As you begin the exhaustive research for your next family dog, you’ll see the same phrase over and over again: show quality. Further, you’ll discover (rather quickly) that many reputable breeders will pitch the idea of having you own one.
But what, exactly, does show quality mean? And why should you consider owning one?!
For the uninitiated, dog shows are beauty pageants for dogs. In short, the prettiest dog gets the crown.
Dog Shows Defined. When you go to a restaurant that’s famous because of it’s chef (think Jacques Pepin, Mario Batali, or Masaharu Morimoto), you’ll know they have a particular cuisine; French, Italian, Japanese, etc. A few times a year, these chefs will participate in food festivals, bringing the best of what they have to offer with them. Pepin might contribute a light souffle. Batali might offer a decadent lasagna. Morimoto might prepare some fresh anglerfish.
In the dog universe, breeders are the chefs, and dog shows are the food festivals. We show up a few times a year, bring our “best stock,” (in other words, show quality dogs) and hope to come home with a few accolades.
If the judge was from Naples and had a deep appreciation for hand-pressed pasta sheets, victory would surely go to Chef Mario Batali.
The dog who wins is the one who satisfies the judge’s palate the best.
A collection of a few Barrett wins over the years
Below, a Q&A to help the prospective Barrett dog owner understand a little bit more about show dogs:
What’s in it for the breeder? Spending time with friends and dogs. Acknowledgement that our dishes are well-executed for the cuisine type we’re offering (in other words, breeding goals and objectives are met). Point tallies for the dog’s sire and dam. Preservation of the Weimaraner breed.
What’s in it for the owner? Getting a puppy out of the next litter versus waiting another 9-12 for a companion/family dog (because our wait list is insanely long right now). Having a really good meal (owning a dog who is a fine specimen of the Weimaraner breed). Becoming a breed ambassador so whenever you get a public inquiry about “what Weimaraners are like,” you can say with a straight face that they’re the best dogs you’ve ever had. Contributing to the betterment of Weimaraners.
What’s the time commitment required? Most people think that there’s a huge time, training, and monetary expense in keeping a show dog. Unless you’re a professional handler and spend every weekend showing dogs for a living (including Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving), or you’re Kim and compete year round in various venues (here’s our pre-COVID calendar from 2019) that’s actually not true at all.
Members of “The Barrett Collective” compete year round, but we’re strategic about who participates, when, and where, so individual dogs are only asked to join us a small handful of weekends per year. And more likely than not, that’s a total of five or six weekends spread out over the first two years. That’s it.
And on the topic of training, there really isn’t much required of you, the owner, because it’s a beauty pageant, and it’s breeding, not training, that showcases your show dog.
Winning at Westminster is the equivalent to winning at the Olympics, the U.S. Open or the Super Bowl. This is a HUGE time and cost commitment. We actually don’t compete at this level.
We’re more bush league, and that’s totally okay with us, because we have lives outside dog shows, like other dog sports (field trials, ha!), day jobs, spouses, kids, and other hobbies that suck up our time.
How much will this cost me? Not as much as you’d think. One weekend of dog shows will typically include two days; one show on Saturday and one show on Sunday. The two cost items are 1) entry fees, and 2) handling fees. On the West Coast, the entry fee for each dog at a show will typically vary between $20-$30. For a two day local show, that’s $60. For five local weekends to earn a Championship title, that’s $300. Professional handling can run $100-$200 per day. But here’s the good news: One of the benefits to owning a Barrett dog is that handling at local shows doesn’t cost you a dime. Since we’re in this together, we’ll cover that part. (There’s a whole separate set of costs to compete at the Regional or National level, but we’ll cover that separately.)
If your dog continues to have a breeding career, either as a brood bitch or a stud dog, your out of pocket expenses related to dog show entries (as well as the purchase price of your dog) is reimbursed to you. In other words, should you continue the cycle of ethical preservation breeding, your dog expenses (including food, veterinarian visits, pet insurance, etc.) may be reimbursed once the next generation is produced. In an ideal setting, this could bring your cost down to ZERO.
