Beginner’s guide to showing your Dachshund

An introductory guide written by Sue Seath (Sunsong)

Showing your dachshund can be a great way to have a fun day out with your dog, making new friends and getting the opportunity to look at lots of different dogs of your chosen breed.

If you are thinking about starting to show it is a good idea to attend a local Dachshund breed club show just to watch and see how things are done.  You can usually take your dog with you and enter him as a “spectator dog” on the day.  This is a good way of testing if your dog can cope with the busy atmosphere of a show.  Breed Club shows are very welcoming to newcomers and committee members are on hand to introduce you to people showing your breed who will also be keen to welcome you to the hobby of showing.

Having decided that showing is for you and your dog, the next step is to attend a local ringcraft class (details on the Kennel Club website using the ‘Find a Dog Club’ tool).  These are informal mock show sessions with helpful trainers who will teach you how to handle your dog in the ring and a little about ring procedures.  They are also great for accustoming young dogs to the show environment and for socialising.  You can often pick up schedules for forthcoming local shows you might want to enter.

Different types of dog show:

You could start at a Companion dog show.  These are fun dog shows run to raise funds for charity.  You enter on the day and there are usually lots of prizes in the form of dog food/toys/treats etc. to be won.  This is another good way of getting your dog used to showing without the pressure of the bigger, more competitive events.

The next stage on your showing journey is to enter an Open show.  These have to be entered in advance of the date of the show and are either all breed shows or single breed club shows.  Details of forthcoming shows can be found on the Kennel Club website “Activities” section.

The last stage, if your dog has coped well with showing at Open shows is to enter a Championship show.  These are where dogs can qualify to enter Crufts and if you have a truly outstanding dog, you may be lucky enough to win a Challenge Certificate.  This is the ultimate award and 3 of them have to be won to make a Champion.  Again, there are all-breed Championship shows and Dachshund-only ones.  The all-breed shows are more expensive to enter (typically around £26 per dog) and the dachshund-only shows are cheaper (typically around £12 per dog).

Practice at home:

Now onto some practicalities.  Before entering one of the Open or Championship shows you will need to have taught your dog how to stand on the table for the judge to handle.  Practice this at home.  The easiest way is to place the dog with the front legs well under his body, then hold him under his chin to balance him while you extend his hind legs behind his body.  Get friends and family to simulate a judge running his hands over your dog and looking at his teeth.  Reward him for good behaviour with a tasty treat and lots of verbal praise.

You also need to train your dog to stand like this on the floor on both indoor and outdoor surfaces as winter shows are usually indoors at sports centres and village halls, while summer shows are outside on grass.

Finally, your dog needs to be trained to trot at a steady pace with his head up for the judge to assess his movement.  Practice standing and moving your dog at home and then at ringcraft class you can try this with the distractions of other dogs and people.

Entering a dog show:

To enter an Open or Championship show you need either to obtain a schedule from the show secretary and fill out and post the entry form or enter the show on-line.  The two main show entry websites are www.highampress.co.uk and www.fossedata.co.uk where you can find schedules and enter your dog for a show.  All the big all-breed championship shows are on these two websites and some of the breed club and all breed open shows.  You will need to provide details of your dog’s Kennel Club registered name, date of birth, breeder, owner and the dog’s father and mother’s Kennel Club registered names.  You also need to provide your name, address and contact telephone number either on the form or on-line.  The big shows are usually slightly cheaper to enter before the postal closing date of the show.  After that, they can be entered on-line, but at an increased cost, so it is usually more cost-effective to make the entry earlier.

What equipment will you need to take with you on the day of the show?  Food and water for your dog (and maybe yourself).  Treats for rewarding your dog.  A show lead (obtainable from trade stands at shows or on the internet e.g. www.petcetera.co.uk).  If it is an unbenched show you will need to take a suitable size crate for your dog to sit in when not being shown or walked and if a benched show he will need a benching chain and blanket to sit on, or if your crate is small enough it will fit on his bench.  You also need to take any grooming brushes/combs you need to prepare your dog for the ring.  You will need a ring clip to attach your ring number to, and be sure to take plenty of warm clothes if the venue is outside or the show is held in the winter months.  Take a towel to dry your dog off with if rain is forecast and also plenty of “poo bags” as you would when going for a walk.

