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Tam Cordingley, CSI Instructor, SAAB Member - AKC Approved Canine Good Citizen Evaluator


Dog shows are killing themselves. From a competition to determine the best breeding stock, our hobby has become only a win-points race for show win ratings.



The holy ratings, of which there are an abundance, are the goal. The owners, he or she with the most money, wins the most. Win points ratings are the ruination of our dog shows. I've been saying that for many years but it has gotten even worse in 2021.


The ratings have, and are now, causing many if our best handlers to wear themselves out and their dogs to become exhausted. 200+ shows a year, plus travel days, mean a successful handler never has a break. The dogs never have time to just relax and be a dog.


The best stud dogs are never home to breed, the most valuable bitches are not bred until older, often past their optimum breeding age. That may not matter because they are too busy showing (to make it to the top of the points ratings) to be bred.


Think of how dog shows used to be. Shows were mainly on the weekends so owner handlers and part time handlers could and did participate.


Our main dog magazines were Dog World and Dog Fancy. How many of today's breeders got their start from a Dog World ad? Lots, I can name several off the top of my head. The “good old days” in fact were. Professional handlers had time to talk and mentor, not just run madly to get packed up and loaded to drive hours to the next show circuit.


You may remember that the clusters came about as a result of gas shortages. It was easier to have three shows at the same location. Today the local kennel club holds their shows far from home. So much for showing to the local residents and bringing new people into the sport... Today it is all about ratings.



And the dog show ratings systems are endless! Number 1 in the EWDog Breeders rating, Number 1 in the “Green long coat system”, Number 2 in the “most miles travelled” system. Today the two and three day shows are rare and five day clusters are common so usually the same dogs win over and over.


Add in travel time between clusters and a popular handler has no life. No down time. A top show dog may get to share a motel room or a bed in the motorhome but most live between a crate and an ex-pen.


This situation, in my opinion, is a direct result of the ratings. The vanity magazines are sent, free, to every judge. Who can blame the judges for putting up a dog that is heavily advertised? All the other judges think he is great, so he must be.


When the owner handlers give up, and the professionals all quit from exhaustion, maybe dog shows will revert to being about the best dogs, not the deepest pocketbooks. EST 1998 © Nov. 2021



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