This has been a year of contrasts in the show ring. On one hand we have the Top Five Dogs All Breeds that have racked up incredible numbers. On the other hand we have 63 of our Top 100 with two or fewer BIS to their credit. Last year we had two Sporting dogs atop our rankings. This year has seen our Working dogs occupy seven of the Top 20 spots. As I perused the current numbers, I began wondering about how our different groups are represented among our Top Dogs. The above chart shows what percent of the Top 100 is occupied by each group. Once again, the Sporting and Working Groups dominate the scene with 18 and 20 percent, respectively.

What the above chart led me to was the Herding Group. You see, we have no Herding Dogs in our Top Twenty Dogs All Breeds. So the question is, “Where are the Herding dogs?” Our current Number One Herding Dog is the Old English Sheepdog, GCH CH Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect. Swagger was the surprise winner of the first-ever Reserve Best In Show at February’s Westminster Kennel Club show. Swagger is the Number 21 Dog All Breeds with three BIS this year in 14 final appearances.

However, Swagger is not the Herding Dog with the most BIS this year. The Shetland Sheepdog, GCH CH Grandgables The Frat Boy, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, GCH CH Aubrey’s Tails of Mystery, and the Shetland Sheepdog, GCH CH PaRay’s Preferential, are the 24th, 27th & 28th Dogs All Breeds. All have four BIS this year. Rounding out the Top Five Herding Dogs is the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, GCH CH Coventry Allure at Wyndstar. Allie has one BIS this year and is the 32nd Dog All Breeds.

Why aren’t our Herding Dogs doing better in inter-group competition? Well, part of the puzzle is that Herding Dogs are not showing up. While overall entries are down about 19 percent, Herding Dog entries are down 30 percent. Sporting and Working dogs are getting 50 percent more points for a Group One than the Herding Dogs. As of April 17th, our Top Ten Dogs have entered an average of 45 shows each. However, the Top Ten Herding Dogs have entered just 26.

The Herding Dog exhibitors with whom I have spoken are just as puzzled as I by this year’s sudden dearth of participation. So, is it just a momentary blip on the radar screen or some indication of serious troubles ahead? I will keep an eye on this. And that’s today’s Back Story.