While we were walking last week, a gentleman stopped to admire Kunga and began asking questions about him. Of course I had to brag a bit and tell him that Kunga’s my champion show dog boy.
“Really?” he said. “What’s the difference between a show dog and any other dog?”
That’s one of the more interesting questions I’ve had about Kunga, and it made me think a bit before answering.
Let’s see…a show dog requires all the same basic obedience training that a pet does: they have to be house-broken, learn to come when called, walk nicely on a lead, and behave around the house. They still need all the same equipment any other dog does: dishes, beds, toys, collars. And of course they need the same vet care.
But a show dog has probably been better bred than a mutt, and selected for beauty, health, good temperament, and ability to perform. The show dog had better be very well socialized to people and other animals, as well as used to loud noises, strangers petting him in intimate places and looking at his teeth, and long car rides. The pet dog may not have to have the patience of a show dog, who has to endure apparently endless hours in a crate waiting for their turn, then run around a ring several times, which must seem incredibly pointless to the dog. If the dog is showing in agility or the other performance events, he had better be well-trained and in terrific physical shape. If they’re conformation dogs, they have to learn to stand quietly for an exam and run smoothly with a handler upon demand.
But other than that? My show dog lolls around in the sun most days, and is just as good as any other dog at getting muddy or wet and tracking it all into the house. Both my show boy and my non-show girl demand a lot of ear-scratching and tummy rubs and regular meals and walks. And I brag about the astonishing abilities of my non-show Bloodhound as much as about the achievements of my boy. After all, she’s smart, he’s just good-looking.
So next time I’m asked, I’d have to say the differences are: not much!