A sanctioned dog show is serious business for the owners, handlers and breeders. Its a chance to showcase the best example of the dog breed and to walk away with points towards a championship title. Preparing the dog for a jaunt around the ring begins hours prior to the show. Many breeds sport a simple wash and go coat but others require hours of intensive brushing, clipping and primping before stepping into the ring. Brilliant white coats must shine to perfection with no stains or discolorations. Black coats should glisten and be free of dandruff or other unsightly debris.
Behind the scenes at a dog show is a beehive of activity. Blow driers run nonstop. Hair spray is freely utilized to control the blow away hair or stray strands that might pop out of place while the dog prances in front of the judge.
Certain breeds; such as the poodle, shih tzu, bichon frise and afghan require hours of grooming prior to a show. Even arctic breeds will need trimming and hours of extensive brushing to fluff their coat to its maximum ability.
A wide variety of shampoos and conditioners are utilized to bring out the dogs natural highlights and colors. White dogs stain easily and require applications of stain removers around the eyes and on the paws to whiten their coat to perfection.
Special concentration is paid to the dog’s face. The fur is shaped and trimmed to highlight the dog’s bone structure. Whiskers are normally trimmed or completely cut back.
The dog’s feet are trimmed and the nails clipped or ground down. Long nails can detract from the dog’s overall foot appearance and give it as splayed look which is undesirable.
Prior to walking into the ring a handler will make sure he has a cloth on hand to wipe away any stream of drool or runny eye that may occur. Fluffy or long-haired breeds will receive a last minute brush before the judge takes a look at the dog. Even in the ring many handlers continue to primp the dog and comb its hair in the most flattering way while they await their turn to parade in front of the judge.
Dogs that are seriously shown on each weekend have regular grooming and maintenance to keep their looks in optimum form prior to ever stepping foot back in the ring. Many dogs are regularly ran on a treadmill. Most are maintained on special diets to keep their fur looking its best. Dogs are brushed and combed daily. Most have minor clippings throughout the week so the fur does not become scraggly and require extensive removal at the time of the show.
Handlers and owners usually groom their own dogs. Rarely will a professional be employed to groom a show dog. Most handlers and owners have years of experience caring for the coat of their chosen breeds. The show dog’s coat is also maintained and clipped far more elaborately than a normal house dog.
A dog show is a labor of love by all those involved. Most genuinely enjoy the advance grooming preparations of their dogs as much as the actual activity of the show ring.