Monday, February 10, 2014

A Dog, by Any Other Name (or, Dogs by the Numbers)

EverythingDogBlog #111: Westminster - What Do All Those Letters Mean? And What About the Numbers?
Sensation, Logo of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

The world of dog shows is a mystery to many. Here are a few clues to help you “enjoy the show.” Below is a typical entry in the program at Westmister (I have taken liberties and fabricated this dog.)

   7     GCH Sweet Polly Purebread
   Breed: Rottweiler
   Sex: Bitch
   AKC: DN 20141948
   Date of 

Birth: May 24, 2010
   Breeder: Jane Doe
   Sire: Ch Sweet President Buckeye
   Dam: Bo Peep
   Owner: John Smith
   Photos: Breed Judging

Letters Before, Letters After
Letters before a dog’s name can be CH or GCH for champion or grand champion.  You (the dog, that is) have to be a champion to be shown at Westminster in conformation.
After a dog’s name you might see CGC – Canine Good Citizen. The dog has passed a test indicating his owner is a responsible pet owner and the dog is calm in crowds, is neither afraid of nor aggressive to people, can be petted, groomed and examined at the vet clinic, is not easily startled – and has passed other similar skill tests. For some dogs, the CGC may appear before the name, depending on when the CGC was obtained. There are also letters indicating obedience and rally skill, among others.
What’s in a Name Anyway?
The first part of the name is generally the name of the breeder’s kennel (LazyRiver or Hobarra or Sweetwater) while the remainder of the name belongs to that particular dog. So a dog might be named Bramver’s Royal Tuxedo (perhaps Roy or Tux for short) or Harbor’s Sky-Blue Pink (perhaps Sky for short, the ‘call name’).
Sometimes the order is reversed, giving us Stingray of Derryabah who may be called Ray or Derry or something else entirely (but never late for dinner!)
It is becoming common for a litter to have puppies’ names following a theme or all starting with the same letter. You might have a baseball theme with Batter, Babe, Catcher, Ruth and Jackie or an S-litter with Shayla, Skylar, Sandy, Simon and Sparky.
There is also a letter-limit imposed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) so you won’t be seeing a dog named “Blue Harbor’s Eye in the Sky Above Beautiful Downtown Manhattan in Winter”!
Thank goodness!
And Now, for the Numbers!
Handlers, the people on the ‘other end of the leash’ wear a number on their upper left arm, held on by a rubber band. This is the number of the dog. You will hear David Frei, the Voice of Westminster, referring to Cavalier King Charles Spaniel number 4 or Labrador Retriever number 9.
The first few single-digit numbers are reserved for the ‘top dogs’ – the five or so dogs in the breed who won so many shows during the year that they received an automatic invitation to Westmister, if they choose to attend. Other dogs in each breed, champions all, get to Westminster either by lottery or first-come, first-served status.
A judge will spend about two minutes on each dog (or bitch if it is a female – really!) He will count teeth, determine if the animal has been spayed or neutered (not!), feel bone structure and musculature, and watch the dog move from the front, the back and the side.
There, You Have
it! Now, Enjoy the show!

(This first appeared in on 10 February 2014.) (Logo credit Westminster Kennel Club)

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