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No matter if you’re a dog show newbie or veteran, you can easily become enthralled by a newly recognized breed. You might see it in the ring, and everything about it—its appearance, gait, and coat—fascinates you.

You have grooming to do at your set-up but you take the time to find out when and where this breed will be judged. Three are entered, and luckily there is no scheduling conflict for you. After showing your own dogs, you head to the ring where the new breed will be shown. Two exhibitors have never entered a dog show before, but the third is a longtime breeder whom you’ve known casually for years.

At home that evening, you start researching the breed, and the more you read, the more engrossed you become. Soon you are emailing the handful of enthusiasts in this country whose names you find on the website of the breed’s fledgling parent club. After reaching out to a few foreign kennels as well, you even start daydreaming about the fun you might have with this new addition.

Old hands and novices alike can fall under the spell of an uncommon breed. It might currently be part of the Miscellaneous Class and/or the Foundation Stock Service (FSS); it could also be one that’s newly recognized by the AKC. Either way, with the right planning and research, the result of this fascination can be a win-win for all.

We Can All Use a Friendly Welcome

If you are a newcomer showing a competitive breed, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when entering the ring for the first time. Perhaps your breed requires meticulous grooming or you’re showing alongside professional handlers. These high-pressure situations can be intimidating.

Rookies might benefit from spending more time around Miscellaneous, FSS, or low-entry breed rings. There, things are noticeably more casual. Most of those dogs are shown by their owners, many of whom may be new to the ring. Entries are smaller, the judge and steward might seem more relaxed, and the anxiety many exhibitors feel can quickly melt away.

Russian Toy at Meet the Breeds
David Woo ©American Kennel Club
Russian Toy at 2020 Meet the Breeds

Low-entry breeds need new blood to keep them viable. For exhibitors who relish their time in the ring and dream of an opportunity to compete in the group, it’s more likely that will happen with a Mudi (Herding Group) or a Russian Toy (Toy Group) than a German Shepherd Dog or a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in those same groups.

It’s also easier to break the ice and become friends in a breed where the same four or five people will be gathering every weekend and rooting for one another. You can get better acquainted with the social aspect of dog shows, which is the glue that holds many of us together and keeps us in the sport.

Preventing Burnout

Enter. Travel. Groom. Show. Repeat. If that sums up the dog show ritual for you, week after week, decade after decade, you may be burning out.

We all need challenges to keep us motivated. Pioneering an uncommon breed is a great way to put your vast breeding and showing knowledge to good use. Longtime fanciers have so much to contribute, from guiding newly formed parent clubs to mentoring newcomers as they establish their breeding programs.

Sharing Your Knowledge

Many breeder-exhibitors have devoted their lifetimes to showing dogs; they want to see all breeds thrive. After improving your own breed and teaching your protégés well, you can deploy your expertise in new ways. Your advice can put new generations of dog people on the right path to becoming good breeders.

While today’s breeders benefit from scientific breakthroughs and the power of the Internet at our fingertips, there is no substitute for the knowledge and advice of our master breeders. Judges’ Education benefits from longtime breeders’ ability to explain the nuances of breed type. Experienced breeders can advise a parent club and guide them to follow the precise protocol laid out by the AKC to move a breed from the FSS to the Miscellaneous Class to eventual full breed and group status.

An uncommon breed can inspire newcomers and invigorate longtime breeders. Their collective efforts will bring them great satisfaction while benefiting the breed and, by extension, the sport.

Related article: Allan Unleashed: The Value of Joining a Regional Breed Club
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