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Who’s Top Dog?

I am a numbers nerd.  I spent most of my professional life as a management analyst/consultant pouring over statistical data trying to interpret it.  When I began writing the blog, Dog Show Poop, I fell back on my statistical background to support my dog show habit.  In maintaining an up to date ranking of the top dogs, I began to question the whole concept.  How do you judge who are the top players in the game?

Our current system is essentially a “shop till you drop” system.  There are no limits on the number of shows that you can count toward you end of year point total.   Type and soundness are not enough to wind under the current system.  A dog must also have stamina and resources.   The big advantage of the current system is that there are plenty of opportunities for the average person to participate.  There are around 1500 all breed shows scattered around the US each year.  Whether you want to try your hand as an exhibitor or just enjoy the dogs as a spectator, there will be a show near you this year.

But how should we measure the success of a dog.  Most breeders swear by breed specialties.   I have a reverence for the larger national specialties.  I am in awe of the dog that can stand out in an entry of 500 dogs of the same breed.  However, I am somewhat skeptical of the specialty winner that convinces one judge that he/she is the best of 15 dogs.

Some people, myself included, look at the dogs that do well at what I call the marquee shows, the large shows that year after year, draw the most competitive entries, Palm Springs, Portland, Louisville, etc.  However, even I admit that one can be surprised at some of the small “boutique” shows.  There was a 500 dog show in Mississippi a couple years ago that five of the Top Ten Dogs competed.

Finally there are the invitational shows, the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship and The Westminster Kennel Club.  Many dog owners would rather have a Best In Show at Westminster than a Number One Dog All Breeds.   But are there other ways to measure success?

How about combining all of the above?  A kind of “Miss America” kind of competition.  You know, so many points for the interview, so many points for the swim suit competition, so many points for talent, and a final show down to demonstrate you can think on your feet?  How about regional awards for those who don’t have the stamina or resources to travel great distances?  The Cat Fanciers Association has a very successful regional award program that could be adopted.

Whatever system the dog world adopts, I assure you that the question of who is the best dog out in any year will still be fervently debated at every gathering of dog show folk.  And that’s today’s Back Story.

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.
Comments
  • Sharon Sakson September 25, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    The current system exhausts the poor dogs unlucky enough to be competing in it. And emphasizes a bias against the really excellent specimen kept at home by a caring owner and brought out only once in a while – the owner may not bother to bring the excellent dog to an AKC show where the emphasis is on the few top dogs flying around the country. Why can’t we change to a different sort of “Number One Dog”? What about a system that limits the number of wins that matter — 20 wins count towards the numbering system, no more. So the owner who can afford 20 shows can now compete with the owner who can afford 200. Or what about regional number one dogs? Doesn’t matter if the dog flies coast to coast every weekend, there are 10 or 20 different number one dogs, each in its region?
    Four shows every weekend, in and out of airports, days spent standing on grooming tables — what sort of life is this for nature’s most beautiful beast, the dog? Can’t someone think up a more humane competition system that would still satisfy the human’s ego?
    You come up with something for us, Billy Wheeler.

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