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Photo by Robert J Skibinski

At just 16 years old, Izzy Burg of Onalaska, Wisconsin is already an established Junior Handler and owner who has already begun her own breeding program. Currently active in Conformation, Burg also participates in Barn Hunt with her Terriers.

Finding Her Way in Junior Showmanship

Burg first got interested in dog sports at age eight, while attending a Barn Hunt trial with her mom and two of her family’s dogs. There, she fell in love with terriers and wanted to learn more. “I started showing at the age of nine,” Burg says. “Though my parents were never in the sport, I was lucky to meet my fellow club members at a Barn Hunt trial.”

Izzy Burg

She now breeds Smooth Fox Terriers, and several of her bred-by dogs have won Terrier group placements. Burg also shows a variety of other breeds, including English Setters, and Coated Chinese Cresteds. Some of Burg’s own dogs include Warwick & Misty Hollow’s She’s The Queen (“Prym”), Misty Hollow’s A Wrinkle In Time (“Ripp”), Warwick’s Away From The Things Of Man (“Briar”), CH Tada’s Chocolate Carmel Truffle (“Veruca”). Warwick’s Majora’s Mask (“Tingle”), Stardom & Crown Heart Of A Dream (“Amvri”), and CH Renegades Beauty Behind The Veil (“Lush”). She also co-owns several other dogs, including Saint Bernards and Mini Bull Terriers.

Learning From Other Juniors

Burg has done some Agility with her Toy Fox Terrier “Shiloh” and earned a Jumpers title, but Conformation remains her favorite sport. She has also tried to get Canine Good Citizen (CGC) titles on her dogs and works to encourage Barn Hunt with her terriers, since she says they typically love it. Burg has become more observant from watching how other Juniors present their dogs and learning the subtle things that judges are looking for. “Juniors is something that has shown me how to lose and how to win, and still come out with the best dogs. Without the Junior ring, I wouldn’t have the knowledge or mindset that I do,” she explains.

The proudest moment in her show career so far was “winning my very first group 1 [first-place win] with my friend’s stunning Cairn Terrier ‘Halo,'” she recalls. Her second proudest moment was winning two bred-by terrier groups with Prym, who’s her first bred-by dog. “Prym’s a beast to show. It’s like wrangling a fox…but it’s worth it when we pull off a good performance,” Burg says.

Understanding Dog Behavior

Win or lose, the most important part of showing dogs for Burg, is, of course, the dogs. “My favorite part is the special connection I try to build with every dog I handled so that I can share myself to make that certain breed of dog shine like they should,” she explains. Her dedication and commitment to the dogs make her especially sensitive to the unique temperament and behavioral needs of each dog whose leash she holds. She grew up around rescued dogs, some of whom were reactive, noting that she was “raised to always be aware of temperaments and body language.” She uses this experience to help her to approach each new dog she meets. “I try to get to know the dog before I take them in the ring, so they are comfortable with me, and I am comfortable with them.”

Photo by Rob Duberstein

To date, her biggest challenge has been helping her English Setter Amvri enjoy showing. “After many months of blood, sweat, tears, training classes, strangers, and the support of her breeders, I’ve finally gotten her to enjoy the show ring again.” Key to their success is going at her dog’s pace. “Even if she has off days still, we don’t push it. She and I are still progressing as a team. Even if it’s slow, it’s one small accomplishment at a time,” she explains.

Becoming a Breeder Herself

After gaining experience showing, Burg turned her sights to starting her own breeding program. She recalls that she fell in love with ‘Wyatt’ the Smooth Fox Terrier, who was owned by her groomer friend Lisa Leady, who provided connections for her first Smooth Fox Terrier. “Later, I had been offered a foundation bitch named Veruca,” she adds.

Upon getting Veruca, Izzy finished the dog’s Championship. To date, she has now bred three healthy litters. One of the puppies she bred recently won Reserve Winners Bitch at the breed’s national specialty. Burg credits her mom with being her biggest supporter, helping her get to the shows she needs to attend. “She has been there to whelp all three of Veruca’s litters, as I was away at a show for the first two.”

Burg was so proud when she finally had the opportunity to be there in person to whelp that third litter. “It was so so scary, but I did good about not crying until the second puppy [Tingle] was born. Truly, I was so proud of my brood bitch, and I still am.”

Surrounded By Supportive People

No matter your age, It’s important to always uphold good sportsmanship. “Even if you don’t win, lose with a smile on your face, because even if you put on the best performance with a dog you love and cherish, you won’t always win or be placed. There is always another show,” she encourages.


Izzy Burg

For kids and teens interested in showing dogs, Burg recommends surrounding yourself with good people. She notes that, even if your peers might talk behind one another’s backs, spend time with Juniors who demonstrate good showmanship. Burg suggests it’s helpful for adult competitors, handlers, and breeders to “take new Juniors under their wings and teach them the correct ways of sportsmanship and to teach them about their breed.” Burg encourages others to be friendly to any Junior Handler and direct them towards reliable breeders and mentors.

Burg’s Bright Future

Burg is looking forward to continuing to develop her skills in the show ring. She hopes to get involved in Field Trials with her English Setters in the near future. Her current priorities involve showing her bred-by dogs, and she notes, “I will be traveling lots with over the summer to get their championship and later I’ll possibly special one of them for a year, depending on how they mature.” Her other goal is to get a 7th Best Junior Handler win. This would qualify her to compete as a Junior Handler for the first time at the 2024 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
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