There are many reasons for why people show within the UK.
A lot of people show because it is a lot of fun. Some show for the thrill of the competition,
others show because of the notoriety of winning and others show to prove the merits
of both their dogs and their breeding decisions.
Showing has a serious side to it.
Showing can assist with making correct breeding choices
which can increase the chances of a correct:
In the case of SOME breed GSD shows it can also provide:
- Easily available date on hip and elbow status
- Degree of line-breeding
- Working and temperament awards, etc
But this data is usually only provided at Seiger shows which
are NOT KC recognised shows.
By attending dog shows you can see supposedly some of the
best examples of the breed in at least the country (if not the world depending
upon the show that you are attending).
You can watch these dog’s reactions to different stimuli to
get an overview of its temperament.
This is especially so in the GSD breed where in the regional
shows & the British Seiger (which are NON KC recognised shows) there is a
mandatory gun shot test for all dogs over 12 months of age, and where dogs who
wish to obtain the highest grading (VA1) have to also have a working award
(SCH) alongside performing a test of courage and off lead gaiting at the show.
Technically if a GSD shows fear or aggression in the ring it
should be excused from the ring and / or not placed.
But unfortunately many other breed and non breed personal alongside
me have noticed that some judges will excuse abhorrent temperament
characteristics for this noble breed in favour of their preference for
TOP-LINE. Such judges should be looking
at the dog as a whole, but unfortunately they let their preference for a
top-line over rule the simple fact that for our breed temperament should come
before their top-line preferences.
Incorrect temperaments can exist within all types of this
breed, and so it is very important that a breeder tries to see a dog whose
lines they are interested in (alongside preferably its progeny) in their non
Movement / Aesthetics
Dogs can sometimes look better or worse in real life than
they do in their pictures, as pictures can be subject to the person who took
A picture also does not show you how a dog moves, as
sometimes a dog does not move as well as the picture may imply, and other times
a dog’s movement looks far better in real life than expected based on a picture.
When the dog is in the show ring you can watch the dogs move
including its fore and hind (including hock movement) and side movement.
Often at dog shows a breeder or other breeders will be
showing dogs with pedigree similarities, and often one can look at these dogs
to see whether or not these similarities can consistently be seen or if they
look to be more of a one off in a dog (a breeder should be looking for a dog
that not only has certain attributes, but which also consistently produces them
preferably when put to a wide range of lines).
This is especially true in the NON KC recognised Seiger
shows where some dogs have a progeny parade.
At breed Championship shows (NOT including shows where the
judges have a preference for the OLD ENGLISH type) the judges often also
include a verbal critique, and not only can this assist with the information
that one can accumulate about a dog, but it can point out ‘hidden’ faults such
as missing teeth that only a judge or owner would have an opportunity to see.
Verbal critiques are often given for the whole class (unless
an owner removes their dog prior to them being given) at breed shows (NOT
including shows where the judges have a preference for the OLD ENGLISH type),
as opposed to written critiques which can sometimes be missing for some shows,
and other times are only given to the best of breed or 1st – 3rdplaced dogs (not very helpful in a class containing 20 + dogs).
Also although an owner may not agree with everything said
the verbal critiques can also help ensure that a judge is capable of publicly justifying their
decisions. Especially as their decisions
and reasoning behind these decisions (honourable or not if you are led to
believe the rumours that are said about other breeds including occasionally our
own breed) can be a lot easier to hide when the judge does not have to justify
all of their decisions.
These critiques can also be very helpful as well with
assisting a newcomer who has the comments and dog ‘live in person’ to directly
look at as a visual reminder of what a judge thought of it.
These verbal critiques alongside a grading per dog are given
in Europe, and thankfully breed shows.
But technically they are not supposed to be given under KC
ruling which is why they are usually absent at even General Championship shows
where the KC enforce their rules most vigorously.
Showing can also help prevent ‘kennel blindness’.
