Little Bits of History

Conformation Dog Show

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 28, 2011

What the judges are looking at.

June 28, 1859:  The first conformation dog show is held. This type of dog show is also referred to as breed shows and are shows where only specific breeds are evaluated. It is a method of seeing which of the purebred specimens conform best to the established breed type as laid down in the accepted breed standards. Judges are certified to evaluate only specific breeds, usually all in the same Group. There are a very few “All Breed” judges, as well. This first show only included pointers and setters and was held at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England.

While this type of dog show originated in England, there are now shows held around the globe. The UK began this tradition on this date. The US, Canada, Australia, and Colombia also participate in these types of shows. The Kennel Club sponsors many of these shows, often holding several competitions each year. There are competitions for adults dogs as well as puppies. Puppies are dogs under 6 months old while older dogs can be subcategorized into junior or limit [intermediate] classifications. There is also distinction between male and female dogs.

There are some prestigious shows with one of the most famous probably being the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. This was established in 1877 and is held yearly at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Crufts is held in the United Kingdom and began in 1891. It is the world’s largest and most prestigious show, according to the Guinness Book of Records. The four-day event is held at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham. The World Dog Show is sponsored by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale and the location moves from year to year. In 2008 it was held in Sweden, in 2009 the event was held in Slovakia, and in 2010 it was held in Denmark. This year’s host will be France and the show runs from July 7 through 10.

The practice of breeding dogs for conformation has been hotly debated. It is said to be a type of eugenics and the breeds are being refined solely on the basis of appearance. Some working dog breed organizations have struggled to keep their breeds from being listed in the AKC due to their fears that the dogs’ characteristics which make them wonderful work animals will be bred out of the line. They also fear that too many of the breed will be siphoned off as show dogs and they will not have enough dogs to do the work they were meant for. There are also health issue concerns with this interbreeding practice.

“Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot little puppies.” – Gene Hill

“A really companionable and indispensable dog is an accident of nature. You can’t get it by breeding for it, and you can’t buy it with money. It just happens along.” – E B White

“Even the tiniest Poodle or Chihuahua is still a wolf at heart.” – Dorothy Hinshaw

“I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.” – John Steinbeck

Also on this day:
The Kelly Gang – In 1880, Ned Kelly was captured.
Going Home – In 2000, Elián González was sent back to Cuba.

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