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Hello:
I have been searching for a new puppy, and recently went to a Dog Show. It looked so fun to "show". I know it is a tremendous amount of work and effort, but I do want to explore the option and learn more about it. First, is there a price difference when buying the puppy? Is it difficult to get a top-notch show breeder to let an ameteur like me have a show puppy? Also, I saw alot of dogs/bitches were co-owned. What is the benefit to that? I hope these don't seem like silly questions, I just don't really know where to start. Thanks for any advice you can give me. Kim
 

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Dakota Katie River's Mom
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There can be quite a big difference in price. My suggestion is to continue to go to shows and learn as much as you can. Get to meet the breeders in your area and their dogs. It can sometimes be difficult to get a first time show dog, but if you let people get to know you and to see you are serious, it can help. Often times a new person will be required to co-own a puppy to make sure it is finished and to help guide you. What you want in a breeder if at all possible is a mentor, someone to help you and guide you. When I started in Papillons I had been going to shows with obedience and in-between helping people I'd met there who also showed in conformation. (I also had a rough collie then) Being military, large dogs, showing and having to move often would be hard, so I went with a toy breed when looking for my first show dog.) There were no Papillon breeders near me, so my mentor was a local long time Pomeranian breeder. Finding the best show dog you can is great, but often you won't get it the first time out. Like many things, you have to 'prove' yourself, that you're serious and in it to stay. It's addictive and a lot of fun. It's not cheap to do, but you will make wonderful friends and enjoy a sport with your dog, both at the show and at training classes.
 

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I don't know that the price is the thing. Most breeders I know sell show and companion pups at the same price. Some charge slightly more for show prospects, but it's not THAT much more. Especially in the grand scheme of things when you consider all the expenses of showing a dog.

I'm relatively new to conformation (Jack is 2.5 years old and our first show dog) and it is definitely not a easy thing to have a very nice puppy go to a dog show newbie. I'm not a breeder, but several breeders I know have been "burned" by newbies in the past and are hesitant to sell a show puppy to someone until they know they are serious. One huge piece of advice I'll give is that you have to get out to shows and meet people. Join your local kennel club or golden club and meet people. Let them see your face, volunteer to help out at a show, go to meetings. People can't get to know if you aren't there to get to know. There are people willing to offer advice and be mentors, but you have to pursue it.

As for the co-owns, we co-own all our dogs for different reasons. The benefit is that you get a puppy you may not have otherwise been given. Jack because we were new to conformation and they wanted to stay on him since they didn't know us very well. Once he finishes his championship (which we're hoping happens in the next month or so - fingers crossed!) they will sign off on him. With girls co-owns are significantly more complicated and you need to make sure the contract completely outlines everyone's rights and responsibilities. It can get messy and I've heard of more than one friendship that was ruined due to a co-own gone bad.
 

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Another thing, that it is not just time and effort in a show dog. It is MONEY!!!! I can not tell you how much money, I have invested in my girl. If you send off with a handler, average is around $85/per show. Plus the grooming fees and entry fees. If you leave your dog out with a handler, you have to pay expenses plus boarding. Usually $10 to $15 per day of boarding. Cost of expenses vary but average $100 or $150 extra. So add that up just for 1 week. Is around 600 for a 4 day show! If you do it yourself it will be cheaper...but you have Your gas plus hotel rooms and that all adds up.

I think if a breeder knows that you are aware of how much it is to show a dog and you are okay with this, they might take you more serious also.

Make sure you join a local kennel club and go to as many shows you can. Email breeders ahead of time and maybe you guys could meet up at the show.

Good Luck in your search.
 
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Dr. Rainheart
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I am kind of in the same boat you are. I am so interested in getting involved in this sport, but I also know it is not something I can handle right now (especially financially). Hopefully in a few years I will be able to!
 

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You've received some awesome advice. I would recommend getting active with any dog you currently have. Get some titles on him or her in rally, obedience, agility, even the Canine Good Citizen & Therapy Dog certifications. It will show you're serious about your dogs and have time to put into their success.

I think getting a quality male show prospect is probably easier than a female. Good breeders breed for themselves and will usually keep pick bitch puppy or for a close friend. The stud dog's owner may also keep a puppy in lieu of a stud fee. If you're set on a female, there can be co-ownerships but there are breeders that will sell you outright with conditions of clearances and a championship. With the females you also have to deal with heat cycles which makes conformation more challenging as they blow their coat more often. There is also a risk of pyometra, especially if you don't intend for this bitch to ever have puppies or be bred.

I have also heard that you are extremely lucky if your first show dog actually "turns" out. I'd also recommend finding a breeder that lives in your area because that relationship will be invaluable to you as you learn. There is so much to learn!

My dog's breeder charges the same for pet puppies as show puppies. She doesn't have a crystal ball. All that she does know is that this puppy, at 8 weeks, has no faults and is at that time the best pick for conformation.

I highly recommend joining your local golden club. You'll meet plenty of local breeders and get to see their dogs. Pick a breeder that you feel comfortable with AND you like the look of their dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you everyone for your replies, they have been so helpful!
If you show a male dog, does that mean I can't get him neutered? If that is the case, how will that effect his personality?
Thanks!
kimmysq
 

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Dogs who show in conformation cannot be neutered or spayed. However, they can compete in all of the other AKC venues. And conformation can be a money sink... At least in other venues, a certain amt of qualifying scores will get you a title.
 

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I guess my wife and I got lucky and hit it out of the ball park the first time up to bat. Ryley wasn't pick of the litter or anything like that.. we just told the breeder that we first of all wanted a family pet and if he turned out to be show material, that we would be interested in showing him. All the pups from Ryley's litter cost the same ($1200) as far as I know. He has terrific genes (his sire was Canada's top Golden in 2010 and he did pretty well the few times he was shown in the USA (went home with Best of Winners at the Golden Retriever Club of America 2010 National show).

Showing can be expensive but you certainly can cut down the costs if you learn to show him yourself.
 

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In Canada,conformation showing is less expensive than the US....
 

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Thank you everyone for your replies, they have been so helpful!
If you show a male dog, does that mean I can't get him neutered? If that is the case, how will that effect his personality?
Thanks!
kimmysq

I think that with proper training, there is no difference in personality. From the time we brought our boy home, we trained him and didn't accept behavior we didn't want from a 60-70 lb dog. I think that goes for any puppy, not just those that will remain intact. He didn't do much humping behavior as we discouraged it so it hasn't been a problem for us. We socialized him a lot, with all types of dogs, intact and altered. We brought him to dog shows to experience the hub-bub.We take a class once a week and have since puppyhood. At first puppy classes, basic, beginner novice, rally, and conformation. He is the most happy go-lucky dog with a great temperament. I think if you put the effort in to any puppy, you will reap the benefits. He is my first show dog and this is just my novice experience.

If you live near Canada, I would also explore showing in the CKC for a Canadian championship. It seems to be less competitive than some parts of the USA. It would be a good place to start.
 

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Another option is to get started in one of the many other areas of dog competition. Obedience, agility, field work....all are a lot of fun to do with your dog, and would show breeders in the future that you are dedicated and not just some fly by night person that had a whim to do this and won't quit after a few months.
 
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