Astounding Ways of Knowing Your Bull Terriers (Fast)
SHOWING YOUR STAFFORDSHIRE BULL TERRIER
Delighted! My puppy won her class.
Showing dogs is a hugely popular pursuit and every weekend dedicated people travel all over the country to compete with their show dogs. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is one of the most popular of all the pedigree breeds. For newcomers to the breed, watching Staffords at a show will open up a whole new world for them. And for owners, actively showing their Stafford for the first time may well be the first step on the road to a lifelong hobby.
For the owners of Kennel Club registered pedigree Staffords in the United Kingdom a good selection of shows is available to them. There are numerous General Championship shows, and large shows such as Crufts. These cater for most breeds and will almost certainly include classes for Staffordshire Bull Terriers. In addition, the various Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed clubs and societies each hold their own shows for Staffords only. Generally each club holds two or three shows each year, varying from Championship shows to members only shows and open shows. If you can’t find one of these, then all over the country many show clubs and societies hold open shows that will include classes for Staffords to compete in. So there is plenty of choice for competitors.
Winners on the day.
The one thing all these shows have in common is that they are held by permission of the Kennel Club and are governed by the rules of that organization. This means strict adherence to certain procedures in showing and judging. For example, all prize cards awarded in the classes of every pedigree Kennel Club licensed dog show must clearly give the date of the show and be coloured as follows:
First in class – Red
Second in class – Blue
Third in class – Yellow
Fourth in class (reserve) – Green
Fifth in class (very highly commended) – White
Sixth in class (highly commended) – Pink
Rosettes and other prizes may also be awarded, but these are optional.
All the rosettes ready for the winners.
You may be entirely new to the breed, and have perhaps bought your first Stafford. And someone with knowledge of the breed has said your dog might do well in the show ring and really ought to be shown. This may inspire you to find out what showing is all about. Why not?
Many first-time exhibitors enter their Stafford in a show just for fun or perhaps to see how their dog compares with others. It is always an enjoyable experience, especially when you find your dog can achieve top awards alongside any of the more experienced and well established competitors. If the judge sees a good dog, he will award it the prize card he feels it merits compared with the other competitors in the class. Don’t think that only experts in the breed can reach the top. If your dog really is a good one, he will more than likely be successful in the ring if you learn how to show him to best advantage.
Almost unimaginable pride follows the award of your first prize card! It will almost certainly take pride of place in the home, and your children will proudly show it off to their friends. At this point, it is hardly surprising if the ‘show habit’ takes hold, and you start looking forward to the next show. And the next. And the greater your success, the more you look forward to the next. As you gain more and more experience, you may want to try to breed your own puppies for the show ring, and eventually you will become hugely knowledgeable about the breed. This is how most experts started!
A winning young exhibitor, pleased with her dog’s result.
SHOW TRAINING FOR YOUR STAFFORD
A newcomer to dog showing will probably already have attended a few dog shows and gained some idea of what is required. Preparation is most important. No one wants to see a complete novice dragging an untrained and bewildered dog around the ring, or for the dog to become so confused that he won’t move at all. This is all so embarrassing for the owner that he takes his beloved dog home and never sets foot in a show ring again! If only he had been given some sensible advice, and prepared his dog properly for showing. Given careful preparation and appropriate training, half the battle for success in the show ring is won by the showmanship displayed by a confident dog and the skill of the handler.
There is no great secret to showing. It is simply a matter of preparation and training so that each dog appears to best advantage in the ring. It is a joyous moment for any handler to have his dog responding happily to every command and looking his very best when standing in front of a judge and moving freely around the ring on a loose lead.
Well trained for the show ring.
A Stafford that has already been properly trained at home will experience no difficulty in adapting to what is required in the show ring. Most of the training can take place at home, but much can be gained by attending a ringcraft club. All the Staffordshire Bull Terrier clubs and societies hold ringcraft sessions run by experts who will be able to advise on all aspects of showing a Stafford. There are also general ringcraft clubs that cater for all breeds. At these sessions your Stafford will learn what he must do in the ring, and will be able to socialize with other dogs. This will be of benefit to both dog and owner.
