As we continue to breed, show, and finish generations of our dogs over the years, it’s important that we never function on autopilot, participating in the sport mindlessly just because “it’s what we do every weekend.” The cancellation of shows over many months this year gave us a new appreciation of our passion. We learned never to take dog shows for granted.
Working toward breeding better and better dogs should be our forever goal. Beyond earning the “Breeder of Merit” designation, recognition of our efforts by those in our breed and breeder-exhibitors at large inspires us on our journey. One very tangible reward comes from supporting the Bred-by-Exhibitor class at all-breed and specialty shows.
At specialty shows, Bred-by has long been considered the most prestigious class of all. In 50 years of breeding and showing activity, anytime I have donated a trophy it has typically been for the Bred-by-Exhibitor class. Entering Bred-by makes a powerful statement to the judge, your fellow exhibitors, and the gallery without saying a word. The message telegraphed is: “I bred this dog, I consider it correct, I kept it and I am proud to enter the ring with it to represent my breeding program.”
The Importance of Bred-by-Exhibitor
Bred-by-Exhibitor Group competition, when offered at such prominent shows as the AKC National Championship presented by Royan Canin event in Orlando, highlights the importance of this class. The American Kennel Club further honors those who support the class by offering a Bred-by-Exhibitor medallion to anyone whose dog finishes its championship with all points won from this class. I know many people across all seven Variety Groups who are proud to state that every dog they have finished—that wasn’t purchased—completed its title from Bred-by. What an accomplishment.
Given the history of the Bred-by-Exhibitor class in our sport, it is disappointing to see it used as a filler at all-breed shows for dogs just past one year of age. Some are leggy adolescents that haven’t pulled themselves together yet; others may have been whisked off a pet owner’s couch for the weekend to help make points for a breeder’s more promising littermate. They certainly do not represent the best the breed should offer.
The judge, fellow exhibitors, and knowledgeable spectators must conclude either that these mediocre specimens are the best that breeder could produce, or the breeder is not astute enough to understand that her entries are lacking in condition and out of their depth, competing in the show ring. Neither observation is flattering. The breeder may have better-quality dogs at home but she will be judged on that day, in and out of the ring, by what she has chosen to enter. Is it worth the hit to your reputation to show an out-of-condition dog, just to make points for another?
Restoring the Former Luster
Depending upon what size the show and what part of the country, the Open class is generally understood to be reserved for mature, competitive dogs and bitches. You can expect to find many entries in the peak of condition, imports, and even finished champions from other countries. I’d like to see us think of the Bred-by-Exhibitor class at all-breed shows in the same way, and restore it to its former luster.
In a perfect world, there would be no filler dogs entered at dog shows; pets would be in pet homes and out-of-condition dogs would be maturing in a breeder’s kennel. In today’s less-than-perfect dog show world, let’s make wise decisions in what classes we enter, and save the prestigious Bred-by-Exhibitor class to present our very best.
Watch the 2021 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin on January 2 at 2 p.m. ET on ABC.