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TOP DOGS: Becoming a Champion

By: Jonalee Merkel Email
By: Jonalee Merkel Email

American Kennel Club dog events draw more than three million entries annually, with a lot of pooches competing in dog shows. Their owners, of course, hope to end up with a top dog. But the process of getting a superstar pooch isn’t easy.

In fact, it takes 15 points awarded to a dog at several different shows just to get an AKC Championship and earn a title like Champion Tupelo Shoboat tu China tu, the number one ranked pug owned by Patt and Ray Kolesar of Wisconsin Rapids.

“They’re judged on their structure. They’re judged on their movement and the coat,” breeder and handler Nancy Powell said. “Once they become an AKC Champion, they hold that title their entire life.”

From there, the real fun and work begins in a process known as specializing.

“So when you see dogs like Patti’s pug, he’s a special and he’s continuing be campaigned so he can be ranked in the country,” Nancy said.

There are two forms of ranking in the United States – breed points and all breed points, which are broken down into seven groups of dogs.

“Once you come out of that, if you win that group, then you go on to best in show,” said Nancy.

It’s through this very long process of elimination that the nation’s top dogs are revealed.

"Every breed has a standard that's set by the breed club and the AKC and so you try and make a dog as close to that as possible,” said breeder Shelley Plucker.

"If you get a super good dog, a really nice, well put-together, well-moving dog and you can handle that dog, well the judges are going to find you and that dog is going to win,” Nancy said.

Win not only a pretty ribbon, but a paw print in the dog show world’s walk of fame.


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