Puppies enjoying their time to shine.
However, it is at home where most of the desired training can take place, with members of the family or friends roped in to help simulate all aspects of what is required from both dog and handler in the ring at a show. Take turns to play the roles of judge and handler. Practise standing the Stafford for examination by the judge, and teach the dog to move freely on the lead, but always under control. It is all great fun! The dog will learn to respond to praise and treats and will look forward to his regular training sessions.
Trained to walk properly with confidence.
In addition to basic training, the show Stafford need to respond instantly to a few simple commands, including ‘Stand!’, ‘Teeth!’, ‘Steady!’, ‘Walk!’ and ‘Turn!’ These commands should always be delivered in a firm, calm and confident tone. You do not need to raise your voice: a dog’s hearing is far superior to a person’s and he can pick out your voice even in the noise and bustle of a show ring. Use whatever words of command you prefer, but only apply them for one particular requirement. Never vary them as this will only confuse your dog. He will not understand a babble of confusing requests!
The following is a good example of the use of simple commands. When you are told to approach the judge and stand your dog for examination, let the dog know what is required of him with a gentle ‘Come!’ as you approach and ‘Stand!’ as you stack him for examination. Take your time to ensure he is presented to his best. Using a command such as ‘Gently’, make sure the dog’s feet are all correctly placed so he is standing in a four-square stance and that his topline is as level as possible. Check that his front is displayed to advantage, with his head poised and looking directly ahead towards the judge. Regularly repeat your gentle ‘Stand!’ command throughout the examination. When the judge examines the dog’s head, he will need to check the bite. To assist with this, and prepare the dog, give the gentle command ‘Teeth!’ When the judge has completed his hands-on examination, he will instruct you to move the dog so he can assess his movement. Give a slight tug on the lead and the command ‘Steady!’, and then ‘Walk!’ as you start to move across the ring at a controlled brisk pace. A further ‘Steady!’ may be required if the dog wanders from a straight line or impulsively tries to forge ahead. Once controlled, it will be ‘Walk!’, followed when required by ‘Turn!’ This is followed by another ‘Walk!’ command as you return to the judge. Give a slight tug on the lead and a ‘Steady!’ command to stop the walk, and be ready for any final assessment by the judge before returning to your place in the line-up. A routine of regular practice at home and always using the same commands will pay handsome dividends. A Stafford well prepared for the show ring will show at his best for you, and will not let you down. Knowing this will greatly increase your confidence, enabling the best possible performance from handler and dog.
All Kennel Club licensed shows have printed schedules that clearly set out all the relevant rules and regulations. They also include application forms that must be completed in order to enter the show. The closing date for entries will be clearly stated in the schedule. Miss this important date and your entry will not be accepted.
Schedules for shows can be easily obtained. If you belong to the organizing club, then a schedule will normally be sent to you automatically by post. Other shows will be advertised in the weekly dog press and you can apply for a schedule direct from the stated show authority. Schedules for forthcoming shows are often available at dog shows, dog training clubs and canine events. They may be posted as a matter of course to anyone who has competed at a recent show held by the organizing club. In many cases, schedules for forthcoming shows can be downloaded from the internet.
A typical show schedule.
Included with every schedule will be the entry form. This must be completed in full, with the required information clearly printed in block capitals. The dog’s name must be the exact name registered at the Kennel Club. (NB: the ‘ATC No.’ in the registered name of dog section applies only to dogs entered by exhibitors from outside the United Kingdom.) Once completed, the entry form must be signed and dated by the registered owner of the dog and sent to the named show authority, along with payment for the cost of entries and fees. Do not forget to obtain proof of posting of your entry. You will be very disappointed if you arrive at the show and find your entry has for some reason not been received. A visit to the show secretary with your post office proof of posting certificate should resolve the problem.
Proof of Postage from the Post Office should be kept for confirmation of your postal entry.
