A show dog is typically one that is bred, trained and groomed for presentation at a confirmation show. This is a show where purebred dogs are evaluated to determine their degree of adherence to the breed standard. A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a specific breed to ensure they are sound and fit for the purpose for which they were bred. In the case of a Greyhound that is, functional for their original purpose of hunting game. A dog that conforms to most of the items as listed in the breed standard is said to have “good conformation” and the owner would hope to be succesful in the show ring.
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) is the administration body for pure breed canine affairs in this country. The ANKC is responsible for managing the breed standards. Click here to view the ANKC Greyhound breed standard. Each state has its own controlling body and in NSW this is The Royal NSW Canine Council (trading as Dogs NSW). Anyone wishing to show their dog must become a member in their state of residence and register their dog.
There are only a few breeders of show Greyhounds in Australia (less than 20) but there are dog breed shows they can enter most weekends. Most of their dogs originate from English, European or American bloodlines. A few Australian dogs are dual registered for both racing and showing. Many show bred Greyhounds worldwide also hold coursing titles.
In the USA show Greyhounds (registered with the American Kennel Club – AKC) look very different from racing Greyhounds (registered with the National Greyhound Association – NGA). The show dogs tend to be taller, have deeper chests, longer legs and necks, more arched back and are a little heavier. This photo shows AKC Champion “Shazams The Journey Begins” from Windrock Hounds. Note the very angular body shape.
How does a Greyhound become a show dog?
It will be evident from an early age if dogs bred specifically for showing have potential in the show ring. As they go through puppyhood their temperament and confirmation will become apparent and the owner can determine if they should go into the ring or be re-homed as pets.
This puppy Brantarby Winter Warrior showed early potential for Anne Pirie and went on to win at the Melbourne and Sydney Royal dog shows. Click here to visit Brantarby Greyhounds website to see photos of Warriors progress through his showing career.
A less common way for a Greyhound to become a show dog is if it is race bred. In addition to breeding and showing Greyhounds (and Italian Greyhounds) Claire Needham of Shantiah Kennels in NSW also owns racing Greyhounds. She is the proud owner of the only race bred Australian Grand Champion show Greyhound in the country, Wiora Skadi. As a pup Skadi was dual registered for both showing and racing. Claire first saw her in a show at the age of 4 months and purchased her at the age of 12 months. She was broken in for racing but spent a couple of years on the show circuit and didn’t actually race until she was 4 which is quite late. She wasn’t able to keep up with the younger dogs so was retired from racing and has now reached the peak of her showing career.
Claire Needham and Granch Champion Wiora Skadi
Claire has several successful show dogs in the Shantiah Kennels and also continues her interest in racing. Like Skadi, some of her dogs are dual registered and can be seen in the show ring or on the race track.
Ch Whirlaway All Time Classic (Miss Pickle) won Best of Breed at the Royal Melbourne Dog Show 2012
Can a retired racing dog become a show dog?
If a retired race dog has good confirmation, there is no reason that it cannot become a show dog should the owner choose to participate in the activity. In the past times in Australia, many racing greyhounds were also entered into dog shows for a bit of family fun. Nowadays the owner will be required to become of member of Dogs NSW and register their dog which does require quite a bit of paperwork pertaining to the pedigree of the dog. The majority of show dogs are entire i.e. not de-sexed, but many dog shows now have neuter classes and breed clubs are required to hold at least one a year. The best way to learn about showing is to contact dogs NSW and become involved with breed clubs.
There are different types of dog shows. Some are all breeds, some speciality shows which are breed specific and others are group shows, e.g. open to all breeds of hounds. Within the shows there are different types of competitions. Dogs and bitches are judged separately with different age classes. The winners of these classes can go on to be judged in classes such as Best of Breed, Best in Group and Best in Show. Winners of confirmation shows may be eligible then to enter championship shows where challenge points are awarded. One hundred challenge points are required before a dog can be awarded the title of Australian Champion which is a title for life and the initial Ch become part of the dog’s registered name and so on up to the titles of Grand Champion and Supreme Champion.
What is involved in showing a dog?
Once you have all the appropriate registrations you need to enter your dog in relevant shows and appropriate classes. But of course your dog needs to look good and behave well before it steps foot in the show ring. Your Greyhound needs to be in good physical condition for showing, with a healthy coat and good teeth. It goes without saying that they must be clean and well presented in the show ring and luckily greyhounds are a breed that requires minimal grooming.
Good basic obedience and a clam manner are essential in the show ring and you will need to train your Greyhound appropriately. In addition the owner will need to learn what is required to show a dog. It is a good idea to join a club where you and your dog can both learn “ring craft”.
There are some basic elements your dog will need to learn.
1. Teach the dog to stand squarely and still. This is referred to as a “stack”. It allows a judge to examine the dog’s appearance.
2. Work on the dog’s expression. It must look alert and interested, i.e. not sleepy or anxious.
3. Practice gaiting. You will be required to trot the dog to enable a judge to see its structure and how it moves.
4. Practice having strangers examine your dog’s teeth, ears, feet and tail. A judge will do this in the ring and your dog must be on its best behaviour.
Anne Pirie of Brantarby Kennels with Brantarby Winter Warrior
To see what is involved in a breed show ring click here to see Warrior going through his paces at the Sydney Royal Dog Show 2012.
Showing your greyhound can be a fun and rewarding activity for your family and there are always experienced people who are willing to share their knowledge. The ANKC and Dogs NSW are good places to start.
Australian National Kennel Council www.ankc.org.au
Dogs NSW www.dogsnsw.org.au
NSW Sighthound Association (02) 9604 6630
Shantiah Kennels www.shantiah.com
Brantarby Kennels www.aussiegreys.com