Kennel blindness occurs when a breeder thinks that their
dogs are some of the best in the world in terms of either their construction
and / or working abilities when in fact they would never ever win if they were
Sometimes the ability to win can be marred by other factors
such as the abilities of a dog’s handler (etc.), but at the end of most breed
Championship and open shows (NOT including shows where the judges have a
preference for the OLD ENGLISH type) the judge will give a verbal critique of
ALL of the dogs (as opposed to general open shows where even if you take a best
of breed you can be sometimes lucky to get a written critique in the
If this verbal critique matches your own in most if not all
shows then you can justify your comments upon your dog.
Proving the merits of
If your dog consistently obtains a certain show grading
(which are given at GSD breed and Championship shows NOT including shows where
the judges have a preference for the OLD ENGLISH type) then you can justify
your overall opinion of your dog when it is taken in comparison to other dogs
within its breed in either the country or the world depending upon the show
that you attended.
In the GSD breed a grading can sometimes be more important
than your place.
For example you could be 1st in a class of 50
proving that you are the best out of 50 dogs usually of a particular sex and
However if all of these dogs are graded U (unsatisfactory)
as opposed to VP (Very promising which is the highest grade for a puppy) then
all that you have proven is that you are the best of a bad bunch.
Some breeders will not show in breed shows where they know
that their dogs will be graded because they are aware that their possible UK
Champion will neither be likely to get a high placing or grading.
This is not because of their claims that the judges are
‘prejudiced’ against their types as there are numerous judges who offer grading
who will look beyond ‘type’.
It is instead because unfortunately a large proportion of
people who breed this ‘type’ have let their preferences for ‘type’ which
includes the dog’s top-line commonly over rule what should be their selection
against common temperament and confirmation faults that exist within their
‘type’ (as opposed to out crossing to another type to correct these faults
whilst increasing genetic diversity within their own ‘type’).
So although their dogs can commonly offer rarer and desired
conformational features when compared as a whole to the other type as a whole
they are not as good a representative of what the breed standard should represent,
and thus they are not likely to get as high a grading and placement when
competing against dogs of the other type.
In Europe people whom own and show differing ‘types’ of GSD
still often show within the Seiger show so as to obtain a placement and grading
(etc.). Some of these types do better or
worse depending on their confirmation, movement, etc.
Such people should be commended for sticking their necks
above the parapet and getting a grading as well as a placing, as opposed to
those who prefer to stick to ‘their own’ whilst proving to the world that they
own the best of ‘their type’ but not necessarily the best example of the breed standard
in the country let alone the world, etc.
Further reasons for
why people show
Some people wish to further prove not only their opinions
and breeding decisions, but they also wish to prove that:
dog is a very good example of the breed
dog is a better example than other examples of its breed that were shown
on the day
of judges think that their dog is a very good example of the breed (a
judge can withhold an award even in examples of ‘glorified last places’).
dog is one of the best of its age group and sex.
dog is one of the best producers in at least the country if not the world
They can do this by displaying a dog’s show results
(including 1st – 5th, best puppy in breed, best of
breed, RCC, CC winners and group placements)
A dog can become a:
certificate of merit holder
/ Seigerin, Vice Seiger / Seigerin, Junior Seiger / Segerin (GSD only; non
KC recognised shows held in the UK & Europe)
Its overall results for a year including whether or not it
is for its breed the:
puppy bitch / dog
bitch / dog
dam / stud dog
Some breeds are rumoured to be less honest than others when it comes to judging.
‘Type’ / top-line issues aside as a whole the GSD breed is a very
honest breed when it comes to judging.
Yes sometimes things are reported to not always be as honest
as they should be within the GSD breed, but as a general rule of thumb this is
a VERY good breed to be in when it comes to getting an honest appraisal of your
dog by breed judges.
I would also like to add that yes sometimes concepts and
interpretations of a breed standard can be taken more into their ‘extreme’ in
terms of for example red pigmentation being as dark as possible which can
assist with catching a judge’s eye.
But at the end of the day it is up to you to decide what
your opinion of the breed standard is, and if you do not think that these
extremes are correct then you do not have to breed for them.
Yes this can affect your show placements, but as explained
above not everyone in the show ring is showing to win.
