I have been struck these past several weeks by how many new faces I am seeing collecting BIS wins here at midyear. Being the numbers nerd I am, I am always suspicious about hunches, gut reactions and anecdotal evidence. So I decided to look at the numbers to see what they tell us. Above is a chart showing the all-breed shows during the months of April, May & June. I chose these months to minimize the impact of “holdovers,” dogs who were highly ranked last year that were continuing to be shown into this year. I did scrub the numbers by removing all the shows won by holdovers who are not still being shown and are among the “Sub 100.” The chart shows the BIS won by our current Top Ten Dogs All Breeds (48), the shows won by dogs ranked 11-100 (72) and the shows won by dogs not ranked in the Top 100 (99).
It will come as no surprise to fanciers that most of the dogs in the Top 100 are dogs that are shown by professionals who are out every weekend. It should also be noted that there are two groups in that “Sub 100” that are not your average owner-handled dogs. One group includes those dogs that are professionally handled and are just now starting their specials careers. The other are mostly owner-handled dogs that have been shown for two, three or more seasons, and now show up at the occasional local show. However, we can’t dismiss the fact that among that 45 percent of BIS winners are a substantial number of breeder/owner/handlers who have very good dogs which they present expertly.
So what do I think these numbers mean? I have long maintained that the main advantage the professional has is that he/she does this every weekend. They have had time to hone their craft. For exhibitors who are at a point in their lives where they can dedicate the time to learn the art of conditioning, training, grooming and exhibiting their dogs, the playing field is pretty level. I also believe breeder/owner/handlers have two advantages. Most are only showing one dog at a time, and many are breeders who have an indepth knowledge of their breed that a handler, who handles multiple breeds, may not have.
However, at the top of this game, the Best In Show competition, the well-financed dog, professionally handled, still has the advantage. Personally, I have never competed at that level AND I have never wanted to compete at that level. I think most exhibitors do not want their hobby to become a job. Even this admitted dog show junkie doesn’t want to attend 200 shows a year. My family has given me an allowance of one week a month for attending shows. I find that and the vicarious thrills I get from talking to my fellow dog show junkies to be sufficient. However, for those people who wish to win the occasional Best In Show, I say this is a good year to try your hand. And that’s today’s Back Story.