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Learn how to interpret a dog's pedigree name.
To many, dog showing is totally unfathomable.
There are strange rules; it's stressful; it's alternately hot, cold, wet or windy. There are early mornings, long journeys, crowded venues and dogs which insist on getting dirty the minute you have groomed them to perfection.
So why do people do it?
For some it's a hobby, for others it's a lifestyle. It's certainly a good way to meet people who have a common interest. Indeed, through the show scene many friendships are forged which last years. It's not unusual to find a group of owners of many different breeds of dog enjoying the sun or commiserating in the rain. After all, they're not competing against each other until they get through to the Group judging.
The 150 or so recognised breeds are classified by the purpose for which they were originally bred. In New Zealand these groups are Toy, Terrier, Gundog, Hound, Working, Utility and Non-Sporting. Papillons are classified in the Toy group.
How does it work?
At a show the judges are not comparing the dogs against each other. The principle is to compare each dog on show with the ideal specimen of the breed; its conformation to the Breed Standard. Thus when a group line-up is being judged, the breeds are not compared with each other, but rather each dog is compared with the judge's mind's eye view of the perfect dog of the same breed.
Judging commences with
the dogs and then the bitches follow. There are several classes, listed below, generally these are by age or achievement. First, the baby puppy dogs are judged, they go into the ring with their handlers who follow the instructions of the judge. They may be asked to run around the ring, run in a triangle away from the judge, or straight away and back to the judge. At some point during the time in the ring, the judge will check the dog's structure by feeling his shape, looking at his head closely, checking his dentition, and for a boy - checking his "undermentionables". Papillons, being a toy dog, are put on a table for the judge's convenience.
At the end of the class judging the judge will place the dogs in order of merit. Once the baby puppies have been judged, the puppies go into the ring. All the classes are then judged in ascending order.
When all classes have been judged, the best dog in each class enters the ring for the judging of the Best dog. The judge will pick his Best and second ( or Reserve ) dog.
The same principles follow for judging of the bitches. Starting with baby puppies and continuing through all the classes to the bitch line-up, and the judge's choice of Best and Reserve bitch.
At this stage the judge has picked his Best and Reserve dog and bitch. He will now call back into the ring the Best dog and
Best bitch. He will make his pick for Best of Breed from these two. Once the Best of Breed has been chosen, the judge will be left with either the Best dog or Bitch. He will then call the Reserve of the opposite of sex into the ring to choose his Reserve of Breed.
After the Best of Breed judging, the best of each age class is judged. Some of the classes may be automatic depending on the results of the Best and Reserves of Breed. If there is a best baby puppy dog but not a best baby puppy bitch, then the baby puppy dog is automatically Best Baby Puppy. If the Best of Breed is from the Puppy class, then it will automatically become Best Puppy. Stud dog and brood bitch are not judged against each other.
There are different levels of shows. The first level is a Ribbon Parade. This is generally used as a training ground for dogs, handlers and judges. A little more advanced is an Open Show. A higher level judge officiates at Open Shows and generally the more experienced handlers. Many breed clubs hold Open Shows for their members as a semi-social occasion and to introduce new people to showing. The top level of show is a Championship Show. Most Kennel Associations will hold one or two Championship Shows each year. Often there are judges from overseas at these shows. These are the most fiercely contested shows because there are Challenge Certificates at stake for the Best Dog and Bitch of each breed. When a dog has attained 8 Challenge Certificates it is eligible for Champion Status. Champions can also aim for Awards of Merit and to be a Grand Champion. Neutered and speyed animals may be shown only at Ribbon Parades and Open Shows.