What You Need to Know to Raise a Show Dog in 2023

What You Need to Know to Raise a Show Dog in 2023

While a lot of pet owners just want to focus on making their pets safe and comfortable, you have others who want to really maximize their experience with pets, specifically dogs. Show animals have been around for a while now. Let’s just remember local festivals and carnivals held centuries ago, where people showed off their prized farm animals. This still exists and now welcomes other species, from cats and dogs to birds and so much more.

But when it comes to raising a show dog, this can be considered additionally serious, not just something for summer state fairs. So, are you interested in raising a dog that you can take to dog shows and other special events? Then keep reading on to learn more about this luxurious hobby.

Why Have a Show Dog?

Whether they’re toy (think puffy Pomeranians and bug-eyed pugs), sporty retrievers, or working dogs like huskies, dogs who compete in dog shows waltz around the arena with an audience of fascinated fans. These events were originally meant to showcase purebred breeding stock. Judges approved by the American Kennel Club examine each pampered pooch to see how well they match up with their breed’s official standard.

Will you make a lot of money doing this? Most likely, no. There are cash prizes for first and second place, but this is technically considered a very expensive hobby. Raising this dog, or any animal, really isn’t about making money; rather, it’s about spending time with your pet and getting them to reach their full potential. It can be special, and it can be a lot of fun, and that’s really what it’s about, having fun with others who enjoy this hobby as much as you do.

What You’ll Need to Keep in Mind

It’s not exactly a walk in the park to raise a show dog. For starters, this luxury hobby is an expensive one. Sure, it’s not as expensive as wine tastings or yacht sailings, but it’s still a fairly pricey one that requires a lot of commitment. A pet, no matter the breed, does require a lot of commitment, but you can think of this hobby as an extra commitment as you want to present your dog as the best of the best. So, let’s look into the factors that you’re going to have to consider when doing this.

You’ll Need a Reputable Breeder

Do you know how some breeders sell on parking lots of malls or stalls inside flea markets? Yeah, those are far from reputable when it comes to buying puppies for sale. While there is a gray area in terms of ethics, if you’re wanting a show dog, you’ll need a reputable breeder. These breeders go for very ethical practices; they have proof of breed for every dog, and they even have proof of lineage too. Yes, you can even get a family tree of your dog.

Many responsible breeders focus on just one or two breeds, and they care about each individual puppy they raise. In contrast, shady puppy mills are like big-box stores. They stock a ton of different breeds and don’t care how each one performs or what their specific nutritional needs may be. Once you find a breeder, ask to visit their facilities. The general condition of their grounds and living conditions will clue you into whether they are trustworthy or not. Most reputable breeders will welcome your visit and won’t offer up a litany of excuses as to why they can’t let you see their facility.

You Can’t Just Pick Any Pup

Assuming you’ve found a good breeder, you want to meet the pups that the breeder has kept and spend some time observing them. Watch how the puppies interact with each other and how they react to people coming to see them. Look at their coats for a shiny, healthy appearance and a lack of any bald spots or signs of illness. Also, observe their eyes, ears, and genitalia for any signs of infection.

While accurate temperament testing is impossible at such a young age, you can get a good sense of the puppies’ personalities by touching their ears, paws, and noses. Puppies who welcome your touch and roll over on their back for belly rubs are likely to be very easygoing, while those that nip at you or shy away are more likely to be dominant.

Their Health Makes a Difference

Not only will it ruin your reputation, but you’re going to anger a lot of people if your dog isn’t healthy and you’re taking it to dog shows. Show dogs get top-tier veterinary care and are fed nutrient-rich diets. They also need daily grooming, professional training, and exercise suited to their breed. It’s a big commitment for both you and the dog to raise a show dog, so make sure it’s what you really want.

Attending shows or bringing your dog to a limited or open show first can help you decide if this is the right path for you and your pup. If you do decide to enter your dog in a show, prepare by practicing regular inspections that approximate those of a judge. These include a close examination of the dog’s teeth and, for males, touching the genital area. Getting your dog comfortable with these routine inspections will help them become more relaxed when being inspected by strangers in the ring.

There’s Going to Be a Lot of Training

There’s going to be so much training from a puppy and beyond; the training honestly never stops. Training is a huge part of a show dog’s life. It begins before they are born, as breeders use early neurological stimulation to help their puppies develop a solid temperament and learn how to handle stress. Puppies should start obedience training right away and be taught to sit, down, stay, leave it, come, and crate the train. Also, teach them to go potty on command, as they will be required to relieve themselves in unfamiliar environments at shows.

Dogs competing in conformation, or breed, shows must have a firm grasp on obedience and gait training, as well as stacking (standing poses) that are specific to their breed standards. Dogs participating in herding and sports shows must also learn commands specific to those events. Attend as many live shows and watch televised ones as possible to get a feel for how the breed is shown in the ring.  It’s vital to give them training, and there are special training schools for show dogs too.

Socialization is Everything

This actually goes hand in hand with training too. To begin socializing your dog, take them to a variety of places that can expose them to different sights, sounds, and scents. Expose them to people of all ages, including men and women, children, and the elderly. Ask people to interact with the puppy at their comfort level and reward them when they are receptive. They will learn that the world is a safe and fun place. Plus, you just can’t have a show dog if they want to fight or greet every dog; it’s just a bad look.

There’s Going to Be a Lot of Traveling

If you’re wanting to take this hobby seriously, then it will mean you’ll have to travel. You’ll need to attend competitions in other states and cities. This might mean that you’ll have to go by plane, both you and your dog. So, they’ll need to be able to handle the stress from that too.