Originally appearing in ShowSight Magazine, September 2015 Issue. Click to subscribe. Photo by Daniel Cartier for ShowSight.
In the entire United States, entry numbers have taken a crash in our shows.
What do we need to change, present or introduce to bring back our dogs into the rings?
AKC has engaged an independent company to explore and find the cause of low entries in our shows, but it appears it has been for a loss. There have been volunteers, too, by groups to dig into areas to fine the reasons to the why and what. We definitely need to propagate means and pick the brains of the show chairs and those involved with shows. We are beyond waiting for something to improve on its own. We must take charge and it must be done soon or else—you know what that will mean!
Do you have any ideas on how we can turn around this decline and lack of interest in our sport?
For advancement and improvement of our entries, we need good publicity about our sport to the general population. The sport needs YOU! Promote your dogs as healthy canines due to your education about dogs and the better care you give to them.
Any suggestions that you may have for the AKC to promote our breeds and sport to the general public?
You may be just the icing on the cake that AKC needs to get started onto a new trail. Promote your ideas and keep the public informed to the lifestyle of the breeders and the care and affection given to their dogs. The more we promote our caring ways toward our canines, the better we will appear before the general public.
What do you think of the decline in the dog show entries; what do you think is causing it?
There are many specials entered, but it is disappointing to find no entries in the classes for most of the breeds! What is happening? I know of a show giving club that always attracted at least 1,000 dogs in its two day show event in the middle of March. Last year and this year, the entries were down to less than 290 dogs per day. They are not the only show giving clubs to have entries fall out of the bottom... it’s happening all over the country! The entries at the shows have become a scary low! We must wake up or else there will no longer be shows.
Ideas from AKC Show Judges
I had the opportunity to enlist the ideas from some AKC Show Judges to define the reasons and the whys of our low dog show entries. The judges are from around the country and have been judging for some years and made striking good judgments in all their efforts. Here are their names and their own opinions. Please note, that these are wise comments and great ideas—all for the betterment of the continuation of the sport of show dogs.
MERLE & CAROL TAYOR
What do you think of the decline in the dog show entries?
What do you think is causing it?
Can you make suggestions as to what may help?
• I suggest that the club have a “rent a ring” set up at shows for owners to practice with their dogs or puppies. They could charge $5.00 per five minutes to practice. This would help the new exhibitor with puppies and new dogs to the sport.
• Suggest to your organization to seek club members to place them in specific fields, as in giving them new experience in given jobs.
• Another suggestion is to have a picnic once a year so the members can socialize. In addition, have a health day for the dogs.
• A general hit for most clubs is to have a holiday party for all the members and spouses.
• A big advertisement is to hammer away at the visitor bureau; contact media. Publish the results on purebred dog’s health. The TV is a great place to see Show Dogs—both before and after the shows.
• We are against the 4 to 6 month classes for puppies at the shows.
• Each breeder/exhibitor in every club should be open to assist new individuals. No charge what-so-ever to the new members. In 2016, clubs can expect big entries in the 4 to 6 month class; it’s an easy, friendly class.
• We will be fighting for survival. It’s an electronic world; need to be proactive.
• AKC needs reps to assist clubs; to direct and assist new exhibitors. American Kennel Club is GOLD.
• Individual clubs need to do more for the homeless animals. Individuals can do some alone—be giving.
• We in the dog game of showing/judging/breeding are facing an uphill battle. An important aspect is to continuously promote health testing for our dogs. How society is viewing our pure bred dogs is contradictory to us.
• Stop scaring newcomers away. Get rid of contracts. We have to be smarter to new customers.
• American Kennel Club needs new leadership. They should be promoting our dogs. Concentrate on what works in the dog world... understand what is wanted.
• We should pattern ourselves like 4-H; they promote their clubs with good strong leadership; there is no decline in their organization.
• What is in the future for us? Not like it is today.
• Having Specialty Clubs a day before an all breed show does improve the entry. The Specialty Clubs should come in at a low cost to improve and keep them for the following year.
• Another aspect that is improving the entry for the all breed clubs are the owner/handler entry. At our last local show, we had a 450 entry (150 of those dogs were entered in the owner/handler classes)
• AKC needs to help the sport with advertisement. The entry fees are not going down and with the economy the entries in number are not going up.
• We need to keep promoting our dogs... health checks given; testing; vaccinations given.
• Clubs need publicity; have specialties as it improves the entry; promote owner/handler classes.
• There is a need to cluster shows: Owensboro Club could cluster with Lexington to make is a 4 or 5 day cluster; or have one show in the morning and another in the afternoon (two different clubs…does not make it too hard on the members).
• Never forget to court the Specialty Clubs, also. They support the entry at the All Breed shows.
• The 4 to 6 month class is a good thing: it supports and builds the entry.
• Entries are down! There is a need for other components; outside means. A survey is a means for info; it is helpful and cost effective.
• The fancy as a whole has too many dog shows! In certain parts of the country, it’s the economy that hurts! The costs are rising extraordinarily in many parts of the country.
• There is the cost of the infrastructure—indoor/outdoor; plus costs of judges have risen; 4 to 6 months group reduces the entry. Two shows in one day is not a good thing and part of the problem.
• To judge 175 dogs in the morning and afternoon is not clarified by the AKC. Does one charge one or two fees for that? One must be able to judge 4 groups for the 4 to 6 month class... it’s too much!
• We must use the media to promote the shows and bring people in the gates. Use the news and television media.
• Promote better care for all dogs; know reliable breeders; good breeders have dogs with great temperaments; our dogs can do this and that!
• Kennel Club is an enormous event for the entire family! Build up the upcoming show, build up the breeds—know what you are getting in a certain breed; promote the show dog.
• Build up the “Meet the Breeds” program. It’s an excellent concept to promote pure bred dogs!
• AKC is helping with a newly designed website… it helps to reach different likes and different breeds. It’s going to offer something for everyone.
• We need to keep the public informed with dog news updates. Don’t mention the breeding.
• Bring forth news of the breeds, encouragement and facts.
• Owners/handlers are recycling dogs. We need more dogs in the rings at our shows; we need experience to work within our own communities to build our shows; training classes for our dogs.
• Learn to work within your own communities. Make relationships; get involved in community activities; participate.
• Bring new people into the clubs; more dogs into the training classes; more people to delegate an active sport and have fun.
• We need to have the AKC Gazette re-printed.
What do you think we can do to keep our sport moving along?
Why has it gone down so far?
• Too many shows; it’s the economy, also.
What about owners/handlers events?
• Not sure it helped their show in North Carolina.
• The reason we are having so many problems is because we have too many dog shows.
• The AKC is in charge of events. There are too many negatives! I feel the AKC really does not know how to put on events! They lack knowledge about the shows.