Diavolino Italian Greyhounds

                                                                                      ...world reknowned show dogs and world class companions

 
                                             
 
 

Showing Your IG

So you think you might want to start showing dogs! It looks like a lot of fun and the ribbons are so pretty! Besides, you've seen it on TV... how hard can it be to walk around the ring and get a ribbon?

Ohhhhhh.... trust me.  It can be really hard.  There is way more to showing that just walking in and getting a ribbon.  Let me help you.

First, make sure you want to show because YOU want to show, not because your breeder is forcing you into it.

Second, make sure the dog you are going to show is actually worth showing.  I know we all think our dog is the most beautiful creature on the planet, but in most cases, our treasured dog is anywhere from mediocre to nice as far as the Standard is concerned.  There are very few truly outstanding dogs out there, so don't be offended if yours isn't one of them.

Third, learn as much as you can about how to do it and how the process works.

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Do you really want to show? Well... do you have any self confidence? If you are overly arrogant and an instant know-it-all, people will dislike you. If you are relying on your dog's wins to boost your self confidence, you will never feel whole. If a judge or another exhibitor tells you that your dog isn't show quality, will you ask why and learn from it, will you burst into tears and stop showing forever, or will you call them an idiot and tell all your friends the judge or other exhibitor has no idea what a good IG is?

There are four stages to dog showing.  The first is "Oh My God I know nothing!" (usually the first 2-3 years).  That's the stage where people help you and like you.  The second stage is "I know everything, no-one needs to tell me anything!"  (usually the 3rd to 6th or 7th year).   That's when no-one likes you anymore because  ... well.. sometimes people in   this stage  get kind of obnoxious.    Then the third stage is "Oh My God I know nothing all over again"  That's the stage where you start gaining the respect of the old timers in the breed, the stage where you acknowledge that the old fogies maybe knew something, that you start respecting and appreciating a variety of thoughts and opinions.  It's when you start getting consistency in your results both in the ring and the whelping box, the stage where you know a good dog will lose sometimes when it shouldn't and a lesser dog will win sometimes when it shouldn't.  It's the stage where you don't need a ribbon to tell you how good your dog is or is not.  That stage varies in length, can last anywhere up to your 15th year.  The last stage, usually around your 15th to 20th year in dog shows, is the stage where you know you will never know it all, but you also know that you've done a good job so far.  It is the stage where you have the confidence to drop it all and start over if a problem arises, it is the stage where you are secure enough in your dogs to share health issues with other breeders.  It is the stage where you are able to mentor someone and be confident in doing it. 

Ironically, when you have reached the last stage is the time when people in the second stage think they know more than you and they may insult you or ridicule you.  The simple truth is, there is only one way to gain 20 years experience, and it takes about... oh... about 20 years.

Now, that doesn't mean you won't be an important contributor to the dog show game, but it's a heads up to maybe stop you from getting stuck in Stage 2 for too long!  And we all go through it, no-one is immune.  But you have the control over how long you're in it.

So, your confidence is good, you understand the stages.  Now, do you like spending week-ends in seedy motels and having to wake up at 4 am to get to the 8 am ring call?  You are required to be on the grounds 1 hour before ring time, so if you're scheduled for 8 am, you have to be on the grounds by 7 am.    Allow driving time, breakfast time (usually Tim Horton's or McDonald's), finding a parking spot time (often the largest obstacle of the day), grooming time, etc etc etc.  Unless you are one of the lucky few who has a lot of shows in their hometown, you can guarantee you'll spend a lot of time in lousy motels.  The good ones won't let us in anymore as too many dog people take advantage and leave messes, groom in the rooms, don't pick up after their dogs.  If you're staying in a motel, you had better be responsible about it.

And the shows?  Don't kid yourself... they aren't all Westminster Kennel Club with the carpets and the fancy dresses and the bright lights.  More often than not, they are in a dark Agricultural Exhibition hall, with dirty cement floors, sometimes even dirt floors, poor lighting and inadequate bathroom facilities.  Either that or they are outdoors with uneven footing, no cover in case of rain and *gasp* PortaPotties!

