Dog shows have been sources of entertainment for over a hundred years, and the most renowned is the Crufts show, in the UK and held annually.
It attracts dogs, owners, breeders and visitors from all over the world, and the coveted best in show prize. The dogs are split into 7 categories, such as Working, Hounds, Gun dogs, Whippets and Toy dogs, with each class having several categories, with prizes for best of class and best of category.
There are also 3 other events, which all dogs compete in; these are Flyball, Agility and Obedience. After all of these categories have been competed for and the winners announced, then the dog of the show will begin. This takes the previous class winners and tests them on their obedience and appearance; the latest winner was a Whippet in 2004.
Crufts is probably the largest dog show in the world and last year attracted over 21,000 dogs, a huge number by any ones reckoning. The obedience test in the show is a test of how well the dog listens and obeys its owner's commands.
Competitors gain points for performing commands well, and lose them for doing the wrong thing or if the dog disobeys. The commands include the normal sit, lie down, come and stay as well as many others including heel, walking, barking and so on. Another popular event is Flyball, which has recently been added to many dog shows around the world. The event consists of two teams of dogs, commonly used are Border Collies although many teams include Labradors and smaller dogs.
At one end of a path is a platform that when pressure is applied, by the dogs feet, a tennis ball is thrown up into the air, which the dog must then catch, and return back to the end of the path, when the dog arrives back, the next dog can be released.
The final event of this type that is commonly held at dog shows is the agility test. Here dogs run a timed assault course, with their owners running along side them. The course can include tunnels, see saws, ramps, walls fences and obstructions of various height as well as poles for weaving around. The dog with the fastest time is the winner; these courses are similar to those used to train security, police and army dogs.
The prizes at dog shows can vary drastically from event to event, often the prize for dog of the show is the largest, and can be upwards of £10,000 or over $18,000. This is often dependant upon the number of competitors, sponsorship and advertisement as well as media coverage such as televised screenings.
By Matthew Seigneur
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