show your support

Showing Your Beagle

The breeder mentioned that your puppy had show potential and you now find yourself wondering if maybe you should give dog shows a try with him. Maybe you’ve watched Westminster or Crufts on television or seen the online streaming videos. Perhaps you’ve never been to a dog show in your life. If the latter is your answer, you need to start by attending a show.

What is a Dog Show?

At its base, a dog show is supposed to be about evaluating breeding stock to see if it meets the breed standard. The latter is like a blueprint that clearly describes the important features of the dog that allow him to fulfill his purpose as a hunting hound. They talk about features that affect endurance, agility, speed, ability to pick up scent, etc. It should define the ideal Beagle. Now a standard can be interpreted a number of different ways but there are some things that are essential to identifying a dog as a Beagle. For example, have you ever seen a solid white Beagle? No.

A judge cannot evaluate your dog’s ability to hunt in a show ring. What he can evaluate is if your Beagle has the right characteristics to be able to do his job out in the field provided that he has the nose and drive that makes a good hunting dog.

If you have never read the breed standard for the Beagle. That is where you should start your journey. Ask your breeder to help you with terms that may be unfamiliar and in interpreting the standard.

Handling Your Beagle in the Ring

You can handle your dog in the show ring yourself or you can hire someone else to do it for you. Your breeder may also be willing to handle the dog in the ring since he is a reflection of their breeding program. Regardless of who takes your Beagle into the ring, he will need some training so that he knows what is expected of him and he is prepared for the examination.

The easiest way to learn about ring handling is by taking a class. Many kennel clubs, handlers, and breeders offer classes that are designed to teach beginners and their dogs about what happens in a show ring. They will teach you how to stack your dog in a pose that shows off his best features and how to move him for the judge. Dogs are evaluated on the move, usually from the back, the front, and the side. Dogs are also evaluated in a stacked pose. During the latter, the judge will physically examine your dog, checking his bite, physical structure and genitalia. It’s a hands on exam. If you have a male dog that has never had anyone check to see if he has two testicles, you’ll want to start practicing that as it isn’t something most pet owners do and it can be startling for an unprepared dog.

Basic Requirements & Suggestions

Dogs cannot be shown for points at official American Kennel Club (AKC) shows until they are at least 6 months of age. Some club shows will offer fun classes for puppies that are four to six months of age where they get ring experience but do not compete for championship points.
Dogs being shown must be intact unless they are competing in the veteran class. This means they cannot be neutered or spayed. Dogs must also be AKC registered or registerable. If they are registerable but not already registered, you must complete their registration within a certain time period after the show or any points they may have earned will be lost.

Classes are divided by age and sex. Specialty shows for specific breed(s) may offer some extra classes that are not normally offered at a regular show. When completing the entry form, you need to use the age your dog will be on the day of the show. Entries are almost always required to be completed in advance and shows advertise their closing date by which entries must have been submitted.

Your Beagle should be clean with trimmed nails. You should be dressed in business casual or business style dress. Do not wear your jeans. You will received a confirmation of entry along with a schedule of when the Beagles will be judged in advance of the show. On the day, arrive with plenty of time to get settled in and find your ring. Watching the judge evaluate a few breeds in advance of Beagle judging can help make you familiar with his ring procedure.

Most importantly, have fun. Showing dogs is a sport like any other. If you don’t enjoy it, you shouldn’t be doing it. Win or lose, you will bring the same Beagle home that you arrived with and he will be every ounce as wonderful regardless of the outcome.

Kerstin Wellekötter/Flickr

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).