A lot of long term exhibitors end up needing knee surgeries or replacements.  Seriously.  Funny how the older I get and the longer I show, the more I'm inclined to teach my dogs to 'free bait' so I don't have to kneel down with them.

Do you like to drive?  Because inevitably you will spend many week-ends travelling hours away, usually leaving at the crack of dawn and getting home in the dark of night. 

Is your marriage secure?  Unless your spouse/partner travels with you, there will be many week-ends where the other person is home alone.  What about children?  Will they come with you or stay at home with the other parent?

You see, it is unlikely that a novice exhibitor will do very well at dog shows showing only here and there.  Especially in Italian Greyhounds where competition might be scarce.  Too many newcomers get discouraged and quit due to lack of success, when in reality, if they devoted just a bit more time into it, the results might have been different.

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Do you plan to start showing a dog you already have, or are you looking to buy a show dog?

In order to be shown, your dog must be American or Canadian Kennel Club registered (AKC if you show in the US, CKC if you show in Canada).  Your dog must also adhere as closely as possible to the breed standard.  We'll get into that later, on the page "Judging the Italian Greyhound".

As said earlier, we all would like to think our dogs are perfect, but the perfect dog does not exist.  That's why the same dog doesn't win every day at every show... because some judges like certain parts of some dogs better than other dogs.  When the perfect dog is born, I'll give up forever.  Even if I produced it myself.  Anyone who tells you there dog is perfect is either a liar or disillusioned.  Having said that, every time you go into the ring, go in with the belief that you have the best dog that ever walked the earth.  The confidence will do you good and the dog will feel it.

If you bought your dog at a petstore, chances are it's not of a quality worth showing as all petstore puppies come from Backyard Breeders or Puppymills.  If you got your puppy from a site that allows you to pick it out and pay online, chances are, it is not of a quality worth showing.  Not only will the show quality be in question, by showing your dog you would be promoting irresponsible breeders.  Even if you were fortunate to get it's Championship, if you were hoping that others would want to breed to your new Champion, any reputable breeder would look at the pedigree and refuse to breed to it.

If you bought your dog from a reputable breeder as a companion, the breeder would have had you sign a contract to have the dog spayed or neutered.  You can only show intact dogs, so if your dog is altered, it is ineligible to show, except at Specialties.  Do not decide to simply ignore the agreement, not alter it, and show it anyway.   If you really truly believe the dog is show quality, contact your breeder.  He or she will be happy to evaluate it and see if it is show quality or not.  At that time they may agree to amend the contract to allow you to show it (but don't be surprised if they put their name back on as a co-owner to protect the dog since it is now remaining intact).

Respect your breeder's decision.  As a breeder, I only want the best dogs out there representing my bloodline.  Not every dog I produce is capable of winning Best in Shows, heck, not every one is even Championship quality.  However, if your breeder senses a serious interest on your part, but evaluates the dog and determine it should not be shown, they may be open to letting you have a show quality puppy on the next go-round.  Use that time to learn as much about showing dogs as you can.

If you bought the puppy as a show prospect, well, you're ahead of the game!

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If you have decided to buy a show dog, there's a couple of pieces of advice I will give you.

One:  Don't try to find the bargain basement show dog.  If you are a novice, you will already have a handicap of being a novice, so you need the best dog you can find. This is  not   the place to save money.  Additionally, if you are getting into showing, there is a really good chance you may get into breeding, and this show prospect could very likely be your foundation.  You don't want to build a house on a weak foundation.  That doesn't mean spend money just because   you can... big dollar value does not always mean the best puppy.    But if you find a really good prospect, don't be turned away by the price if the puppy is worth it.    There are some breeders charging   $2000 for a pet puppy... well that is just plain ridiculous!  While a good show prospect could cost you that much or more, a pet puppy shouldn't!!

