck drivers. Hard concentration takes its toll. So why do we expect a 60 year old wo/man to start judging at 8am and still be a good judge in the BIS ring at 6pm? I live for the next great dog or great run; if I did it every day or for 8-10 hours a day week in or week out? That passion would dissipate, and judging would be rote, boring, and start to lose meaning. That’s simple human natur, and not a critique of an individual or a group of individuals.

    Add in one more reality, known of art history teachers, music history teachers, and purveyors of art, design, and music worldwide. The more we see/hear something, the more we like it. Political campaign managers know that elections are won on name recognition, and nothing more. Gallery owners know that the art they sell needs to look familiar, even while it is slightly different. Art history professors know that if they start a class with constant slideshows of modern art, students will start by hating it, and end by justifying all the reasons they like it – even if it’s crap.

    If you see a photo or style of dog over and over and over, you will start liking it. That’s the reason why, for so many of us, our first dog is the pattern by which we look at our breed for decades after.

    So a judge may not consciously “go bad,” but their eye, over time, may grow so accustomed to seeing a particular dog or a style of dog or breed grooming, that they eventually accept it as “good,” when in reality it’s just more frequent.

    More variety in judges provides more opinions; moving to more specialists helps ensure that those opinions are founded on education and knowledge. Dropping fees paid to any one judge ensures that judging remains a passion and avocation, and not a drudge job necessary to keep the electricity on.

    We need to bring back the passion for our sport, on every level. To do it effectively, it needs to start at the top, and it WILL trickle down to every aspect of the sport.

  15. I agree both with the article and with Rita’s comments. AL of that is why , after 48 years, I am no longer breeding or showing. Ithe just became not fun anymore.

  16. Helen permalink

    Breeders are not faultless in this process you describe. No one mentors anymore. We don’t actively encourage our best puppy owners to participate in becoming responsible breeders. The “me” generation is way too busy showing off and collecting ribbons.
    The attitude is that if it’s a champion it can and should be bred is also a problem. Lots of our breeds are losing type and generic show dogs are being bred because they are finished.
    Judges can only judge what is entered. If ribbons are withheld, they offending judge is skewered. That is seldom done and I’m certain when a judge makes the decision to withhold ribbons it is not taken lightly. It should be done more often imho!!

    All parties involved need to do some introspection vs blaming AKC!!

  17. Kari permalink

    I feel there are too many all breed clubs sitting next to one another or within spitting distance. Clubs were cropping up due to member disputes, “I will take my ball else where” behavior. AKC has approved too many all breed clubs. I can get to club meetings for at least 4 all breed clubs that are within an hour of my home. More if I extend that to an hour and a half, and I live in the middle of no where farm country. If clubs would condense, pool their resources and work force, it would cause clubs to not function in the red. Hiring stewards associations, hiring parking attendants, hiring people to do things that the club members SHOULD be volunteering to do for their club, will cut costs. There are too many shows due to having too many clubs. The clubs are no longer what they used to be, a supporting body for dog activities and breeders. I am a breeder/owner handler, an owner/handler and a professional handler. I do make a living showing dogs, conditioning dogs and training dogs. It is frustrating to see very nice dogs, not winning, due to a new owner handler still learning to present their and trying to train their dog. Judges not being patient, not helping to guide this newcomer into having a positive experience, not giving advice for the owner to work on a few things, instead finding the best presented, best groomed, not necessarily the best dog in the ring. I’ve been on the end of the lead of the best presented, best groomed, inferior dog that won over dogs that I felt were better dogs. The inferior dog is in no way a poor specimen, just not as good of a dog as my competitors dog that I felt should have won. I think the solution can be found at club level. Clubs change the way they run a show, merge clubs (power in numbers), bring back the great shows, get rid of excess shows, put the focus on the members.

  18. Shirle Rogers permalink

    I have an idea that might help o/h, pro, and judge. I have been presenting a system of multiple winners for 8 years. Everyone trashes the idea, but I’m not afraid to offer it again. What if every dog was evaluated on a 1-5 point scale where 5 is an exceptional dog with no more than 1 minor fault. A 4 dog is an excellent dog with no more than 2 minor faults. A dog graded 3 is a very good dog with no major faults. A 2 has one major fault. A 1 probably shouldn’t be in the ring. The judge will have a card with the dog’s class and number, along with the show name and date. There will be a box to write the dog’s grade, and the judge will hand the card to the exhibitor as they leave the ring with a “Thanks for showing today,” at a minimum. They are welcome to say other nice things, too.

    Yes, I know, this mimics the FCI sysrem. But wait, there’s more! Let’s say it takes at leat 20 points to finish a dog. A dog can only have two gradings of 1, and only two gradings of 2. They might get these as puppies. I waver about allowing a dog to finish with all 3’s, but obviously a dog with 3, 4, and 5 are correct according to their standards.

    More dogs would finish. AKC wouldn’t need the O/H class. Judges could award as many handlers asthey want, but owners would get awarded at the same time for a worthy dog. We might lose the variety classes and end up with the puppy classes (6-18 months), Bred By, and Open.

