Seven Secrets of Show Dog Success

Part 5: Understand the Game


The show ring is no different than any other field of competition. Success breeds jealousy, envy and downright hostility. Because we don’t always win we have always tried to be gracious winners and losers. Watching a competitor stomp out of the ring is never a pleasant sight.

We’ve talked a lot about developing goals and a strategy to achieve those goals. As with anything else in life staying focused makes a huge difference. The distractions of those around you who resent your dog’s success can’t always be ignored, but they can be used to remind you you’re going in the right direction.

Normally, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is a definition of insanity. In dog competition, insane as it is, developing a consistent breeding and show program will produce success. Like the early Fords, Aviator dogs come in many colors as long as they’re mostly black. It’s part of the brand.

Are you close-mouthed?
The flip side of having a thick skin is keeping your mouth shut. To say that dog shows breed gossip, innuendo and petty comments as well as show dogs is an understatement. We have learned to be even better listeners the more successful we have become. We’ve watched fellow breeders get sucked into some minor controversy only to find themselves quoted the next day by a co-conspirator.

Outside the ring, we’ve learned to avoid engagement in gossip about anyone. Besides, it’s amazing how much you learn just listening to someone run out of words and then divulge too much information. When people visit our kennel, we avoid comments about a fellow breeder even though we may know they may not be operating appropriately. We can only control how we operate as a responsible kennel.

It’s the AKC and breed club’s responsibility to put unethical breeders out of business, even though they will continue to breed no matter what. Remember the AKC only registers about 1 percent of all of the dogs in this country. For the other 99 percent, anything goes!

Welcome to the Big Top!
As a new or veteran dog enthusiast, understanding that the world of dogs really is like a circus helps to put this world in perspective. Somebody wins, somebody loses, great champions are soon forgotten as new hot dogs knock them off their perch and we’re all off to the next show. The fact that some owners and kennels have consistent success is the thread that runs through the big top.

Those breeder/owners have taken the time and resources to figure out the nuances of what appears to be chaos but is actually a highly orchestrated dance. Like any dance, it takes time to learn the steps and even more time to perform at the highest level. Enjoy the ride!


  • With some people you just don’t have a chance…
  • If you talk about dogs, you’re a know-it-all; if you don’t, you’re a snob…
  • If you don’t stop to chat at a show, success has gone to your head; if you do, you’re a showoff…
  • If your dogs are at all the shows, you’re not letting others have a chance; if your dogs aren’t at all the shows, you’re afraid of the competition…
  • If your dog wins, you know the judges; if they don’t win, you know nothing about breeding…
  • If you win and thank the judge, you’re playing politics; if you win and don’t thank the judge, you’re rude…
  • If you lose and congratulate the winner, you’re a hypocrite; if you lose and don’t thank the winner you’re a poor sport…
  • If you’ve been breeding for less than 20 years, you’re a novice; if you’ve been breeding for more than 20 years, you should step down and let the newcomers have a chance…
  • If you use your own stud, you’re kennel blind; if you go outside for stud services, you don’t think much of your own breeding…
  • If you sell most of your puppies, they aren’t good enough to keep; if you keep them, you can’t find buyers…
    — Anonymous

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Florence   Los Angeles, California

9/6/2014 7:48:38 AM

Please do NOT refer to your dogs as "furpeople, furchildren," etc. & please don't refer to yourselves as "pet parents, guardians," etc. These are Animal Rights terms that take animals out of the realm of property & undermine our rights to make appropriate decisions on behalf of our animals. By using such terns, we are hurting ourselves, & no, it is NOT cute or innocent. Please reconsider.

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