Dog Shows: An Inside Look - Interviews with Expert and Participant
In 1994, I graduated from the courses and qualified as an expert dog handler for a number of breeds from the 3rd group (terriers). Terriers are my specialty. But at present I prefer not to develop as an expert, expanding the list of breeds, but to exhibit my dog.
How does refereeing at exhibitions go? Who is invited to judge dog shows?
Most often, those experts who have the right to judge a large number of breeds are invited to all-breed exhibitions, since it is extremely difficult and expensive to invite specialists in each breed. Therefore, the highest category of experts is called “All round”, that is, an expert on all 10 FCI groups, who can judge all breed groups.
The organizers are trying to invite experts who have proven themselves well, do not make mistakes. It is important that participants are satisfied with the work of experts (although, of course, there are always those who are dissatisfied - these are losers). There are expert ratings that are even published on certain sites where both positive and negative reviews of exhibitors are collected.
How many experts judge the breed in the ring and can those who are dissatisfied challenge the decision of the judge?
Refereeing at dog shows is sole. The expert’s decision is final and not subject to appeal.
Who is more at Belarusian exhibitions: Belarusian or foreign experts?
The fact is that in order to get a champion title, a dog must receive certificates of a candidate for champion of Belarus or a candidate for international champion from various experts. Therefore, foreign experts are invited for examination.
As a rule, experts from closer countries (Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland) come to national exhibitions. At international exhibitions, where the title of candidate for international beauty champions is awarded, there are experts very far away (Japan, Spain, Portugal, etc.)
Experts also come from the UK, as Belarus got the right to hold qualifying shows for Crufts several years ago - this is the most prestigious international dog show (you can only get on it by winning the qualification show or the World or European Championship or being the International Champion) and the main dog show Great Britain. Therefore, one or more UK experts are often present at international Crufts-qualified exhibitions.
Who is more at international dog shows: Belarusian participants or visitors?
There are probably more visiting exhibitors at international exhibitions: we are very conveniently located from a geographical point of view.
There are many Belarusian participants at international exhibitions in Belarus, however, if my dog has 4 or 5 titles from international Belarusian exhibitions, then there is no sense in participating in all. This is my point. I really like exhibitions, but try not to turn into a collector of titles. The Belarusian Cynological Society, of course, is interested in participating in international exhibitions of Belarusian dogs and encourages such participation - in addition to the usual final contests, our international exhibitions also host a special competition "Zorka Belarus" - for dogs that were born and live in Belarus and became this day the best representatives of his breed.
The International Canine Federation website publishes a calendar of international exhibitions in all countries for the year ahead. This is very convenient, since any dog handler can pre-compile a travel calendar. Also now there is the opportunity to register for exhibitions online and find out all the conditions.
What does a dog need to become an international beauty champion?
To become an international beauty champion, a dog must win 4 international exhibitions in 3 countries under 3 experts, and at least 1 year and 1 day must pass between the first and last exhibition. This is a general rule that ensures that the dog is in good shape for a long time and wins in different countries. Moreover, even at World and European Championships, only 1 CACIB is also assigned. The second option - for working breed dogs - an international work certificate and two CACIB certificates also for one year and one day.
If only 1 member of the breed participates in the ring, does he necessarily get the title?
Everything is at the discretion of the expert: he may award the title, or may not award it - and this is not uncommon. A dog can leave with a rating of “good”, “very good” or “satisfactory”. Titles and ratings are in no way related to the number of dogs in the ring.
What are the parameters of dogs evaluated at the shows?
There are 3 main parameters:
- Anatomy - the correspondence of the exterior to the ideal of the breed, which is described in the standard.
- Behavior. Some respected judges forget about this parameter, but in vain. The animal must demonstrate appropriate breed temperament, in no case be timid, aggressive, etc. This is what I am very tough on.
- Physical form. The exhibition is not only a zootechnical event, but also a show, and the dog must be in good physical shape, healthy, with good hair.
In the photo: airedale terrier
Why can a dog be disqualified?
The standard of each breed describes disqualifying defects.
In some standards, the absence of teeth is not allowed, and some countries (for example, Great Britain) do not indicate the number of teeth that can be considered a disqualifying defect. It is enough there to have incisors and fangs, and then - at the discretion of the expert.
There must be 2 testes. The absence of one or both testes is a clear disqualification.
In addition, in almost all breed standards, dogs are disqualified for displaying atypical behavior: cowardly or aggressive.
They are subject to removal of the dog in whose appearance any changes have been made: painted, with surgical correction, etc. This is an attempt to mislead an expert.
All the rest is flaws and shortcomings that affect the assessment, but not the participation in the exhibition.
In the photo: airedale at the exhibition
And if the dog is late in the ring?
She can be described and rated in the break after the show, but she can no longer participate in the competition. Therefore, at the exhibition you need to carefully monitor the time.
If you compare Belarusian and foreign exhibitions, are there any differences?
I would say that, especially in recent years, our exhibitions are held at a very good level.
The main difference, perhaps, is the absence of such venues for exhibitions, which are in Europe. I really love European exhibitions, and in almost every major city in the same Austria or Germany, Poland or the Baltic States there are huge exhibition or sports centers where dogs are spacious and calmly run. We physically do not have such a place and it is very crowded at exhibitions.
