Points of presentation
Jeffrey G. Pepper
Everyone likes to be a winner – or to own one. Those who show dogs are no different. Exhibitors, whether owner-handlers or professionals, are always looking for ways to increase their chances for a win. Over the years, many aspects of handling have changed as exhibitors seek the winning edge. One need only look at photographs of shows from 40 or 50 years ago to see how presentation has changed over time.
For example, grooming techniques have evolved. Look at a photo of Anne Rogers Clark winning with her Poodle at Westminster to see the vast differences in grooming techniques that have occurred since then. Trimming styles have certainly changed over the years. Some of this has evolved as a result of new grooming products being made available over the years, as well as changes in trimming techniques. The result is a much more stylized presentation of many breeds over the years.
Why do exhibitors do this? Quite simply because they think it will help their dog to win. However, this has also created changes that affect the ability of some breeds to perform their intended function. For example, some breeds are considered water dogs. Dogs of these breeds require a waterproof coat – usually a double coat with an outer coat that is somewhat oily to repel moisture and a softer undercoat to insulate the dog’s body and protect it from the cold water. Many would consider this type of coat an important part of the breed’s characteristics.
However, an oily coat might be a bit smelly and will not fluff up to look “pretty” in the ring, so exhibitors often bathe out the natural oils and then add products to fluff up the coat to make it look fuller. Other exhibitors have learned to refine their grooming techniques in a manner that, they hope, helps create the appearance of correct structure – even if that structure does not exist. The artful use of grooming products will allow the skillful groomer the ability to sculpt the coat to create the appearance of correct front angulation or a longer neck, for example.
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