Best In Show Daily’s weekly poll question gives readers a chance to weigh in on the dog-related topics addressed by our editors. Your responses, together with the comments posted at the end of each article, provide a glimpse into how the fancy feels about some of the cultural, political and legal issues that concern today’s purebred dog breeders and exhibitors. We sincerely appreciate hearing from you, and we look forward to reporting your opinions here each month.

The use of crates in the home and at shows has cultural implications. Photo by Sergey Lavrentev/

To Crate or Not to Crate
While American exhibitors are generally comfortable with crate training as a tool for the care and management of dogs, Bo Bengtson explored the cultural implications of using a crate in an article titled, “To Crate or Not to Crate – and for How Long?” Some European fanciers, as we’ve learned, can view a crate as “the devil’s handiwork,” a kind of cage that is apparently even illegal in some countries. Of course, a dog must never be “caged” in a crate, and Bo argues for its humane use, principally for the dogs’ safety. We asked our readers how often their dogs were crated, and the responses are a reflection of the role that dogs play in our lives. More than one-third, or 36 percent of respondents “only use a crate when traveling,” and another 33 percent say their dogs are crated “only at night.” Only 17 percent say their dogs are in crates during the day, and 10 percent only use a crate for puppies. Four percent of respondents “never use a crate.” Safety, as Bo suggests, may be the best reason for utilizing a crate, whether in the car, throughout the night, or while at work or out running errands. Every dog appreciates having a place to call its own. Having a locking door simply keeps a dog safe and gives its owner a little piece of mind.

Best of Breed Is Best
In “The Secret About Best in Show,” Bo acknowledged that an all-breed Best is the highest award available at any American Kennel Club dog show, and it’s the win that most exhibitors – professional and owner-handler alike – seem to cherish the most. But is that red, white and blue rosette as meaningful as the rest of the ribbons that are earned in the ring? We wondered what exhibitors felt was the most important decision made by AKC judges at the typical all-breed show. Exactly half of the respondents told us that Best of Breed held the greatest meaning in the evaluation of purebred dogs, followed by another 40 percent who felt that awarding points to Winners Dog and Winners Bitch was most important. Only 6 percent gave Best in Show the highest level of importance, with 4 percent doing the same on behalf of a Group win or placement. The results suggest that the original purpose of the dog show – the evaluation of breeding stock based on a written standard – is still highly regarded by those who breed and exhibit purebred dogs (or at least by Best In Show Daily readers).

Countering Attacks on Purebred Dogs
Senior Editor Christi McDonald provides a biweekly “Legislative Update” to report on proposed bills that directly impact dog breeding and ownership in the U.S. and abroad. AKC and various groups have monitored breed-specific legislation for several decades, with some community efforts meeting with success, and others with resignation. On the subject of countering proposed restrictions on the right to breed and own dogs, we wanted to find out what our readers think is the best way to counter attacks on AKC and purebred dog breeders. Nearly one-third, or 32 percent, of those who responded to our poll indicated that television and radio ads promoting our dogs is the best method for getting out a positive message about our efforts to produce happy and healthy dogs. Twenty-eight percent of respondents take a more grass roots approach by encouraging the promotion of dog events within our communities, and another 27 percent feel that it is imperative to oppose anti-dog legislation at every level. Interestingly, 8 percent of those who responded to the poll think that our dogs are the best goodwill ambassadors for purebred dogs, while only one in 20 will choose to work directly with the AKC Government Relations Department.

National Specialties Matter
Since our readers have told us they give greatest merit to wins at the breed level, it’s not at all surprising to learn that national specialties are still valued for their contribution to purebred dogs and the dog sport. Virtually every AKC-recognized breed’s parent club organizes an annual national where supporters gather to celebrate the breeds to which they are so devoted. As Bo says in his article titled, “National Specialties: A Celebration of the Breed,” “If there’s anything more fascinating in the world of dog shows than a really great national specialty, I don’t know what that would be.” Apparently Best In Show Daily readers agree. The responses to our poll on the subject indicate there are plenty of good reasons to make the annual pilgrimage to support your club and your breed. We wanted to find out what you think is the most important reason to attend a national specialty, and your responses leaned heavily in the camaraderie department. Nearly half of the respondents, or 48 percent, indicated the national was the place to present a dog for others to see, and more than a third, or 36 percent, say they attend their national to share the experience with breed devotees. Presenting to a knowledgeable judge was given priority by only 6 percent of respondents, and another 6 percent say they go “to win.” Since Best In Show Daily readers are among the sport’s most active breeders, exhibitors, handlers and judges, it should not be surprising to learn that only 4 percent of those who responded to the poll say they have never attended their breed’s national specialty.

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