Do I get to own my dog outright, or is my dog co-owned with the breeder? This is an excellent question. In most cases, we do ask that show dogs are placed on a co-ownership basis. There’s an article about what it means to co-own a Barrett dog with your breeder here. In summary, “The Buyer maintains exclusive authority and responsibilities with regards to the dog’s general health and welfare,” and co-ownership is “limited to facilitation of logistical coordination related to the dog’s performance and breeding career.” Do we ever place dogs without co-ownership agreements? Yes. 🙂 Please inquire within if this is a concern for you.
What are the drawbacks to owning a show dog?
- No spay/neuter. Weimaraners shouldn’t be spayed or neutered until maturity (18 months on average) anyway, but a dog who participates in dog shows cannot be spayed or neutered. For families who rely on daycare as part of their general routine, this may not work because most doggie daycare facilities won’t accept an intact dog over the age of 6-9 months.
- Adolescent male dogs will begin marking at the age of about nine (9) months. Obedience should be a part of ANY home environment, regardless of what kind of dog you bring home, but is absolutely required of people who own male show dogs. Early and consistent behavior modification techniques is necessary to prevent the dog from marking the sofa, the dining table, the patio furniture, the mailbox, the car, other dogs, etc. Fortunately, instilled appropriately, this behavior should never be an issue again for the life of the dog. As an aside, neutering a dog will only fix the marking behavior about 50% of the time.
- Females will begin having heat cycles between 12-18 months. Girls are emotional wrecks (they get really needy and want to sit in your lap the whole time) and need to wear panties so they don’t bleed and create a murder scene in your home. Fortunately, if this occurrence is a huge inconvenience for you, you can always talk your breeders, Kim and/or Stacy, into babysitting your dog for this time period.
Are there any special requirements, like type of food, that I’ll be required to feed? No. When we place you with a Barrett dog (and this is also true of the companion/family dogs), your dog is your dog. We always suggest best practices and offer guidance based on our own experiences, but if we trust you enough to place a dog with you, we also trust that you’ll do right by your dog and there’s no need for us to interfere by mandating your lifestyle, routine, and personal choices.
What else do I need to know about owning a show dog?! Community. We’re all about it. Owning a show dog as part of The Barrett Collective means you own one of the best examples of a Barrett Weimaraner. On a day to day basis, he or she is your companion at home, and a few times a year, he or she is a public example of how great this breed can be. And should you decide that breeding your dog might be something that’s doable, we can certainly chat about that, too.
Below are a few examples of Barrett dogs whose families have allowed to participate at the dog shows. Some were shown a few times and took an early retirement (getting spayed/neutered), some were shown to their Championships and then were spayed/neutered, some completed Championships, cleared health testing, and are now waiting in the wings to be bred when the time is right, and some have done it all… obtaining Championships, clearing health tests, and going on to have successful breeding careers and contributing to the next generation of well-bred Weimaraners.
This is Ellie (2014 Torque x Friday), who was co-owned and shown by Kim in the Bred-by-Exhibitor through her Show Championship…
…and then finished with her Grand Championship with her mamma Mara.
Six years later, Mara and Ellie are still competing in AKC sports, most recently doing nose work. Although Ellie was never bred (because not every show dog makes the cut to be a breeding dog), she still represents Barrett Weimaraners as a beautiful, talented dog.
Erin and Kim met back in 2013 when Erin was looking for a “companion puppy.” Kim talked Erin into owning Gracie (2014 Max x Friday), a show AND field trial prospect puppy… and the rest, as they say, is history! Erin and Kim have since traveled the country together, competing in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada and California. We’re also besties now who own contiguous properties so we can someday build our dream houses and grow old together. #truestory
Erin’s girl, Gracie, earned a Second Place ribbon at our National Field Trial in Oklahoma in December 2015. Talk about success with a first dog!!!
Erin also tried her hand at showing Gracie, who is now a finished Show Champion. All expenses incurred by having Gracie compete were reimbursed once she became a mom and had puppies. We are now in competition with the next generation of Gracie kids, Pax, Prim, Teddy, Sierra, and Covey.
Sometime in 2015, Erin added another girl to her pack, and LadyBug (2014 Torque x Friday) went on to become a Show Champion, Field Trial Futurity winner, and then mamma to three beautiful litters of puppies.
This is Erin with “Avery,” one of Bug’s puppies, at Nationals in Oklahoma.