Two:  Go to an experienced breeder.  And by experienced I don't mean someone who cranks out a zillion puppies, I mean someone who has a history over many years of producing consistent, well thought out and well bred, healthy, winning dogs.  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against a new breeder.  In fact, I once was one.  However,   they simply don't have the background to make those educated decisions about what is show quality in a puppy and what is not.  You will rarely see an experienced breeder claim the whole litter is show quality (because    in the   real world, that rarely happens - there is almost always at least one that shouldn't be in the show ring  !).  But a newer breeder will exclaim to the world   how the whole litter is destined for the show ring!  Part of it is being blinded by adoration of their own puppies, part of it is simply because   they don't know how these puppies are going to grow up.  It takes many generations of watching your bloodline develop and mature to be able to accurately judge a puppy's potential.  Now, if you have an experienced breeder to mentor you who can evaluate the puppies as an unbiased    third party, then absolutely you can consider a puppy from a newer breeder.

Three:  Don't buy a baby puppy.  Baby puppies are always a risk.  The stunning future superstar   can have the adult teeth come in with no enamel, it can go oversize, it can end up with what I call 'artistic' ears or it can simply just go 'off'.  Ideally, you would buy a puppy who is well socialized, has it's adult teeth, and is started  in training.  Don't let anyone tell you a puppy needs to be 8 weeks old to bond with you.  That's a crock.  One of the dogs that loves me the most I didn't get until she was nearly 3.

Four:  This actually applies to every thing about buying an IG... don't buy from a petstore, a puppymill, a backyard breeder or a website with pay now options.  Even if they show their dogs, they simply aren't worth the risk.  I can think of more than a few beautiful IGs who have come from showmills... there's no denying they are beautiful, but not a risk I would be willing to take adding those pedigrees into my bloodline.

Five:  Buy more than just the puppy on the outside.  Study the pedigree.  You want to see a pattern of Champions and health testing.  As I have said before and will always say, the occasional   use of a non-Champion dog is one thing, but repeated breeding of non-Champions would cause me to walk away.  You want to see a history of breedings that make sense.  Is it just any old dog to any other dog?  Or can you see a pattern in what the breeder is trying to do?  Feel free to ask the breeder why each breeding was done, what was the goal behind that breeding decision.  Feel free to take some time to study the pedigree, and share it with other experienced enthusiasts who can help you to understand and know the pedigree.

Six:  Take your time.  You want the 'right' puppy to start your show career with.  Rushing into it may leave you further behind than waiting... even if it takes a year for the right show puppy.  Would you rather a mediocre puppy who takes over a year to finish, or a spectacular one that you wait 6 months for but finishes in 2 week-ends?  Any breeder that gets pushy about selling you a show puppy, walk away.  You don't need that.

Seven:  Be prepared to have to co-own any puppy you buy that is allowed to remain intact.  I can honestly say that I don't know of any reputable breeders who sell their show prospects outright.  I may be wrong, but right now I can't think of any.  The reason we do this is because   we are protecting our bloodline.    We are seeing more and more reputable bloodlines in puppymill pedigrees because people aren't honouring agreements, and aren't being as careful as they should about where puppies go.  So now most breeders co-own the dog with you and have you sign a contract outlining the responsibilities   of each party.  In most circumstances, the purchasing owner retains physical custody and is in charge of the day to day decisions.  The co-owner/breeder   usually retains a say in when the dog is bred and to whom, and has input into the placement of any resulting puppies.

OK, I guess that was more than a couple of hints.  Oops.

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Join your local dog club, be it All Breed or your breed. If you don't know where to find one, ask your veterinarian. They usually know which clubs are in your area. Attend Conformation Handling classes, and go to as many shows to observe as you can. Offer to help other club members. One important thing to remember when going to a dog show as an observer - most exhibitors are really quite friendly and we love to talk about our dogs - AFTER we've been in the ring! Please, let the person you're speaking to know that you'd like to talk to them, and ask when is a good time. We need to get into a 'zone' before we compete, so please respect that. We may not look like we're doing anything when we're standing there ringside, but we are establishing a communication with our dogs or psyching ourselves up and breaking that concentration can mess us up! Many times people criticize dog show people as curt and unfriendly, but that's usually because people come up to us when we are preparing to go into the ring and don't respect our need for concentration.

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Use the following links, the 'Next' button or the drop-down menu to go to the next sections:

Understanding Dog Shows  

Entering A Dog Show

The Day of The Dog Show

How Do I Show My Dog?

What Equipment Do I Need?

After The Championship

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