Dog shows conjure images of dogs jumping through hoops and blue ribbons, but that’s just scratching the surface. Adrian Woodfork of Sacramento, California, has been a licensed American Kennel Club (AKC) judge of show dogs for the past three years. The 51-year-old freelance video producer-media consultant has judged shows all over the United States, in Canada, the Philippines, and in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“There are three types of competition-conformation, obedience, and agility. The agility ring is the one many people are familiar with, where dogs go through various exercises and around obstacles,” says Woodfork.
The obedience ring is where dogs are given signals to obey, and the conformation ring is where dogs compete with others of the same breed to find the best specimen of that breed-a type of canine beauty pageant. This is the ring Woodfork judges. “Each breed has AKC standards, physical standards based on bone structure, shape, movement, temperament, and condition. A judge selects the dog that comes as close to the standard as possible.” Woodfork explains.
Woodfork has this advice, whether you’re interested in a show dog or a family pet: “Pick a breed that you like and learn as much about it as you can so you know what to look for when purchasing a dog. At shows, ask owners and handlers about who breeds the champions of the dog you like, then contact that breeder,” he says. “Never purchase a dog over the Internet!” Woodfork warns. “There’s no way of judging the quality of the dog you’re getting.”
Nutrition and exercise are also extremely important for show dogs. Woodfork recommends buying premium dog foods and establishing a regular exercise schedule for your dog. Exercise is essential not only for a strong, healthy dog, but for a happy one as well.
The purchase price of breeds varies. Show puppies cost less than mature dogs, and females can cost more than males. Dobermans, which can sell for up to $3,000, are one of the more expensive breeds. Dachshunds, one of the lower-end breeds, can sell for up to $1,000.
The sport of pure-bred dogs and dog shows isn’t an interest you can take up overnight. There’s a lot to learn and you have to have some disposable income. But Woodfork says that even if you don’t buy a dog to show, owning one, or any pet for that matter, is “mentally enriching,” and he recommends it highly.
Attend dog shows
Contact the kennel club in your area to find out about upcoming shows. Also, refer to the American Kennel Club magazine for a calendar of events.
Surf the net
American Kennel Club, www.akc.org
The Actual Dog Show, http://users.neca.com/szeder/dogshoh.html
Dogs Worldwide, www.dogsworldwide.com
Show Me! A Dog Showing Primer by D. Caroline Coile, (Barrons Educational Series, $9.95)
Dog Showing for Beginners by Lynn Hall, (IDG BooksWorldwide, $19.95)
The 2000 Dog Show Guide by Julie Heiman (Dog Show Annual, $9.95)