This is Elleven (2016 Boulder x Seren Litter). Elleven was sent to Brent and Amanda for “babysitting” while they waited for their Barrett puppy to be born. When the new litter arrived, it had been a few months and Brent and Amanda were attached to Elleven, so they asked if they could keep her. Since she was a show prospect dog (and had already earned a few points by then), Kim asked Brent and Amanda if they’d be willing to keep it going. They did, and not only did Elleven finish her Show Championship, but now Brent and Amanda are hooked into field trials and breed under L&L Weimaraners. Elleven is their foundation bitch.
And here’s Brent, at a field trial with Shelby, one of the girls he bred out of Elleven!
This is Graham (2016 Royce x Seren litter). Most days, he’s a GREAT big brother to two toddlers in his house…
…and every now and again, he’s a show dog! Here he is being shown by his mom, Kamie, because Kamie is awesome and said “heck ya, I’ll show him!”
This is Blaise Pascal. He’s owned by the Linares family in San Diego, but every now and then, they bring him out to the dog shows and he gets to show us all how pretty he is. At the end of the day, he goes back home with his family, so he’s never away from them at all. Nowadays, we are competing with some Blaise kids: Soba, Tearin, and Stevie Nicks, to name a few.
This is Kristina with Gemma, a show prospect puppy out of a litter in 2018 that was bred by Trax Weimaraners, and sired by Barrett Weimaraners. Kristina was looking for another family dog that she could have some fun with, and Kim talked her into owning the “stud fee puppy” out of the Blaise x Sparkle litter.
Here’s Kristina again, at a dog show in Flagstaff, Arizona. This was a special day since we had THREE littermates (Mavis, Kaiser, and Gemma) competing at the same show.
Fast forward to 2020. Kristina is now stepping in as a handler for Stevie Nicks (2018 Blaise x Elleven), a show girl who is owned by Tom and Jason in Arizona. Stevie will be bred in late 2021. Expenses incurred as part of Stevie’s show and breeding career will be reimbursed to her family.
This is Shadowfax, out of Boulder’s 2017 litter. On a day to day basis, Shadowfax is owned and loved by Evelyn and Solomon. For four days in 2019, Shadowfax was brought to the show grounds to compete at the dog shows… and came home a finished Champion with his parents watching in the audience. Expenses incurred with Shadowfax earning his Championship, and subsequent health testing to ensure he’s a good candidate for breeding as a stud dog will be reimbursed when he sires a litter.
This is Bogie, finishing his Show Championship (in just three weekends of being shown) with his mamma Gena (right) there to cheer him on. Most days, Bogie is a companion dog at home. Just a few weekends a year, he puts a tie on and goes to play the role of show dog. Expenses incurred from taking Bogie to the National Specialty Show and other Regional events will be reimbursed if he is ever used as a stud dog. Bogie’s health tests are currently pending.
This is Shadowfax’s sister Mattie, owned by the Feore Family in Glendale, Arizona. Due to family schedule and limited availability, Shawna Swanson of Maverick Dog Training was hired to be Mattie’s exclusive show handler. In Mattie’s case, she typically went with Shawna to the shows on a Friday and was picked up by her family on Sunday evening.
In 2020, Mattie was bred and had her first litter. The Feore Family stepped up raised the whole litter, doing a marvelous job along the way. All expenses incurred with Mattie’s show and breeding career were reimbursed with the income generated by placement of her puppies.
Mattie’s litter in January 2021.
Tearin (2018 Blaise x Bailey) is owned by Stacy and Gene (and co-owned by Kim) and competes both as a show dog and a field trial dog (competing at the National level). Because of this, competition/travel expenses are very high, but we expect to be able to reimburse ourselves from Tearin’s future puppies.
And here’s Gene, stepping in to show Tearin because Kim had another dog in the ring at the same time. Go Gene!!!!
In closing, dog shows are fun for us because it’s just as much social as it is work. A typical dog show weekend includes a handful of us and our dogs, tents, folding chairs, coolers full or beer or seltzers, light snacks and/or lunch sandwiches, celebratory champagne, and lots of laughs. Win or lose, we all go home having a great time with friends. And BONUS, our dogs are EXHAUSTED after showing, and a tired dog is good dog. 🙂 JOIN US!!!!!