All across America, the Fourth of July weekend is celebrated with parades, picnics and fireworks. However, there is another “All American” event taking place this weekend in Dallas: a dog show.
If you are a dog enthusiast, or as they say in Britain where the dog show originated “dog fancy,” you may be heading to Dallas Market Hall for the All Breed Dog Show.
In 1877, Americans held the First Annual New York Bench Show of Dogs, which is now the oldest sporting competition in the U.S. except for the Kentucky Derby. The term “bench show” refers to the dog being on exhibit during the show even when the dog is not in the show ring.
Hi, I’m Wheels. You may already know me. I am a Boston Terrier and a special contributor to BubbleLife Media, and I am also a titled show dog. I am an American Kennel Club Champion.
People often ask me just what I did to become a champion. I earned points in conformation dog shows. Here’s how it works.
A conformation dog show, also referred to as a breed show, is a kind of dog show in which a judge, familiar with a specific breed, evaluates individual purebred dogs for how well the dog conforms to the established standard for that breed.
That was a muzzle-full, but basically it means that the judge considers physical characteristics of the dog such as head, ears, coat, tail, etc. as specified in the “breed standard”— the written word of how the dog should look.
The judge also considers “attitude” and he or she judges the dog on its gait, stance and general behavior.
The judge examines the dog up close (small dogs on a table and large breeds on the floor) for its bite and overall conformation.
After judging all of the dogs in the ring, the judge chooses a winner and as with most contests, selects a second, third and fourth place.
Winning dogs are allowed to continue competing for the title, “Best of Breed,” and that winner gets to compete in the final category,” Group” for the coveted title, “Best in Show.
“Wins” earns points. When a dog has received enough points (15) including two “wins” at “major shows,”— the dog earns the title of AKC champion. A major show is calculated by how many dogs are entered in the class for that breed.
That is a simplified explanation, but basically, that’s how it works! Now, let’s go to the dog show.
A dog show is a special event and the atmosphere is exciting. The show always begins by honoring our country with a performance of the National Anthem.
There are men in suits and ladies in dresses. Dressed to show, these people are “handlers” and they will be dashing about, often with a number on their sleeve and a dog on a “lead.”
The “officials” table will be decorated with flowers. White fencing divides the center of the floor into various show rings. Vendor booths selling every kind of dog paraphernalia imaginable will line the venue walls.
Adjacent to the show room is a crate and grooming room. It is fun to walk through this area because the dogs can be seen up close, getting groomed and ready to show.
I am a sort of “wash and wear breed.” As long as I am clean, my teeth brushed, coat shiny, nails trimmed and my face brilliant — I am good to go. But dogs with long coats and lots of fur like Dandy Dinmonts, Poodles and Afghan Hounds really get spiffed up. There is more combing, brushing, blow-drying and hair-spraying going on in the crate and grooming area than at a beauty shop.
Breeds are shown in categories called groups. The groups are Toy, Terrier, Sporting, Non-Sporting, Working, Herding and Hound. Within the various groups, there is likely a breed to appeal to everyone’s taste or “fancy.” I show in the “non-sporting” group.
Also showing in the non-sporting group is the popular French Bulldog, affectionately known as “The Frenchie.” The Frenchie is the breed that everyone thinks is “so cute” with the flat face and round “bat-like” ears.
Craig Reavis and Jerry Bradham of Beau Bouffon French Bulldogs have been showing dogs for 17 years.
“Just walking a dog around the ring is not all there is to producing a ‘show dog.’ It takes hours of diligent training on the part of the dog and handler to make it to the goal of AKC Champion,” Reavis said.
Reavis and Bradham join other owners and handlers at Top Dog in Garland for conformation classes to train their dogs and ready them for the show ring.
The Airedale Terrier, showing in the “Terrier” group, is known as the “King of Terriers.” Wiry, colorful coats, bearded faces with strong expression and “clown-like” behavior make them a joy to watch.
Anna Brinker, owner, breeder and handler of Bryndale Airedales in Dallas has shown and won at prestigious shows all across America, like Westminster in New York and Eukanuba in Florida.
Brinker says she finds joy in showing that comes from the training, travel and ring experience with her dog.
“Getting a championship requires a goal oriented performance — best achieved by the relationship and bond between the handler and the dog,” she said.
If you want some inexpensive entertainment this holiday weekend (Admission is $5.) plan to attend the dog show at Dallas Market Hall. It starts on Thursday and runs through Sunday afternoon. Sandwiches, snacks and beverages can be purchased at the show.
If you are interested in a particular breed, visit Jack Onofrio to see when that breed is showing. If you need help figuring it out, email my owner and we’ll look it up and send you the information. Contact us at email@example.com.
Wheels is a 5-year-old Boston terrier from Grant’s Pass, Oregon. He trained and worked hard with his owner to achieve his AKC championship in conformation. His registered name is Ch. Sunglo’s Cruisin’ in a Tuxedo.