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I’m just curious... I got an Irish Setter when she was a year old. She had been raised for confirmation shows but she grew 3” too tall, which is why they didn’t keep her. She was gorgeous!

After agreeing to take her, their daughter told me more about her. She had been kept primarily in a kennel her whole life. She was taken out 3 times a day for potty and regulated exercise, and for grooming and training. I felt so sorry for her... she didn’t even know how to play! (She did learn after awhile after we got her).

That has been my only experience with show dogs. Is it still the same? Do you all play with your dogs and let them stay in the house and sleep with you? Do they get lots of old fashioned loving and time with you?

Please forgive me for sounding so ignorant, I just don’t know.


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Well think about all of the emphasis everyone here places on good breeder practices. Near the top of the list in that is always having dog raised in home with lots of socialization with all sorts of people.


My poodles are performance dogs yes, but loving companions who sleep on people furniture and never spend time in crates other than at trials first and foremost.
 

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For many years I bred and raised dogs with the goal of having conformation champions who were also great pets. I usually had about six or eight adults and some puppies. Although dogs had a crate or pen (depending on size) in the kennel room, all had lots of playtime in a 1/2 acre fenced yard and also time in the house. Every dog was petted and loved on every day. It helped that there were neighbor kids who like to play with them!

The majority of show dogs are kept as house pets. This was not true 50-60 years ago, but the day of big show kennels has ended. When I sent my miniature poodle to her breeder, a professional handler, she lived in the house there, too, along with the handler's dogs. The dogs who are top winners are almost always kept in the handler's home so that they develop a very strong bond with the handler. When they are travelling to shows, the top dogs usually share the bed with the handler!


Zoe lives in the house along with three other dogs. She loves going to a show when i take the camper because she gets to sleep in the bed. At home she sleeps in her crate - only the senior dog gets to sleep on our bed because there really is only room for one dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
All of that is so good to hear! Yes, I would expect the top winners to be pets and loved and played with by their owners because of the bond they share.

Thank you so much for responding! It makes me really happy to hear that!


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I got Babykins from the breeder (sire) who is also a professional handler and was preparing her for the conformation ring. Her sister did compete and earned her championship. She was one of two pups held back for conformation from the litter.

I got her at 10 months because she was a little tall. She was trained only for conformation. She wanted to stand stacked all the time. I had trouble teaching her to sit and lay down. One benefit is you can stick you hand anywhere inside her mouth, and in places most dogs won't tolerate - places where a judge might feel as part of the ring exam. Someone did a fabulous job socializing Babykins - she loves men, women and children/

When I brought her home, she clearly knew about living in a house. Unlike friends who have greyhounds retired from the race track - my dog knew how to go up stairs. She slept in the bed under the covers cuddled up next to me that first night and never whimpered. Someone had tossed toys for her to run and fetch - darn dog would never return them, she loved to run around with them in her mouth. I used to take her to a small dog social hour at the local Humane Society - she loved running with the other dogs - she must have run around with and played with the other poodles at the handler's. As soon as we got home she jumped on the couch to snooze. When not on a couch, she's in a dog bed.

This was not a dog raised and primarily kept in a kennel/crate/expen.

I compete with her in several dog sports - but her main job is to be a couch potato laying next to me on the couch. She's a well loved pet who spends a minimal time in crates during trials - and she's always happy to go into her crate. She has a crate at home that she sometimes goes into to eat her Kong or when she's tired and doesn't want the cat to bother her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I got Babykins from the breeder (sire) who is also a professional handler and was preparing her for the conformation ring. Her sister did compete and earned her championship. She was one of two pups held back for conformation from the litter.

I got her at 10 months because she was a little tall. She was trained only for conformation. She wanted to stand stacked all the time. I had trouble teaching her to sit and lay down. One benefit is you can stick you hand anywhere inside her mouth, and in places most dogs won't tolerate - places where a judge might feel as part of the ring exam. Someone did a fabulous job socializing Babykins - she loves men, women and children/

When I brought her home, she clearly knew about living in a house. Unlike friends who have greyhounds retired from the race track - my dog knew how to go up stairs. She slept in the bed under the covers cuddled up next to me that first night and never whimpered. Someone had tossed toys for her to run and fetch - darn dog would never return them, she loved to run around with them in her mouth. I used to take her to a small dog social hour at the local Humane Society - she loved running with the other dogs - she must have run around with and played with the other poodles at the handler's. As soon as we got home she jumped on the couch to snooze. When not on a couch, she's in a dog bed.

This was not a dog raised and primarily kept in a kennel/crate/expen.

I compete with her in several dog sports - but her main job is to be a couch potato laying next to me on the couch. She's a well loved pet who spends a minimal time in crates during trials - and she's always happy to go into her crate. She has a crate at home that she sometimes goes into to eat her Kong or when she's tired and doesn't want the cat to bother her.


That’s so cool! I would almost expect a breeder to do it like they did 40 years ago, but they didn’t. I am so happy to learn the show dogs are primarily pets! It really does my heart good.

I had always felt so bad for Tina, my setter. My dad taught her to play by gently slapping his jeans leg back and forth on her nose. She never fought it, but by the second time grabbed it, and for the first time ever she played tug of war. After that everything we introduced to her was accepted with a huge curiosity.

I think I knew deep down inside what y’all would say as I have seen different relationships in the ring with owners
And handlers. (My dad and I would go to many dog shows each year).

Thank you for sharing your story. It kind of renews a little faith in humans.


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It depends on the person. Some have 'kennel dogs' some have house dogs. It depends on how many they have generally, though not always. I don't think that properly housed kennel dogs is the worst thing in the world. Is it how I would keep my own dogs? No, but as long as the dogs are happy and not stressed and get some daily attention I don't think it' something awful.
My dog's breeder has kennel dogs, but once they're done showing they are usually placed into pet homes (sometimes with agreements to come back for breeding) so most dogs go to pet homes by 8 months-12 months (most dogs are just finished, which in canada usually isn't too hard then rehomed, only a few are kept back to special) and a couple of her favourite dogs that are retired live in her house.
If the dogs are on the road for most weekends showing with a handler, they simply have to be kennelled for a fair bit of the time. Either while travelling, or at the shows, or at the handler's house (you can only have so many intact dogs of different breeds/temperaments loose in the house at a time) so it isn't as much of a shock to kennels dogs to 'go on the road' if they're used to that kind of life at home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So I can appreciate that as most dogs are done by about 8 months. At least they are not kept in kennels for that long and then get to be a family pet. I just remember back in the 70’s that dogs were being shown at 2+ years. I just worried about that as it’s a very long time in the life of a dog.

Thanks for being honest and showing me the other side of it.


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I have a friend who used to breed labs - she still has one left. She kennels her dog. She owns a bed and breakfast and doesn't allow her dog in her house. She also runs a kennel where people can board their dog when they are on vacation. I know her because she takes several class with me at my dog club and competes in rally and nose work. She loves her dog and spends a fair amount of time with her, but not in the house. Her dog is very friendly and sweet.
 
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