    I think many more people would show. AKC might even raise entry fees. Judges might feel freer to send a message that a dog is of poor quality by awarding 1s and 2s without jeopardizing their future assignments by, essentially- d/q ing a dog. You can continue showing a dog that has a string of 1s and 2s- you don’t have to stop showing those dogs. Only the owner will know the dog’s score, so an optimist might hope.

    • It sounds great but who will make these judgements? The judges we now have rewarding flash over function?
      Grooming, training and handling do not reproduce, yet they are the first items of evaluation for way too many judges
      How many times have you heard “The (fill in the breed) just ASKED for it.”

  19. Lorraine permalink

    Well said! I agree! Any one can see these days, it’s who’s on the other end of the lead. Not the dog! Such a shame! I for 1 have shown dogs off and on for over 20 yrs. I see the decline in entries, and quality of dogs! I prefer the UKC over the AKC now. Its the way it should be, about the dog!

  20. remor permalink

    Had a Judge approach me outside the ring at a dog show to tell me that my dog (not mentioning breed here) was the most beautiful dog she had ever seen. Fast forward to a show, a major no less, where lo and behold she was the judge. Guess what…we went reserve winner’s dog…to a handler!! Go figure. Wake up AKC is right!!!!!

  21. Jennifer donnelly permalink

    Great article and so true. The judges complain that breeds are losing this function and that feature and the blame lies with them because if the dogs
    They award points to

    • When a judge is told point blank to ‘stop looking for function’ in a breed that started as a running, hunting hound…I have to say the fault does NOT lie with the judges

  22. I quit the show ring years ago because of the “professional” politics. Got sick and tired of wasting my hard earned money.

  23. dawn bradshaw permalink

    Having shown AKC and UKC, even as an owner handler, I still prefer AKC. The article points out a single facet of the demise of AKC- POLITICS due to the handler. However it is NOT the main culprit to the decline in showing, quality and registrations of dogs. Over the past twenty years or so, many average people have been made to feel guilty to own purebred dogs. With the internet, many people “shop” for pups or dogs and are clueless as to what one should look for in a breeder. Where is the AKC and OFA in supporting and marketing the do’s and don’ts of a puppy purchase? Where is a checklist, provided by these supporting organizations, available to the new fancier? No one is better at marketing than nationally recognized organization capable of making the buyer feel guilty and pushed into buying- yes buying a so called rescued dog. Where are the breed clubs when it come to public education about their specific breed? and the most scary situation going on now as we speak in many states- mandatory spay & neuter- how many of us that show and love our breed even know how to look up pending legislation so we can fight?. The destruction and dismantling of the AKC and breeders began decades ago. It is a poison rooted in the public by certain organizations, it is systemic, it is lethal, and it is the root cause, not handlers or judges trying to do something they love and believe in
    : Showing and Breeding dogs. PS: I am NOT a pro handler

  24. Shows are losing entries because of US, folks. We’re rude to newcomers, we”re not welcoming to the public, we are short with potential puppy buyers, we brag about the hoops we make people jump through….we have simply quit being nice people. What does Joe Public think when he stands behind competitors trashing the dog shown by a junior or complaining about politics? He thinks this is not something he wants his family involved in. When a newcomer asks your opinion of a beloved dog, do you respond harshly, “do you want the truth or do you want me to tell you what you want to hear?” (Could you maybe begin by pointing out the dog’s good qualities and easing into the problems gently?) AKC cannot make dog shows fun again. Only we can do that. (And in the interest of disclosure, I am definitely not a professional handler and do not use one on a regular basis. I often have friends show for me due to physical limitations and we win and lose about as much as you would expect)

  25. The AKC ‘created’ the Owner-Handler class and BIS awards for O/H & BBE, BUT in order to qualify for O/H awards, the O/H dog MUST be awarded Winners and it simply does not happen, in my breed since the professional handlers are being awarded Winners. I have seen terrible breed specimens awarded Winners simply because of the two-legged professional at the opposite end of the lead which should be judged. My breed is being drastically changed from the AKC breed standard description because professionals are winning with dogs which should never even be considered due to faults…i..e. too long, incorrect heads, incorrect proportions, incorrect movement, etc. Not worth my paying entry fees to compete against professionals and loose…too much money to WASTE!

  26. Kimm McDowell permalink

    The real problem here began when “rescuing” a dog or paying exorbitant amounts for “Designer dogs” became fashionable….where was the AKC as potential puppy buyers went elsewhere for their companions? There should have been a huge outcry and advertising campaign to promote purebred dog breeders! Future exhibitors and breeders are born from a select few of those dog owners that purchase well bred pets and then get interested in showing….with less and less people realizing the vast benefits of buying a good, health screened, well bred puppy and turning instead to adopting a dog, there are less and less people who are introduced to the sport of dog showing. BTW, I am handler, however I was an owner handler first. Instead of complaining when I lost (often) I worked to get better AND learned about my breed until I could purchase a better quality puppy….and then won the Nationals with that dog. Handlers aren’t the biggest problem in dog showing.

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