What can we learn from the Westminster Dog Show?

February 18, 2019

Last week the Highest Honours in Dog breeding were at stake as the celebrated Westminster Dog show ran for 2019.

For those of you that are avid fans I need not tell you how big this competition is. But for those of you that have never heard of it let me give you a summary. The Westminster dog show is where all the biggest breeders meet, every year, to showcase their dogs and compete for a multitude of honours. The dogs (up to 3000 of them) are held up to the breed standards (the “perfect” description of each breed) and depending on how well they meet those standards they may win best in breed, best in class (Such as the Terrier group, sporting group, hunting group etc), or even the highly coveted “Best in Show”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKAyGtMlwA8

For the breeders and Owners of these dogs the stakes are high as competition is expensive and the time, conditioning and training for each dog is extensive. But the rewards are high. It is not just bragging rights on the line, but breeding contracts and value of the dogs that can be made with a title win.

https://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/

But what about us? The average viewer that may have stumbled across the show on TV or online? What I would say is that this can be one of the best sources to research breeds. You will see the highest level of the breed you are interested in and learn about it’s characteristics, traits and what it was originally intended for. Before having a dog enter your family doing your homework to learn about the usual temperament, energy requirement and personality traits will go a VERY long way to ensuring that you are the best match for each other. Or if you are trying to understand your current companion better, looking into breed characteristics can be a great place to start.

For example, do you love the look of a husky or Border Collie? That’s fantastic, but did you know that these are both highly intelligent working dogs that need a lot (and I mean A LOT) of exercise to let them stay mentally balanced? Do you love how cute Pugs, French bulldogs and other brachycephalic (smushy nosed breeds) look? They are adorable. But did you know that their small airway can lead to difficulties in hot weather? If you are looking for a running companion this may not be the dog for you. Or what about a hypoallergenic Labradoodle? Or Aussiedoodle, Shepadoodle, Mini doodle, Goldendoodle or Bernadoodle? Did you know that not only are these not purebreds but that the vast majority are not actually hypoallergenic?

None of this to say that you need to go and purchase a dog from a breeder. There are many breed specific rescue groups, and sadly the larger rescue facilities are almost always full to capacity with dogs that are looking for homes. But regardless of where you go to look for your new family member having as much information as you can will help you the understand the needs of your dog and make your life together much more satisfying and peaceful. Indeed, if you already have a dog and are mystified by some of their behaviours or traits, often times looking into the breed (or breeds) that they carry can give you a jumping off point to help understand their way of thinking.

As always, if you have any questions about your dog, breed related or not, the vets at Healthy Pets are always just a phone call away.