Quiz: Does Your Dog Have What it Takes to Be a Champion?
While we all love our dogs and think that they are the best in the world, those who compete with their dogs – whether it is for fun or in earnest – hope that others will judge their dogs to be the best too and acknowledge this by giving them a championship title!
Of course - especially in conformation shows - the judge’s opinion is individual and subjective; judges are human and therefore prone to their own personal biases and viewpoints - so it can be hard to have a “formula for success”. Nevertheless, there are certain traits that your dog might possess which will give him a greater chance of achieving championship status.
Questions1) When You Got Your Puppy
- a) the breeder gave you a copy of its Kennel Club registered pedigree, tracing its ancestors back several generations, with many champions labelled in red.
- b) the breeder gave you a piece of paper showing the names of the puppy’s dam and sire.
- c) you didn’t get any pedigree information
2) Your Dog
- a) came from a breeder who performed all the necessary health screening tests on the parents and has the certificates to prove it.
- b) came from a breeder who seemed nice and assured you that her dogs were healthy
- c) came from an online pet supplier and you have no idea of its background
3) Your Dog Looks
- a) Exactly like the photos of the breed in books, down to the markings on the coat and also matches the size described in breed books.
- b) a bit small for his breed and has slightly longer legs but good overall
- c) really cute with his one floppy ear and the white patches on his chest, even though he doesn’t really look like the examples of the breed in the books!
4) When Strangers Come Up to Your Dog
- a) he remains calm and is happy for them to run their hands all over his body, even his ears, mouth and paws.
- b) he wags his tail and gets a bit excited but is happy to be petted
- c) he cowers away and tucks his tail underneath – and tries to bite them if they try to touch him.
5) When Your Dog Walks and Trots
- a) he moves really smoothly and looks just the way they describe in the breed standard
- b) he moves quite well, although sometimes he can miss his rhythm a bit
- c) he looks a bit strange, like one side is lopsided
6) You Take Your Dog Out for Exercise and Free Running
- a) daily, for at least 30 minutes or more, depending on the breed requirements
- b) most days, although you sometimes miss a few days
- c) hardly ever – mostly, they stay in their crates or around the house.
AnswersIf you answered mostly A’s – well done! You have a good chance of gaining a championship title
If you answered mostly B’s – you might do well, depending on the judges, and there may be some things you can work on to improve but you may never achieve the top titles.
If you answered mostly C’s – unfortunately, it is very unlikely that you will go far in any serious competitions.
Things to Think About1)Does your dog have a long and impressive pedigree?While this is not a guarantee of success, dogs which come from a long line of show champions tend to possess the physical (and mental) characteristics that are likely to catch the eye of judges and be in with a greater chance of walking home with the winning rosette.
Of course, fashions change and judge’s tastes as well and while your dog’s great-grandparents may have all been champions, the present show climate may well favour a different type of the breed. Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to check your dog’s pedigree and see how many champions – especially close relationships, such as Sire and Dam – there are on BOTH sides. These will usually be shown in red so that they are easily visible.
One thing to note, though, is that owners of stud dogs may not be particularly selective when selling their dogs’ stud services so their championship status could turn up in several pedigrees but if matched with a poor specimen as the dam, this is no guarantee for the quality of the puppies.
2)Is your dog physically fit and healthy?Dogs that come from parents that have had the health screening tests relevant to the breed will have a much higher chance of developing into healthy, fit specimens of their breed – which in turn means that they will have a better chance of winning a championship title.
3)Does your dog compare well with the breed standard?You may think that the white patches on his chest or the way his tail curls over his back is so adorable but if they are not what is described in the breed standard, then chances are, your dog will be a deemed a poor specimen of his breed by judges and be unlikely to be selected. Ideally, your dog should be well within the range of sizes and colours that are mentioned in the breed standard, with carriage of tail important as well.
4)Is your dog used to being handled?All show dogs need to be well-socialised and confident, in order to cope with the busy, crowded, noisy atmosphere of dog shows and in particular, with the handling by judges who will almost invariably strangers. Dogs that shy away or are aggressive towards judges may be disqualified – and in any case, a dog which is cowering away does not show as well as one that is standing confidently and proudly.
5)Does your dog move well?Gait is an important consideration when judges look at a dog and they will be comparing your dog’s movement with that described in the breed standard as the ideal representative for the breed. Unfortunately, this is not something that you can influence too much through training or practice – your dog’s natural gait is what he has and if it does not match the preferred breed description, it is very unlikely that your dog will be favourably looked upon by the judges.
6)Is your dog amply exercised?Dogs that win shows have good tone and condition – and this is achieved through a responsible exercise regime. Many people believe that show dogs need to be cosseted and therefore deny them the chance to walk and run and play – not only is this very unhealthy, both mentally and physically, but it also means that your dog will never achieve the necessary tone and condition needed to shine in the show ring.
Remember, however, that regardless of how your dog does in the show ring, we all take champions home with us!