On the entry form you must include the class number(s) in which you want to enter your Stafford. The class numbers will be clearly shown in the schedule for the event. It is up to you to make sure your Stafford is eligible for each class you enter, especially in those classes where age limits are imposed, such as Minor Puppy, Puppy, Junior and Yearling. The following are the typical Kennel Club requirements for eligibility:
Minor Puppy: for dogs aged six months but not exceeding nine calendar months of age on the first day of the show.
Puppy: for dogs of six months but not exceeding twelve calendar months of age on the first day of the show.
Junior: for dogs of six months but not exceeding eighteen calendar months of age on the first day of the show.
Yearling: for dogs of twelve months but not exceeding twenty-four calendar months of age on the first day of the show.
Maiden: for dogs which have not won a Challenge Certificate or a first prize at an Open or Championship Show (Minor Puppy, Special Minor Puppy, Puppy and Special Puppy classes excepted, whether restricted or not).
Novice: for dogs which have not won a Challenge Certificate or three or more first prizes at Open or Championship Shows in Graduate, Post Graduate, Minor Limit, Mid Limit and Open classes, whether restricted or not, where Challenge Certificates were offered to the breed.
Graduate: for dogs which have not won a Challenge Certificate or four or more first prizes at Championship Shows in Graduate, Post Graduate, Minor Limit, Mid Limit, Limit and Open classes, whether restricted or not, where Challenge Certificates were offered to the breed.
Post Graduate: for dogs which have not won a Challenge Certificate or five or more first prizes at Championship Shows in Post Graduate, Minor Limit, Mid Limit and Open classes, whether restricted or not, where Challenge Certificates were offered to the breed.
Limit: for dogs which have not become Show Champions under Kennel Club regulations or under the rules of any governing body recognized by the Kennel Club or won seven or more first prizes in all at Championship Shows in Limit or Open classes, confined to the breed, whether restricted or not, at shows where Challenge Certificates were offered for the breed.
Open: for all dogs of the breeds for which the class is provided and which are eligible for entry at the show.
Veteran: for dogs of not less than seven years of age on the first day of the show.
Not for Competition: societies may at their discretion accept Not for Competition entries from breeds of dog not included within the title of the society, and at shows held over more than one day such entries may be accepted on any day from any breed.
It is always best to obtain a schedule for any show you wish to enter. It will contain directions to the venue, times of opening and commencement of judging, contact details and much useful information about the show. Stafford club show schedules will also give some information about the judges and their experience and background in the breed.
Typical entry form for a show.
For many shows these days you don’t need to enter by post but can enter and settle payment for your entries online. You won’t receive a schedule through this method but you should be able to download one. The information you provide online will be exactly the same as for entering by post. One big advantage of using this facility is that you will receive an immediate acknowledgement that your entries have been received, are accepted and being processed.
AT THE SHOW
There are two sides to holding a dog show. There is the formal, procedural side, which is concerned with the implementation and strict observance of the rules and regulations of the Kennel Club. This is in the main the function of the officers and committee of the clubs or society staging the show. An exhibitor must take the regulations into account when making his entry, but at the show he will take a far more informal approach and will be much more concerned with actually preparing his dog for showing. As long as the conventions in the ring are observed, an exhibitor is free to choose how to show his dog to best advantage. He will have his make his own choices about this.
Before setting off to a show, always plan well in advance. Don’t make silly mistakes like taking the wrong dog to the show or even arriving for a show on the wrong day – we have done this in the past! Make sure you have clear directions to get to the show and allow plenty of time for the journey. It is not uncommon for exhibitors to arrive late and miss their classes. Make sure you have all you need for your dog to keep him comfortable throughout the day.
A day out at the show.
Examples of Stafford show sets: collars and leads.
It is very helpful to get your Stafford a show collar and lead for use only for show training and for showing in the ring. He will identify with this as a change from his regular collar, and will quickly learn what it is for. There are many different types of show collars and leads available for Staffords. Many are specifically designed for the purpose and do much to positively identify the individuality of the breed.