At the show:

Arrive in plenty of time so that you can give your dog a short walk to stretch his legs after the journey and relieve himself.  It also gives you a chance to get him used to the busy atmosphere a little while ahead of when he goes in the ring. Find the ring where your breed is being shown.  Ring numbers will be clearly displayed next to the rings and if at an all breeds championship show you will have received information about start times and ring and bench numbers with your exhibitor’s pass.

Keep an eye on how the judging is progressing and be ready to enter the ring when the steward calls your class into the ring.  All the dogs will line up on one side of the ring in a standing show pose for the judge to have an initial look at the class.  The dogs will then usually be asked to move round the ring together as a class before the judge looks at each one individually.

The individual assessment is when you stand your dog on the table for the judge to get his/her hands on to look at construction, teeth, body condition and coat.  Next, the judge will ask you to move your dog so he can see how its conformation relates to its movement.  You will probably be asked to move your dog across the ring and back to the judge in a straight line, then maybe in a triangle – away to the right hand corner of the ring, across the top of the ring to the left hand corner and back towards the judge.  Some judges ask for the dog to be moved in a circle round the ring back to the end of the line of waiting dogs or directly back to the judge.  Follow the judge’s instructions and watch what exhibitors have been asked to do in previous classes.

After all the dogs have been individually assessed, all the dogs then stand in show pose as you did at the start of the class for the judge to make their final decision.  He/she may ask for the dogs to be moved around the ring all together again before making his/her choice.

The judge will indicate which dog has come 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. by calling them out or pointing, so keep an eye on the judge at this stage, as well as making sure your dog looks his best.  The steward should tell you where to stand your dog in the centre of the ring for the judge to complete the judging book and the prize cards to be awarded.  Dogs are placed left to right in descending order in the centre of the ring.

The judge will then want to take notes or photos of the first and second placed dogs at a championship show or breed club open show or first place only at an all-breeds open show.  You should stand your dog again for the judge to see its profile while s/he makes notes.  The judge may ask for the winning dogs to move over to stand in front of the table to take notes at this stage.

What to do if you win your class:

If you have been lucky enough to win a 1st you will need to be ready to go back in the ring at the end of the judging (of all classes at an open show, and all classes of the same sex at a Championship show).  At this stage, all the first prize winners meet in the ring to decide which dog will be Best of Breed at an Open show,  or the Challenge Certificate winner for that sex at a Championship show.  All the first prize winners line up in class order as you did in your initial class.  The judge will then probably ask them all to move round the ring together and then move each dog individually before they all stand again as at the end of a class.  The judge then makes his/her awards.  The other awards are made after Best of Breed or the C.C.  This would be the Reserve C.C. at a championship show and at an Open show it could be Reserve Best of Breed or Best Opposite Sex (to the dog that has won B.O.B.).  Best puppy in that sex (Ch. show) or Best Puppy in Breed (open show) is then declared.  At Championship shows, the best dog and bitch puppies then meet each other after Best of Breed is declared, to decide the Best Puppy in Breed. The winners of the main awards are then usually asked to do a lap of honour by doing a circuit of the ring together.

If you have won Best of Breed, there is one further stage of the show you will need to be ready for.  If it is a dachshund breed club show you must stay until all the other varieties of dachshund have completed their breed classes.  Each Best of Breed then goes forward to compete for Best In Show.  The same procedure is followed as it is usually another different judge deciding Best In Show, so all the dogs will again be judged together and individually as before.  The same procedure is followed for deciding Best Puppy In Show which is judged after Best In Show, so you must also stay for the end of the show if you win Best Puppy in Breed.

At all-breed Championship and some all-breed Open shows, after winning Best of Breed you need to stay for the Hound Group to be judged.  This is where all Best of Breed winners from the different Hound breeds (e.g. Beagles, Whippets, Wolfhounds, Bassets etc.) meet to decide which dog is the best Hound.  The best in the Hound Group then goes on to compete against the other group winners (e.g. Gundog, Working, Toy etc.) to decide which dog is declared Best in Show.

The same happens with the Best Puppy winners of each breed, but not all Championship shows have puppy groups so you need to check the schedule.

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