Why Show Dogs?
At a Kennel Club dog show, the dogs are judged against their Breed Standard, which is a description of how the breed should look and behave in order to perform the function for which it was bred. By attending shows, people who wish to breed from their dogs can see what is available. It also gives then a chance to see several generations of a family of dogs over the years and helps them decide whether using a particular stud dog is likely to produce sound, healthy dogs of the correct type.
But I’ve heard breeding for looks causes all kinds of problems?
We are very lucky in Irish Terriers because we have a core of knowledgeable and experienced people who strive to breed dogs that are physically and mentally healthy. Irish Terriers were bred as a general-purpose sporting breed, which means the breed standard describes a dog that is fit, fast, agile, powerful and intelligent, yet also sensitive and thriving on human companionship. These qualities mean that an Irish Terrier is not and should not be the ideal pet for a couch potato or a someone who has not got the time or inclination to train the dog properly.
You are far more likely to end up with a poorly, badly-constructed or nervous dog if you buy from someone who has not put so much careful consideration into their breeding programme. We are still a relatively small breed and there is tremendous peer pressure to keep our dogs healthy and sound. Likewise, people who attend breed shows and get involved with club activities will be better placed to advise as to whether an Irish Terrier is the right choice of pet for you in the first place.
Isn’t it all awfully serious?
In the ring, handlers are trying to get the best out of their dogs and judges and stewards are committed to doing the best they can too. However, if you come along to a show, you will find we are actually a very friendly bunch and only too happy to answer any questions about Irish Terriers. A few people come along without their own dogs, just so they could see other Irish Terriers. We wish they would bring their dogs along and have a go!
The dogs you see that are perfectly groomed and stand beautifully are the result of years of experience plus hours of preparation, but everybody has to start somewhere and there is always a friendly person or two on hand to help new exhibitors with a bit of last-minute preparation.
If you are new, just tell the steward and he or she will be sure to explain everything to you.
But what good will it do if I come along?
By coming along with your dog, you are doing your bit to help the future of the breed because it is an extra dog for the judge to practice his or her judging skills on. You never know, your dog might have a wonderful coat, or expression, or movement. Even if it turns out your dog has something not, technically ‘perfect’ he or she could be most welcome at a judging seminar. One lovely dog with a bumpy skull had a whale of a time at a judging seminar because as far as he was concerned, there was a queue of people all wanting to pat him on the head – he thought it was marvelous!
Even if we can’t tempt you into the ring, did you know you can still bring your dog along if you fill in the entry form as “Not for Competition”? We love meeting new dogs and you will receive as enthusiastic a welcome as a ‘proper’ exhibitor (possible more so as we can give your dog a serious amount of cuddling without messing up its beard!)
What is an Open Show and what is a Championship Show?
In an Open Show, the dogs compete to win their classes and ultimately the show.The best dog and best bitch at a Championship Show are awarded Challenge Certificates (CCs) and a dog that wins 3 CCs is given the title of Champion.
. How do I enter?
If you are a member of a breed club, you will be sent schedules and entry forms. If not, you can find details on the Kennel Club Website and also on Breed Club Websites.
. What is a Companion Dog Show?
These shows used to be called Exemption Shows, which means they are basically fun shows, often held to raise money for charities, like breed rescues or other animal welfare causes. Wins at these shows are not counted towards any other awards and the classes will often be divided into Sporting and Non-Sporting dogs (Irish are sporting!) so you will see lots of different breeds in the ring together. There are always several fun classes too, like waggiest tail, best rescue and best trick.
These shows are usually great fun and if you are lucky, you could win some really good prizes, like dog food, leads, toys and blankets.