Breed meetups are social gatherings of owners and their dogs that are the same breed. These events can provide opportunities to meet puppy playmates and provide a fantastic training opportunity for your companion. At meetups, dog owners can also bond, connect, and share resources about groomers, vets, and other professionals who specialize in your breed.
Meetups can also be a great way to educate the public about how wonderful and unique your breed is. Here are how the hosts of two large and long-running meetups got started and tips for how to get started with organizing a breed meetup yourself.
Types of Events
Many groups choose to focus on meeting up with pets in dog parks, while others organize training days, leashed hikes, and holiday gatherings. Marc and Cynthia Dalangin, who co-founded the New Jersey Welsh Corgi Club with their friend Eric Abello, have been holding meetups for Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Cardigan Welsh Corgis since September 2013 and are eagerly approaching their ten-year anniversary. They affectionally call themselves the “FRAP Pack”—”FRAP” standing for “Frenetic Random Acts of Play.”
“We hold monthly meetups at various local New Jersey dog parks. We also have our yearly picnic in August where we fundraise money for corgi rescue organizations such as Bandit’s Bandaid through raffle draws and raffle prizes of various dog- and corgi-related items. We also do fun contests like cutest butt and biggest ears,” the Dalangins explain. The group also enjoys seasonal events like holiday parties, beach meetups, and wearing Halloween costumes to visit the pumpkin patch.
Laura Burkart has run NYC Griffs, a social group for Brussels Griffons and their owners in New York City, since June 2020. NYC Griffs organizes regular park meetups and goes all out with parties. “We throw some more casual park meet-ups throughout the year but we also love a theme! Everything from Halloween, winter holidays, and most recently the Kentucky Derby in 2022. Budgets for the party range from $500 all the way up into the thousands, depending on the event. We sell our club merchandise to also help raise funds for events as well as utilize GoFundMe. We donate several times a year to the National Brussels Griffon Rescue,” says Burkart.
Their events are legendary and draw big crowds of dogs and people. “Our last four meetups have had over 50 pups from all over the Tri-State Area,” she adds. “We have some regulars traveling up to three hours for the meetups. The Derby event had pups flying in from all over the US, the furthest being Scully the Griff from Seattle.”
Most breed meetups start small, and as they become more popular, can grow substantially. The Dalangins say, “Our monthly meetups average about 30 to 40 Corgis. Special events like our summer picnics usually draw a bigger crowd. Our first summer picnic in 2014 had about 60 Corgis. Year after year, the picnics have grown, with our last one in 2021 having over 100 Corgis in attendance.”
They started the meetup because of their beloved Corgi, Wally, who started their obsession with the breed. “He will be turning 14 on August 27, 2022, the day of our eighth annual Corgi picnic,” they say. “We are excited to celebrate him, our members, and all the special people and experiences we’ve gained over the years.”
Setting Ground Rules
Before organizing a breed meetup, put in place plans for how to handle any issues that arise between dogs. “At each meetup or event, we ask that everyone check in with us to get a headcount of owners and Corgis,” the Dalangins explain. “Of course, with a meetup that involves dogs, we want to make sure we keep safety in mind for both our Corgis and their owners. So, to keep things running smoothly at each meetup or event, we have a few safety rules and guidelines.”
Their rules include enforcing any leash rules for their location and asking owners to pick up after their Corgis. They also “keep an eye out for any unusual rowdiness to curb dogfights. If there happens to be any unruliness or aggression from the Corgis, we ask that people remove them to keep everyone safe.” Burkart’s “main rule is to be nice to the volunteers and staff at our events. It’s a labor of love truly, and we are often pumping our own funds into the event to make it special. Kindness goes a long way, and our members are incredible at showing their gratitude; it makes it easy to keep going.”
Advice For Getting Started
Once you’ve decided to start a breed meetup, you need to get the word out, usually via social media. As your group grows, it’s also helpful to have a website where people can learn more about who you are and how to get involved, as well as an email address as a point of contact. Documenting the events and the fun is a must. “The number one ‘splurge’ I try and have at each event is a photographer,” advises Burkart. “I am usually having too much fun to snap a photo and I love having the memories captured of all these amazing animals and their humans having a great time.”
Burkart says, “Start small, find a crew you can count on, and build from there.” The Dalangins advise that “the key things to keep in mind are motivation, patience, kindness, flexibility, and awareness.” While passion goes a long way, they advocate for consistency, sticking to regularly scheduled meetup times and keeping members appraised of event details. But new organizers should remember that things don’t always go as planned, so be flexible.
Organizing a breed meetup is a tremendous amount of work and is an unpaid labor of love. But your passion for your breed will help guide your efforts. “The best thing about a breed meetup community is that you already know you have one huge thing in common: love for the same type of furry friends,” says Burkart. “It’s a great way to make friends and get some quality time with amazing pups.”