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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I hope you guys don't mind if I ask a few questions about showing in conformation. Hopefully these aren't too silly...

What are the pros/cons of showing/finishing as a puppy vs. adult?

Is there a way for an owner to dabble in showing while the dog is being shown by a pro-handler? Or would dabbling need to be done before turning over to the handler?

I'd ask how long it might take to finish a dog on average, but I'm sure there are too many variables. I've seen where a dog was finished in two weeks, and others who are still working at it well over a year later. (I'm calculating the handler bill in my head can you tell LOL.)

Thank you for your patience and help :D.
 

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The biggest pro of showing a poodle puppy that I can see is you can show in a puppy clip which equals less coat care. Once they're an adult, coat growth and care becomes a lot more difficult. The con of showing a puppy is that they're a puppy and don't always show themselves to their best advantage in the ring. Also puppies can grow in strange ways and may not be conformationally correct depending on where in their growth they are.

I think some shows have novice classes you can enter. But really you might as well just enter the regular class and hope for the best. Most handlers probably won't want you dabbling while they're handling your dog, because they'll want the dog performing in the way they want. If you want to dabble, it's very worthwhile attending a handling class. My mom owner handled a couple of our PWDs to their ch and learned a lot from handling class.

It's much quicker to finish a dog in Canada than in the US. In Canada you can build up point by point and get a ch. Plus you only have to get 10 points total. In the US, you have to get 15 points total and a certain number have to be majors. That means you have to enter shows with a specific number of competitors and win.

The time it takes to ch totally does vary and depends on factors both within your control and outside of your control. Technically with a great dog and entering big shows with majors you could get your ch in a couple of week-ends. With a less great dog and smaller entry shows it could take many months. Or with a great dog it could take many months. Our friend's PWD has been in 2 shows and either has his championship or is a few points away from getting it, because he won a couple of majors and they had enough points to move him far along.

Our first PWD got her Cdn ch very quickly, got points and a major in the US very quickly and then that was it, nothing else for ages because we couldn't get to many shows and those we did get to she did nothing in. We ended up putting her with a handler just to complete it. I think it took a couple of months with the handler to complete things - she'd come home during the week and just spend week-ends with the handler. We weren't happy with the care she received with the handler though and have decided not to send our dogs away again. So our current girl has her Cdn ch but likely won't get her American because we just can't get down there enough to complete it on our own and don't want to place her with a handler.
 

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Yes you can show your own dog. In your favor, it is much easier to show a dog than bitch. Remind me how old your standard is?

How long will it take to finish your dog? It depends on how competitive your dog is, how seriously you want to take showing and how competitive your area is.

I'm not sure that this answers your question, but here are some musings on showing poodles. I think newbie owner/handlers go into showing without understanding the Poodle show culture. Showing Poodles is totally different from showing Australian Cattle Dogs for example. Showing Poodles is hard because there are high expectation for things other than just conformation and movement. Judges expect:

1. Big hair and good grooming. Even puppies are being wigged now so if you are not going to wig, your Poodle's hair has to be meticulously cared for.

2. Carriage and attitude. Poodles are expected sparkle and shine in the ring. This means a Poodle that moves with its head and tail and up in the air. I don't care how good your dog's structure is, if it gaits around with its head poked out and tail down, you won't finish it.

3. Correct handling. Poodles are expected to be beautifully hand stacked. If the handler fumbles around, judges will pass them by.

4. Correct training. Your dog will be much more competitive if it is well trained to gait correctly, stand for exam and free bait. At the big Denver show a teenage owner/handler went BOV two days with her puppy dog. It isn't so much that her Poodle is wonderful, but she has trained him very very well and he showed well.

5. Pretty. Poodle people value pretty especially pretty heads. I think every year we become more and more of a "head breed". Again, it is easier to show a dog than a bitch because judges will forgive an ugly head in a dog (it's masculine don't you know) but it is the kiss of death in a bitch (look at my Penny).
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thank you both for taking the time to answer my questions and provide information. It is VERY helpful.

It's official, we have done a co-ownership with the breeder. We're going to give showing a try, but we're not committed to anything if we can't keep up with it.

Jasper will turn 5 months old on Monday. The first show is in May. Our breeder recommends giving it a shot ourselves from 6-9 months and then turning over to a handler from 9-12 months. I start a handling class next week. I was looking forward to it but Jasper is teething and is in a brainless teenager stage right now LOL. We'll see! Our breeder, groomer/handler, and a few other breeders who have seen him seem to think he'll finish quickly. Keeping my fingers crossed, but not holding my breath.

CBrand your musings bring up good points... Other than in the bath tub, I can't think of the last time I saw him with his tail down. It may have been right after we brought him home. I'll be very surprised if we have a problem with that. He's been socialized in nearly every situation imaginable so he's used to noise (traffic, construction, loud people, PA systems), busy places, and in areas with tons of dogs. It would have to be a really traumatic, off the wall situation for him to lose the erect tail. He's naturally flashy and outgoing, with good movement and attitude. He's very much my dog, so if we place him with a handler I'll need to stay completely out of sight and earshot at shows. We'll be sure to work on the gait and stacking.

Big hair concerns me. I'm told that in New England especially that big hair is expected. I'm worried about finding a happy medium between caring for his coat but still letting him be, and play like, a puppy. Other than daily care and weekly baths, I'm going to let our groomer handle everything else. I'll do whatever she tells me to and do my best not to create problems :).

I'm always curious to see what people find to be a pretty head. It can vary so much from person to person. If you have any examples you can point me to that would be great. I know there's a very specific look that I'm attracted to in a Poodle head, and a definite look that I don't care for. Both looks seem to do well in the show ring fwiw. We'll see, I guess!
 

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Very well said cbrand. Also, you need a lot of patience to learn the grooming as well as the showing of your dog. Good Luck!
 
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