Don’t get me wrong it is lovely to win, and it can be
challenging to get your dog to present its attributes to its best advantage.
But not everyone is showing to win, and instead some are
showing as a way of:
in person a wide verity of dogs which can be directly compared to each
in person their own dog directly to others
an opinion of their dog which hopefully coincides and provides evidence
for their own opinion
Personally my ideal representation of the breed standard is
a relatively LEVEL top-line.
When crossing the different types sometimes you gain one common
attribute of one ‘type’ of GSD in one generation whilst loosing another common attribute
from the other ‘type’ maybe for a generation or more. The lost attribute may be something that
appeals to judges, and so although with time this attribute may come back whilst
maintaining a gained lesser common attribute from the other ‘type’ of GSD in the
meantime not all of the subsequent generations will excel within the
confirmation show rings.
Such breeding attempts are often a lot of hard work, time
consuming and expensive with often little to show for the first few
generations, and other times the lines may not gel and a breeder has to go back
a step or so.
Often others judge a breeder on their showing success (be it
in the confirmation or working rings), and so even if they do not naturally
have a competitive nature it may be this alongside the financial and time
expenses that results in less breeders committing to attempting to produce a
GSD that is an ideal representation of the breed standard which would excel in
both the confirmation and working rings.
It is still VERY hard for even the most successful of breeders to achieve top honours in either the breed confirmation ring or the
working ring with lines that are specifically designed for this job only
without trying to produce a dog that would excel in both.
This is especially so when the lines that currently exist
for the breed as so diverse and so differing in type that sometimes attempts to
cross them can almost be like crossing two different breeds.
Unless a breeder is someone in for example their 80’s who
has made up a lot of successful dogs into Champions that preferably also excelled
in both confirmation and working tests and who still takes an active interest
in the breed, but whom because of age or health related issues can no longer
show there is:
NO excuse for why someone who breeds
has not been active in one of the following within at least a 2 year period:
KC RECOGNISED (i.e. NOT fun shows) confirmation / obedience
/ working trials / agility open & Championship shows
AND / OR for the GSD breed
British or worldwide SEIGER shows
AND / OR
Although showing can be relatively cheap for those who just
wish to have a bit of fun and get a pretty rosette or two if it is done
properly it can be VERY time
consuming and VERY expensive.
- There is usually at least 1 show a week that a breeder can
attend (although a breeder obviously does not need to attend these, and no
doubt will not do so due to the large expenses and time it would take up), and
these numbers can go up to 2 – 3 shows per week depending upon the time of
year. Shows in the UK alone can range from Fife to Bournemouth, etc.
- Most people obtain a catalogue to see who is in their class,
make notes of placements, make notes on the dogs they see, etc.
- All shows charge an entry fee for the dog which for some
shows has to be sent months in advance, and so if anything comes up on the day
of the show (such as your dog coming into season, loosing its coat, etc.) you
loose your entry and catalogue fee.
- Some shows such as agricultural shows expect a minimum entry
(i.e. one dog one free pass) otherwise additional people get charged an entry
- Other shows charge for parking; although this rarer than it
- Then for the GSD breed if you wish for your dog to have a
fairer sporting chance of doing well you need a handler.
- Entry fees can range from £4 - £25 per entry per dog depending
upon the show
- Catalogues are usually around the £3 - £5 mark
- Handlers can range from £10 - £20 - £45 + per dog per class
mark (if your dog wins its class and then goes in for the challenge for best
puppy in breed and / or best of breed you have to pay this amount twice over,
and it is etiquette to ‘tip’ the handler if they obtain a very good win
at certain shows)
- Of course a very large expense is petrol as most shows are a
several hundred mile round trip.
- Then some people will need dog sitters for dogs left at home
- Of course you need small amounts of equipment including dog
grooming products to make your dog look its best
- Often you have to purchase your ribbon as a lot of shows
just give pieces of cardboard with your result on it (although breed shows
commonly give rosettes, trophies, etc.)
