One of my favorite stops on the dog show circuit every year is this month’s Kentuckiana Cluster in Louisville KY. The four-show cluster hosted by the Mid-Kentucky Kennel Club, the Louisville Kennel Club and the Evansville Kennel Club is consistently among the largest weekends all year. Let’s take a look at the numbers for this year’s cluster.
The first thing you notice is the numbers are down substantially. Last year’s cluster drew 12,722 entries in the regular classes. This year comes in at 10,522, a drop of 17 percent. This continues a trend we have seen for the past several months. While the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship and the Westminster Kennel Club show entries were up, they got a boost by adding class dogs to the previously titled-dogs-only entries. However, Palm Springs, Portland and the Florida Marathon were all down. I will leave to a future post a discussion on what’s impacting our entries.
Back to the Kentuckiana Cluster. The above pie chart shows a remarkably equal distribution of entries. Surprisingly, the Hounds lead all entries with 17 percent of the total entry. That’s up from 13.6 percent last year. The Sporting and Herding Groups hold steady at 15 percent, but the Working Dogs dropped dramatically from 21 percent of the entry to 15 percent. Terriers and Toys are also unchanged at 13 percent apiece, but the Non-Sporting Group has improved its share from 8 to 11 percent.
This egalitarian entry assures every fancier a good opportunity to see a representative of their favorite breed. One of the reasons I make a trek to Louisville every year is that I get to see dogs I rarely see at my local shows. Among the giant Hound entry at Saturday’s Evansville Kennel Club show will be 40 Ibizan Hounds, 37 Scottish Deerhounds and 24 Otterhounds. The last time I saw that many Otterhounds in one place was last year’s Ketuckiana Cluster. Thanks to this year’s Westminster Kennel Club show, everyone is now familiar with the Affenpinscher, but most people outside the sport have never seen a Brussels Griffon. There are 54 entered this year on Saturday. There will be the usual big entries in Golden Retrievers (96) and Labrador Retrievers (52), but there will also be 10 Spinoni Italiani.
In the Working Group, I will drop in on my childhood breed, the Saint Bernard to watch 15 of the lovable giants and stop by the Standard Schnauzer ring to see 19 representatives of one of this year’s most competitive breeds. Although the lamb-like Bedlington Terrier is one of the most recognized of AKC breeds, most of the public have never seen one in the flesh. There will be 55 at the American Bedlington Terrier Club of America’s national specialty on Saturday. In the Non-Sporting Group, I recommend you stop to see the 12 Lowchen, a charming breed that for some reason has not caught on with the public. Remember, pet owners are not required to give them the funny haircut. Finally, we don’t often see Belgian Tervuren outside the Pacific Northwest, but the breed leads the Herding Group with 73 entries.
In addition to the dogs, the Ketuckiana Cluster has other charms. From an exhibitor’s and spectator’s perspective, the Kentucky Exposition Center is one of the most accessible and comfortable venues in dogs. Grooming setups are within steps of parking, there’s plenty of seating, and there are wonderful collections of vendors. My wife, Brenda, still talks about the shoe shopping at a dog show in Louisville.
Brenda and I will be in Louisville for all four shows, March 14-16. We hope to see you there. And that’s today’s Back Story.