Make sure your Stafford is presented correctly. This means he must be clean and well groomed. You should only bath your Stafford if absolutely necessary. If you do have to give him a bath, do it a couple of days or so before the show to allow time for the coat to settle down. Grooming for a Stafford means no more than a gentle brushing to remove any dead fur. Any untidy growth of fur on the underside of the tail can be trimmed off if necessary. This will help with overall appearance and emphasize that desirable ‘pump handle’ shape. This is the only acceptable form of trimming for the breed. Find someone who is experienced in doing this properly to help you. Never trim off the whiskers on the dog’s face. There is no valid or advantageous reason for their removal and it will not improve the dog’s appearance. Nor will it impress a judge.
Try to dress appropriately for the show ring. Above all, it is important that you are comfortable, especially in large classes. It is not a question of formality, but you do need to be smart. Avoid jeans and inappropriate shoes. Choose attire that will enable you to move your Stafford freely and easily to full advantage, and allow you to remain comfortable.
Dress should be smart but comfortable. There’s no doubt this dog is comfortable!
Make sure you are ready with your dog when it is time for your class to be called into the ring. Take the opportunity to watch how the judge is going about his job and what you will be expected to do. For instance, when he is judging movement, he may ask for the handlers to move their dogs straight up and down a couple of times while he moves across to judge the movement from the side. Never obstruct the judge’s view of your dog by walking on the wrong side of him. Alternatively, the judge may instruct the handlers to move their dogs in a triangle. Whatever you are asked for, be ready to do it properly.
When you enter the ring with your dog, you will be asked to line up along the sides with the other exhibitors in your class. Leave plenty of space around yourself, where your dog will not be obscured from the judge’s view. Be aware of what the judge is doing: some judges like to take an overall look at the dogs before they begin, and it’s not helpful if your dog is facing the wrong way!
Likewise, some judges like to send all the dogs in a class around the ring before they line up again. This allows them to take a good look at the general conformation and movement of all the dogs. Be prepared for this and make sure your Stafford walks well under control when dogs are moving in front of and behind him.
Before he starts examining the exhibits, the judge will usually take a walk along the line of dogs and take a good initial look at all of them from the front. He then may sometimes decide to walk round and view them from the back. Be ready for this and be sure to have your dog properly stacked and presented as the judge passes. He may well be making a mental note of the dogs that particularly attract his attention. Make sure your dog is showing himself at his best.
When it is your dog’s turn to be called forward, smartly get him into position and presented to best advantage. Never attempt to engage the judge in conversation and stay silent unless spoken to. If the judge asks you a question, reply briefly and courteously and then remain silent. After he has examined and moved your dog, the judge will signal for you to return to your place. Do so smartly and promptly, and do bear in mind that the judge may well keep his eye on your dog until you get back to your place. Keep him calm – it won’t help if he starts leaping up and down and generally lacking control.
Well presented and ready for the judge.
The judge will generally take about two minutes to complete the examination of each dog in a class. This may mean you will be in the ring for a long time if the class is large. Don’t just stand there and get bored: use it as an opportunity to practise standing your dog. Some handlers give treats to their dogs to help prevent boredom, but be careful with this approach. Your dog may become so obsessed about the treats that he won’t behave properly when being examined and moved.
Presenting your dog to advantage.
When the judge has finished his individual examinations, he will walk along the line as he makes his decision. At this point your dog must be looking his very best. Resist the temptation to fiddle and fuss about trying to adjust his presentation just as the judge comes to look at him. You could well spoil your chances of being placed by hiding his virtues at the wrong moment.
Try to relax! Any nervousness of the handler will be relayed to the dog. Correct ring training will greatly eliminate this problem and give confidence to both dog and handler. You will quickly adapt to and learn the requirements for showing your Stafford. Whether you win the class or not, remember that you will always be taking home the best dog at the show!
Ready for the judge’s choice.
When the judge has made his selections, there will be winners and losers in every class. In the spirit of the competition always courteously accept the decision of the judge on the day. If your dog has won, enjoy the success but be magnanimous towards your fellow competitors. If your dog has not been placed, congratulate the winners.