The 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is right around the corner on February 15-16th. It’s one of the oldest sporting events to date and one of my all time favorite events to watch.
The show draws in dog lovers of all shapes and and sizes at Madison Square Garden in New York. It’s also one of the few dog shows that can be seen live on T.V. It’s a time to see all the top dogs compete for Best In Show and cheer for your favorite breed.
Over the years dog shows, Westminster in particular, because it’s the oldest and most publicized, have come under heavy scrutiny by the public. I’ve never hid the fact that I think all the trash talking is unjustified and that it’s basically uneducated opinions of people who have never taken the time to really understand the sport. One of the MANY reasons that I think it’s misunderstood is because there is a lot of people out there that have no clue what breed standard means.
Today I’d like to break that down and make it a little more clear.
What Is A Dog Show?
A dog show is a comparison of each dog to a judge’s mental image of the ideal breed type as outlined in the individual breed’s breed standard. This standard is interpreted by the judge in a conformation show according to the judge’s experience with the breed and the judge’s personal taste. Breed clubs and national kennel clubs provide regular seminars for the training of judges in the details of the individual breed standards and how they are interpreted.
What Is A Breed Standard?
A breed standard is a description written by the breed parent club that describes the dog’s looks, movement and temperament. It’s a mental picture of what the ideal dog of that breed should look like to be able to perform the function for which they were originated. “The purpose of a standard is to be a guide for breeders and judges. As such, it is important to keep in mind those features that make the breed unique, those qualities the breed must possess to do the job for which it was created. A standard should emphasize what is important in the breed. “
Who Decides What The Breed Standard Is?
Breed standards are written by individual breed parent clubs, and, if the breed club is a member of a national kennel club, the standard will go through a process of being approved by the national kennel club so that the members of the breed club can take part in the dog activities sponsored by the national kennel club. The national kennel club only directs the form of the breed standard, the breed standard itself is written by the breed parent club.
The breed standard that is written by the breed parent club is thought to be sacred and is not to be messed with. In fact the American Kennel Club makes it difficult for a breed parent club to alter the standard by considering revisions only every five years. Breeders are to breed to the existing standard, not alter it when it no longer suits them.
What Is A Breed Parent Club?
A breed parent club is the national club for a specific breed. It’s basically a portal for the breed. Breed parent clubs should be the number one resource for anyone looking for a specific breed of dog. Parent club websites generally provide information about the breed’s temperament, physical characteristics and health concerns. Most have breeder referral programs and rescue programs. Many provide extensive information on breed health including recommended books and trust-worthy websites.
They help fund health research programs for their breed through trust programs. They can provide breeder education and information on breed specific legislation. Many breed parent clubs have quarterly newsletters that they send out to members highlighting specific topics for that quarter. They also work with local breed clubs and many parent breed clubs host regional and national specialty shows. Nationals is a yearly dog show held just for that specific breed of dog. A national dog show draws breed fanciers from all over world and taking home a blue ribbon from one of these shows is considered one of the highest honors. What’s great about most national dog shows is that many of the breed parent clubs will offer a recap of the show in their quarterly newsletter. This will often highlight the judges opinions on what they observed at nationals. That could be what they saw consistently good in the breed and/or things that need to be improved that don’t conform to breed standards.
So What Does All That Mean?
Breed standards and breed parent clubs are important to every purebred dog and their owners should be aware of them.
My personal opinion: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
In at nutshell, most people don’t understand what a breed standard is or what a breed parent club is which brings out all the crazies around this time of the year. They are the ones who have no clue that breed standards even exist so they spew out all kinds of trash talking criticism. This is when the people that really understand dog shows and breed standards will sit back and shake their heads like they do every year. You see, they know what breed standards are, where to find them, what they mean and what the issues are. They are one step ahead of the crazies because they take the time to know and understand the breed. When they decided to take on the breed of dog they have, they educated themselves. They acquired their dogs from someone who knows and understands the breed standards. They donate to their health now and in the future. They are the ones doing, while the others are sitting back and talking trash.
For a list of breed parent clubs visit HERE.
If you’re looking for a purebred dog, check your breed parent club.
If you’re concerned about the status of a breed, reach out to someone from your breed parent club.
Want to make a change? Join your parent breed club and vote on important issues facing the breed. All members get a vote.
Tip: In my experience, most reputable breeders will link to their breed parent club on their website because they are proud members.
Are you thinking of heading to Westminster this year? Use code WKC1DOG to save 25% on select seats! Reserve your seats HERE!