For many owners of purebred dogs, the ultimate goal of raising a prize-winning pup is often on the horizon as soon as the puppy is born. Purebred dogs are often chosen to be bred and trained for competitive dog shows right from the get-go, displaying the best of the ‘ideal’ breed standards while demonstrating exceptional obedience and behavior out in the show ring. However, not every dog is capable of being show-ready, and no dog is going to be ready for a show right out of the gate. In fact, many owners put in months, if not years, of hard work in order to prepare their dogs for the ring. It’s not often you see a dog show participant running amok with poor behavior and etiquette.
One of the most prominent breeds for show is the German shepherd. While there is some debate about the development of the breed for show purposes, they are still widely regarded as dogs of prestige and beauty both in and out of the show ring. German shepherds are responsive to training with the right motivation and are often quick to want to please their owners which makes for a great show companion. However, as with all dogs, the preparation for competition is arduous and requires a great deal of commitment.
A dog show typically consists of multiple dogs of the same breed entering the ring and being observed by a panel of judges who look for particular traits in things like the dog’s gait and walk, the dog’s coat and fur colors, their idle stance, and the health of their ears, eyes, mouth, and paws. While some dog shows pit one dog against the other, other shows may compare each dog to a “standardized” look. No matter which type of show, however, your German shepherd must be trained to perform the appropriate behaviors within the show ring.
The first important thing is the walk, as dogs are often instructed to walk at a certain pace around the ring with a handler. The second is their stance when standing, where most German shepherd owners prefer to utilize a stance called the “stack”. The third is general obedience and how it comes into play within the show ring. Each of these is a potential milestone for German shepherd owners who wish to show their dog.
Before getting started, be sure that your dog meets the requirements for competing within the show that you wish to compete. Most dog shows are accepting only of purebred dogs with traceable lineages and pedigrees. Comparatively, while show rings are open mostly to purebreds, dog sports competitions like agility and rally obedience are open to dogs of all breeds, mixed or otherwise. But for breed shows, you’ll want to have your dog’s papers on hand to be able to prove that he is, indeed, the breed that is being shown.
Second, you’ll want to be sure your dog is vaccinated. Dog shows can bring him around any number of other dogs and illness can readily spread without the proper precautions. In addition to a health check, you’ll want to have a leash and collar that is standard in the show ring. This will help your dog adjust to the sort of gear that will be used later on.