What is the purpose of dog showing and what do you want to achieve?

Dog showing has a different objective for different people. To some the thrill of winning is what keeps them going back show after show. To others a day out with family, friends and their dog (s) is their weekend entertainment. The dedicated breeders want to showcase their dogs and gain recognition for their successes. There are still more reasons not yet mentioned. For many it is a combination of all of the above.

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No matter what your reason is for showing your dog, it is important to remember that dog showing is a SPORT and should be viewed with this in mind. This means that you have to be a “sportsman” to take part. You can be a “good” or “bad” sportsman. You need dedication, commitment, training and practice. Your dog’s success in the show ring is largely up to you!

Let me say this once more: Your dog’s success in the show ring is largely up to you! The amount of effort that you put into your sport will determine the level of success that you achieve. I have seen good trainers and handlers take an average dog into the ring and win big. Of course the opposite is also true. Many a good dog has been ruined by poor training and poor handling resulting in a promising puppy achieving nothing.

A typical scenario: The breeder sells a puppy to a novice who intends to show. Novice takes the puppy to incorrect training. The puppy is presented at its first show, runs around the show ring and immediately sits when the handler stops running to show the dog? This is what it was taught in training so the dog is not at fault. It takes the owner months to teach the dog to stand correctly. The owner presents the dog at another show but has failed to train himself to run in a straight line, thereby preventing the judge from correctly assessing the movement of the dog. The owner cannot show the teeth correctly, preventing the judge from correctly assessing the bite and jaw structure. The owner gives up showing the dog because it is a poor specimen and blames the breeder for the “faults” resulting in no wins at the shows! Alternatively the owner blames the judge because only the “known” handlers ever win.

Another typical scenario: Handler “B” takes on a new show puppy, either bred by him or brought into his kennel. From day 1 the puppy is fed the correct diet. The puppy is socialized correctly and trained to stand, gait show teeth and a number of other show “tricks” the handler has learned from experience. The puppy is groomed correctly from the start. This attention and training helps to turn the puppy into a self confident dog, comfortable among other dogs and people in different surroundings. The handler knows how to present his dog to the best advantage. The handler knows how to groom the dog and knows the rules and regulations applied in the ring.

In the above 2 scenarios, assuming both dogs are of equal quality, which dog do you think is going to win? I will put my money on the experienced handler 99% of the time. Does the dog win because the handler knows the judge? Or because he has the better dog? Or because the judge is incompetent? I think not. The dog wins because it was better prepared and better presented than the losing dog. If your chosen sport was Squash, Tennis, Rowing, Swimming, Sprint races or anything else you would have to be trained in the sport and you would have to apply that training by practicing continually in order to be better than your competitor. THE SAME PRINCIPLE APPLIES TO DOG SHOWING!

So, you want to show your dog. Great. The sport needs new contestants the same way other sports need new contestants. Dog showing does not have to take over your life but you do have to make a commitment to invest time in yourself and your dog in order to achieve any success in the sport.

Let us look at what you will need to show your dog.

If you plan to buy a puppy to show, take a moment and go back to the page on Selecting a breeder. Here you will realize that you need to put in some effort from the start. Every breeder should welcome a potential show home with the same enthusiasm as winning the lottery. Here is a puppy owner that will possibly take your puppy to championship status and fame and recognition in the show ring! Alternatively, perhaps the puppy owner will make a total mess and the puppy will reflect badly on the breeder?

If you want to show your Saint Bernard dog, pick the best specimen that you can afford and make it better by training yourself and your dog and practicing until you get it right. This means attending a good training class where the trainer has experience in dog showing, with Saint Bernards if possible. You need to study the Official Standard to ensure that you know what a Saint Bernard should look like. You should also attend a few shows as a spectator. This will help you to identify the good and bad points in your dog which should enable you to show the dog better.

I personally have brought many dogs into my kennel, some from South Africa and others imported from European countries. Not one of these dogs was perfect. I had to continually compare each dog with the requirements of the standard in order to present the dog effectively in the show ring. However, in each case I acquired the best dog that I could under the circumstances. Not once did I ever complain to any breeder that the puppy I bought was not good enough! I worked with what I had chosen. Of the dogs brought into my kennel I have made up 12 champions so far. If I can do it then so can you.

Show Entry requirements

In order to show your Saint Bernard it has to be registered with the correct authority in your country. Only the breeder can do this. It is not possible to buy an unregistered dog and register it yourself. Once you receive the registration certificate from the breeder transfer the dog into your name.

While it is not compulsory, you should become a member of the official dog controlling body in your country,  as well as a member of the Saint Bernard club. How can you keep up to date with your sport if you do not belong to the official organizations that control that sport?

In each country there are dedicated web sites advertising the schedules of dog shows This is basically a program for each show, listing dates, venues, judges and other info needed in order to enter your dog in the show. You will need to complete an official entry form which you must send with the entry fee to the secretary of the show holding club before the advertised closing date. There is a dog show almost every weekend somewhere !  Exhibitors travel regularly between the major centers to attend shows.

On the day of the show ensure that your dog is clean and correctly groomed and arrive at the show venue by the advertised starting time. Collect your entry number from the secretary office if you have not received it in the post. Be ready when the steward calls your number and take your dog into the show ring and show it as you will have been trained. Take your prizes and dog home and plan your next show. It really is as easy as that!


Championship status

In order to qualify as a champion your dog must win points under  different judges. These points systems vary from country to country, so check the actual requirement with your official controlling body for your region.

Basically only 1 dog and 1 bitch of each breed can earn  points towards champion status at any show, and these need to be the best dog and bitch exhibited in all classes except some restricted classes such as the champions class. If there are a high number of entries then the winning dog will earn extra points. A judge may withhold the awarding of points it is felt that the dogs entered are not of sufficiently high quality.

The Best of Breed winner and Best puppy winner will compete against all other BOB and Best puppy winners respectively for group wins. Saint Bernards are part of the Working Group and will compete against other BOB working dogs. The group winners (7) will compete for the Best in Show award.

Youngstead Saint Bernards have won countless Best of Breed and Best Puppy awards, many group awards and  Best in Show awards at All Breeds shows, as well as many  Best Puppy and Best in Show awards  at specialist Saint Bernard shows and Trophy shows.


Showing your dog  can be a pleasant rewarding activity if you approach the sport with the correct attitude. At worst your dog will lose and you will have spent the day outdoors with your pet and your family and friends. Your dog may win at some level, spurring you on to achieve more and more success. Perhaps you will achieve greatness by promoting the first in a series of successes in the show ring. Whatever the outcome, approach dog showing as a sport, have fun and respect your competitors and their dogs. Remember, at any competition be it Golf, Racing, Cricket or Dog Showing, there is only 1 winner on the day.


Article to Follow: Training your dog for the show ring, and correct Show Handling