Dog shows were invented to provide brag- ging rights and an opportunity to see other dogs and compare bloodlines. Barbara J. Andrews, Editor-In-Chief of The Dog Press wrote, “Breeding dogs is an expression of our talent and public appreciation is an affirmation of that ability. Will new age dog shows still be about our creativity and the compulsion to express it in a living master- piece? Like any artist, what we do is more than just a hobby. In our field, talent is now defined by who wins the most points for the year.” Most owners are just as happy

to go for walks in the neighbor- hood or sit quietly at home reading so long as they have a dog at their side. Many are fulfilled by doing rescue work, training service dogs, or competing in Agility and Obedience. “It is the artists among us who

drive the sport, spending years con- ceiving, nurturing, and putting the finishing touches on a master- piece,” said Andrews. However, this family sport has

changed over the years, from a hobby that was once open and affordable to everyone, into a “playpen and pastime for the idle rich,” said Andrews, citing several factors. Visitors to the Florida Gulf

Coast Classic Cluster in Brooksville will come upon rows and rows of RVs. Many of them are large, luxu- rious homes on wheels, housing humans and their canines from around the country traveling the Florida circuit of dog shows. RV parking fees can often exceed those of a stay at a five-star resort. Then there are the entry fees, which

Top photo: Basset Hound in the ring, 2018, Brooksville. Bottom photo: A Basset Hound, circa 1964, before the modern show ring molded the breed into something chunkier and wrinklier.

have gone through the roof, discouraging all but the well-to-do and the professional handler. And speaking of handler fees, Andrews adds, “Handler fees have become status symbols, signifying who can afford whom. I have many handler friends who, being objective, would agree that an owner-exhibitor can no longer win in some breeds and the average family can’t afford to hire a top handler.” Has the concept of showing a pure-

bred dog become unrealistic for most fam- ilies? “The inarguable truth is that today


“high profile breeds.” These are breeds that have been criticized for conformation that does not allow a dog to enjoy full health. If any dog fails the health check, it is effectively given a red card, being withdrawn from the remainder of the competition. In 2012, the pedigree dog show world

was stunned when six dogs, chosen as best of their breeds at Crufts dog show, failed the newly instituted veterinary health check. As a result, the prize-winning dogs (Bulldog, Pekingese, Clumber Spaniel, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff and Basset Hound) were banned from proceeding to Best in Group judging, ending six dog show

only the wealthy can really succeed in the AKC show ring and as the world becomes a smaller place, even winning a Group no longer has the same meaning as winning at the World Show, Westminster, or Eukanuba. It is indeed a new age for dog shows and for purebred dogs” added Andrews. In response to criticism after several

news reports exposed the questionable breeding practices of dogs, England’s Kennel Club (the UK’s equivalent of the AKC) instituted a compulsory health check for all dogs winning Best of Breed in fifteen

enthusiasts’ dreams of winning Best in Show at Crufts. The inspecting veterinary surgeon specifically assessed four areas of concern on the health front: eye disease, respiratory problems, skin disease and mobility issues. The independent veterinar- ian decided that the dogs’ appearances were inconsistent with full, normal health. Dog breeders reacted in fury, declaring that “animal rights terrorists are controlling the judging...” The hope, of course, is that breeders

will want to produce show dogs that are healthy enough to pass the veterinary checks. The fear, used by the Kennel Club in the past, is that the breed clubs will do their own thing. No breed better illustrates this

tragic descent than the English Bulldog, whose short, flattened face makes breathing and cooling down difficult. Its massive head, large even in puppies, makes natural breeding and birth all but impossible. Bulldogs often require cesarean sections. A Boston veterinary surgeon, Nick Trout, said he and colleagues have performed surgery on as many as 30 Bulldogs a year to correct airway problems. Because of the dog’s diffi- culty in panting to cool off, hot days can be fatal to a Bulldog. Troubling conditions also plague

other breeds. The Pug and Pekingese, toy breeds with big eyes and protrud- ing eyeballs, suffer from eye problems, in addition to sharing the Bulldog’s breathing troubles. Breeds with deep wrinkles, such as the Bloodhound and Shar-pei, suffer from skin infections. The Dogue de Bordeaux is similarly at

higher risk for skin problems and lameness. Many of the problems crept up on cer-

tain breeds slowly and quietly over decades. Much of it was not noticed by the general public but chronicled by concerned veteri- narians and geneticists. There have been warnings that breeding for appearance and structure has, as one researcher observed, resulted in the “evolution of purebreds that are caricatures of the original breeds.” A separate problem, the frequent

mating of close relatives to develop a “line” of dogs, has allowed many inherited med- ical conditions to take hold in certain breeds. The problem is not isolated to the United States.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104