I have been a numbers nerd all my life. It’s a combination of the entertainment factor…I was doing number puzzles before there was an Xbox…and insecurity…I trust numbers more than hunches. Lots of people think they know what reality is, but numbers are reality. Numbers are a universal communication tool. I once saw a Sci-Fi movie where a signal from outer space generated a conversation based on Pi. (That’s 3.14159265359, not apple.)
For us in the dog world, we start counting numbers early. We count Championship & Grand Championship points, then breed points & all-breed points. If we’re lucky, we start counting breed wins, and Group placements, and maybe even a BIS. My blog, Dog Show Poop, got its start because of numbers. I wanted to track the latest standings for the Top Ten Dogs All Breeds and began scrambling around collecting the latest numbers. One of the things that helps me do that is a mathematical model that estimates dogs competing based on the number of dogs entered. My model requires me to keep an eye on the entries by Groups around the US.
For the past several months, I have had the feeling (see “hunches” above) that entries of lately have shifted toward certain groups. Now most exhibitors are well aware that the bulk of the entries at most shows are in three Groups: Sporting, Working & Toy, with the first two slightly larger than the third. For years, competitors in the other four Groups have scrambled to pick up enough points to be competitive. Eight of our current Top Ten are from the Sporting, Working & Toy Groups. It is no coincidence that we have no Hound or Herding dog in our Top Ten.
I spent much of today pouring over the entries from the last six months to see if the numbers would validate my feelings. Here in the South, our Terrier entries have been extremely small at times. While the Terrier entry at a typical Southern show averages only 7 percent of the total, they were 12.5 percent of entries in the Mid-Atlantic. I had expected that Southern California, with its concentration of Terrier enthusiasts, would also be among the best place to see big numbers in my Group. However, SoCal has some of the smallest Terrier entries lately with just 6 percent of the entries. The South Central past of the US (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas) surprisingly was the second best place to show a Terrier with 10.35 percent of entries.
While Terriers are scarce here in the South, Toys rule. At our shows, Toys average better than 20 percent of the entry. Once again, the South Central region surprised me with over 17 percent of its entries in the Toy Group. Overall, Toy entries are down with entries as low 12.5 percent in the Rocky Mountains. Toys are around 13 percent in the Northeast, Great Lakes & Northern California regions. While we have no Herding dogs in the Top Ten, entries have been stable everywhere at around 12.5 percent in most areas, although the Northeast is routinely seeing less than 10 percent of its entries in that Group.
We also see some wide disparities in the Non-Sporting Group. Again, here in the South, expect tough competition in the Group, which comes in at 14.25 percent of our entries. However, in the Mid-Atlantic, the Group is the smallest of the seven, drawing only 9 percent on average. Elsewhere you can expect to see somewhere between 12 & 13 percent. The most surprising number I saw in my analysis was in Hound Group. Recent shows in SoCal have had remarkable entries averaging almost 21 percent of the total. That is 8 percentage points above the other regions in the US where 12.66 is the norm.
It seems wherever we go we see huge entries of Sporting and Working Dogs, with entries varying from large to huge. Half of the regions in the US routinely see better than 20 percent of their entries from the Sporting Group, but in the Northeast region they come in at nearly 24 percent. Working Dogs own the Mid-Atlantic with almost 23 percent of all entries and are uniformly large across the US, averaging 19.4 percent of total entries, the most of any Group.
So what do I draw from my analysis? There has been a measurable, although subtle, growth in the disparity of entries. The Sporting and Working Groups have grown, while the others have waned. It matters where you exhibit. We Terrier exhibitors in the South will have to hunt for majors, but Toy and Non-Sporting owners will be able to stay closer to home. Like politics, all dog show strategy is local. And that’s today’s Back Story.