- In addition to this as the breed is shown in a particular
way at breed shows you have to attend breed ring training classes if you wish
to show at breed as opposed to general shows.
Most of these clubs are unfortunately few and far between,
and so although the clubs commonly only ask for an annual membership alongside a few pounds per dog per week
it once again can be a large expense in terms of petrol, as most show goers
will regularly go to at least one training club a week which is around a 80 - 100
– 160 mile trip depending on their location in the country.
- If you wish to see your written critique you then usually
need membership for at least your breed magazine (£50 annually) AND a general
dog magazine (£59.95 for website only - £100 for newspaper only prices correct
at time of printing).
Campaigning a dog or two in breed and general shows WITHOUT
taking show training classes into consideration easily even in 6 months can
easily COST WELL OVER A THOUSAND POUNDS, as well as taking up the majority of
most of your weekends and a few days during the week (so that will also be time
off work for anyone with a partner who works as most dogs of this breed need at
least both of their owners at a breed show).
Now if this dog is a puppy, and an owner has retained it for
both showing with the hope that if it maintains its potential that they can
continue to develop their lines from it they may then spend a further £300 +
hip and elbow and haemophilia testing it only to discover it does NOT have good enough hip and elbows,
Thus it should hopefully not take a genius to work out why
many breeders do not show.
Breeders who do not show in KC recognised shows and / or GSD
Seiger shows and / or UK SCH competitions will be:
on pictures and possibly hear say for temperament, confirmation, and
movement assessment (next to never reliable due to ‘competition’ politics)
some degree minimising time spent researching within the breed as
travelling to shows takes up a lot of time)
directly comparing their own dogs to others in the breed in at least the
proving that they are not becoming ‘kennel blind’
If a breeder is NOT regularly competing in either KC
recognised obedience and / or working trials competitions and / or SCH
competitions, and they say:
“Look I don’t like what is being promoted right now”
The reasons for this appear to be justifiable when the breed
standard is taken into consideration & you agree with their opinion in
terms of their representation of the breed standard
They still attend either KC recognised breed confirmation
shows and / or Seiger shows
They hip and elbow score and haemophilia test (etc.) their
dogs prior to breeding, use dogs with appropriate hip and elbow results, etc.
Then at least as long as they do this you will know that you
have increased your chances of discovering a breeder whom is looking at the dog
as whole which includes its:
including stance, movement, and aesthetics
Then depending upon what you are looking for you may also
look for a breeder who is interested in the working aspect of the dog.
But in an attempt to keeps things on track in relation to
discussing the topic of confirmation shows I will discuss that subject another
day on another page.
I hope that this
article was of some assistance?
I hope that the information listed above has been of some
assistance on why showing is not all about trying to win as many ribbons as
possible and why everyone who attends them is NOT attempting to produce extreme
examples of the breed standard?
With all of the recent press I thought that it was important
to explain why not everyone and every person who shows every breed only shows
with the sole aim of wining and winning alone what ever the detriment is to the
breed and the dogs themselves via developing extremes within them.
I would also like to finish off by pointing out that the GSD
breed standard is a blue print that describes a dog that is designed to WORK
For a dog to be capable of working all day it has to be:
- VERY good temperament
- Confirmation & Movement
Also although in the GSD breed aesthetics are of secondary
importance they would also be perfected in the ideal dog.
Thus if a judge is looking for a dog in a class that most
embodies the breed standard they should be looking for a dog that appears to
- Of an excellent temperament (unfortunately commonly missing
within one type of GSD & excused by judges who are blinded by their
preference of top-line & ‘type’ as opposed to looking at the whole dog)
- Has excellent confirmation that corresponds to its excellent
- Have no major breed faults (i.e. these can be images one
associates with the image of a GSD such as 2 ears up)
At a NON KC recognised confirmation show (excluding WALCS,
companion, etc. shows where the following data is not looked at by a judge)
health and temperament can especially be taken into consideration.
This is because unlike at KC recognised shows a GSD judge
has access to data resulting from a dog’s following tests:
- Pedigree (including line breeding)
- Gun shot test on the day