The second difference that catches your eye when you go to exhibitions in Europe as a participant is that we have much more women among the participants. I think this is again due to not the best conditions (cramped and painful pastime between the rings). There are a lot of men at exhibitions in Europe. There, people come to the exhibitions as families, there is always a tasty catering - in general, everything is for a person.
Probably, in Europe there is more communication between breeders - we have more isolated people.
In our country, diplomas are issued immediately and, if your dog does not reach the final, you can leave. In a number of European countries, if your dog reached the final, they simply won’t give you the diploma until you enter the competition and show the dog to all the spectators. And, as a rule, diplomas are issued to all other participants after 2 pm, so that exhibition visitors can see all the dogs. Therefore, they have very widespread communication between participants who have already shown their dogs and are resting. In our exhibitions, this, in my opinion, is a little lacking.
Another difference is that in Belarus the society treats dogs worse. Perhaps we are partly to blame for this, because far from all, for example, clean up after their dogs, in contrast to Europe itself. When, for example, an exhibition ends in Germany, there remains a clear space, as if several thousand dogs were not there - this is also a difference, although the question is not with the organizers of the exhibitions, but with the participants.
As for the level of expertise, prize pool, organization, entertainment of the final competitions, our exhibitions are fully consistent with European.
In the photo: airedale at the exhibition
Is it expensive to participate in dog shows?
In his own country, in general, not particularly. Traveling is, of course, always expensive. We must be aware that if there is a desire and the dog matches the level, for example, of an international beauty champion, then this is costly.
If a person takes a dog to participate in exhibitions, what costs should he prepare for?
Good feeding, good veterinary care, perhaps the services of a trainer.
If a person wants to learn to exhibit a dog himself, then he will need a ring-training trainer.
If he does not want to learn, but wants to admire his dog from the side, then he will have to pay for the services of a handler.
If this is a groomer breed, then grooming is a very expensive business. For example, in my favorite breed the Airedale Terrier, it is probably easier to learn how to cook a dog yourself, because it is very expensive, since grooming with Airedale Terriers is an extremely time-consuming and time-consuming task.
In the photo: grooming airedale
Plus, the trip itself: a fee for participation in the exhibition, road, hotel accommodation. It’s difficult to immediately get into the ring from the wheels, and we always try to arrive early, get enough sleep, prepare a dog in the morning and then set out.
Let's just say this is a very nice way to spend money, but it's a pretty expensive hobby.
Is it easy to find a hotel where you can live with a dog?
In Europe - elementary. Yes, now in Russia you can find such a hotel, and some of us let dogs in. With the advent of online booking services, this has ceased to be a problem - it always indicates whether animals are allowed.
How are dogs trained to exhibit?
I would say that a high-level show dog should be prepared from an early puppy's age.
The animal must have very good contact with the owner and handler, it must be very human-oriented, even somewhat spoiled and impudent, because squeezing in the ring is unacceptable. If the dog expects to “fly in” in case of an error, it will never be displayed as it should.
Of course, you need to look for a good handler. And if it’s enough to deal with the handler once every 1 to 2 weeks, then yourself, if you want to learn how to exhibit a dog, you need to practice almost every day.
But still, the main thing is desire. Such a hobby as cynology, by and large, is very democratic. Yes, it requires a certain amount of money, but any healthy person is able to earn it. As for age and other characteristics - everyone can learn to beautifully exhibit his dog, move correctly and not make mistakes. There should be no complexes that only thin, pretty girls can be handlers - nothing like that.
Does a handler need to specialize in specific breeds or are there anyone who can work with any dog?
There are talents that can show absolutely any dog. But you do not need to wait for a miracle and think that even the best handler, seeing your dog for the first or second time in his life, will show it perfectly. Until the handler finds contact with a particular dog, nothing will happen. Anyway, some time for classes is necessary.
Unfortunately, there are often “pseudo handlers” who mistreat client dogs. At one of the shows, we even had to make a remark that if the handler did not stop torturing the dog, we would turn to the organizers. It happens that a dog is knocked down by its hind legs or pulled by a ring because of its poor standing, and it’s unbearable to look at it. And the owner thinks that "this is a professional who knows what he is doing."
In fact, the handler’s job is hard work. And there are magnificent handlers, absolutely brilliant.
The owner must pay attention to the reputation, achievements. But, in general, I would recommend choosing a handler very carefully so that it does not ruin the dog. It is advisable to get the recommendations of the breeders and look at the work of the handler at the exhibition. It is necessary to pay attention to how the dog looks at him, whether she is afraid of him. When a dog has contact with a handler, it looks in its mouth, on its pocket, wags its tail and is burning with a desire to work - this is immediately evident.
To be sure that the dog will perform well at exhibitions, is it better to take a bred puppy?
Of course, because some flaws appear only with age. The forecast can be made after the teeth change.
But in this case, the risk is quite large. Here is a very thin line. It’s one thing when you take a puppy and grow it for yourself, even at the risk of something. And another thing is a bred dog, which will be harder to make yours, but she will be fine with the exterior. This is a difficult question.
But as for the puppy, I would never give guarantees that it will be a show. Although the prospect is already visible quite early.
Photo from the personal archive of Natalia Didenok«