AKC Gazette
AKC Gazette

Kendall Herr is our guest columnist. Kendall has bred and exhibited Labradors for 40 years. She is an AKC breed judge and is a member of both the Dallas.Fort Worth Labrador Retriever Club and the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc.

Showing Your Labrador
by Kendall Herr

Getting into showing must be overwhelming for the novice these days. The number of entries has grown by leaps and bounds, and there are so many types in the ring, so many people in the breed, and so many different opinions.

Dog shows exist to exhibit our breeding stock so breeders and potential owners can see our stud dogs and brood bitches, see the puppies they produce, and make decisions on which way to go in their breeding programs. Showing should not be a cutthroat competition. You pay an entry fee to get an opinion, but it is only one person.s opinion. Win or lose, you have been evaluated against the competition on that day by that particular judge. Judges, like dogs, come in different types: Find the one who understands your breed and support him.

Your dog has faults, like every other dog at the show. You should understand your dog.s faults and virtues. For example, condition is very important. A Labrador looks his best for only a few months a year. Learn when your dog is at his best, and go with him then. Some dogs seem to look better at indoor shows and some better outside. Yellows usually look better than blacks indoors. A dog with bad feet or poor movement will look better outdoors.

Just as color changes depending on what color is beside it, dogs look different depending on their neighbors in a class. This helps to explain why you can win under a judge one time and not place the next time you show under him. Your dog will look different against different competition; what you are up against makes all the difference.

Handling really shouldn't matter. A good judge should be able to find a good dog despite poor handling. But good handling can make it easier to find a good dog and can help a poor one look better.

There are many variables at dog shows that will cause you to lose a lot more than you will win. You will be a winner if you use dog shows constructively and for the purpose for which they were intended. Go to shows even when you don.t have a dog to show. Watch the classes and try to judge them yourself. Ask yourself why you like one dog over another. Have reasons for every decision, and pick out the type you like and want to strive for. Are the dogs you picked out related in any way? Study those pedigrees. After the judging, talk to other people and listen to the "old-timers." Respect different opinions—they make the dog game interesting

If you go at dog showing with the right outlook, you will make some wonderful friends, develop a hobby that may turn into a lifestyle, and you will be a real winner.—K.H.

The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., is the single organization officially recognized by the American Kennel Club as the national parent club of the Labrador Retriever. The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., was incorporated in October 1931, in the state of New York, and is not affiliated with any other association titled or claiming to be the National Labrador Retriever Club.