The show ring and its effects on dog breeds

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Mon Apr 9, '12 6:19pm PST 
What is the paper's objective, though? Is it about standards, the national breed registries, etc.? It would be hard to do a paper, looking at show splits in the BC, which also covers something like Cavs....there are no working splits, there nor would there be. So there would be no connecting those two. Or for something like GSDs, as the most elite show world for them occurs through breed sponsored shows....the SV, vs the AKC or KC....where the dogs are titled in performance also, but are just as extreme as the AKC/KC show dogs. Your paper's focal point would need to define the breeds. Very hard to find that point using the BC, GSD and Cav. One of them doesn't have a working split, one of them has a prestigious show world separate from the AKC/KC. The Cav and BC have a connect in that AKC affiliation was strongly resisted, but the GSD wouldn't qualify in that set, as there was no controversy within the breed pursuing AKC affiliation.

So the first thing you need to do is think of the objective for your paper. Then find breeds who are good to study as representative of whatever that conflict being reviewed is.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Mon Apr 9, '12 9:50pm PST 
Hiya, Guest wave I just got your pmail but thought I'd answer publicly here in case anyone else wanted to contribute some insight, or good leads.

If you want to examine how breeds have changed over the years, a couple of things. Breed standard vs show ring in terms of the cause.

I think the first "cause" is that we as people like to breed for extreme things. Good examples of this would be breeding for color mutations in things like fish or birds. Really huge horns on cattle. We like to miniaturize or maximize, etc. You pmailed as a cat, so maybe you know something about cat breeds...many of them are getting a mutation and running with that ball, resulting in stump legged cats, ear fold cats, weird coat cats and so on. Being human, we like to feel...now this is my opinion, right? wink, but it actually could be a center part of your paper as to what YOUR opinion might be....that we have control of our universe, and I think it pleases us to trick around with nature in this way. It can become a passion, bring a sense of satisfaction. Sometimes, as with the Arabian horse, the result is very beautiful. And sometimes it can be a little bizarre. But it is something we do....definitely one of the passions that can "click" in terms of what we are drawn to. We also, will note, have bred towards extremes for functional purposes, like the big heavy draft horses that used to carry armored knights or pull big plows. And in the dog world, too, we see those extremes.

So I would think that part of your paper might be to explore how through the centuries we have experimented with this. The Chinese particularly were very into the miniaturization of dogs, as well as breeding for extreme type. More of a royalty-bent, meaning to have dogs who set themselves apart from those owned by commoners. At the same time, we developed dogs for extremes that had functionality. A review of the extremes of dogs, what inspired them and so on vs the extremes we see today with the same questions asked, could be a thing.

In terms of the "show world"....it is hard to define what that is, in a paper sense. Initially, this was a rich man's "sport." This was particularly true in England, where estate lords as a passionate hobby would try to develop impressive lines of dogs. Several breeds were founded this way. There also was a deal of importation of foreign breeds who fell into favor with English royalty, and whose progress and solvency was based on that fact. The Afghan made a false start in England...didn't really catch on with the Royals...but here Zeppo Marx, of Hollywood fame, imported a pair and was able to launch them as a breed on foreign soil to some acclaim.

It is a misnomer that the show world existed to "preserve function." Things shifted in many cases where breeds were becoming obsolete, but the love for the dog, the passion for the breeding of the dog, and some touchstone to remarkable dogs of the past, for the cultures who had them, became a passion....a way for us to continue our breeding pursuits and involve ourselves with dogs who struck our fancy.

The show world as it stands now is different than it stood then. If you are to search the archives, some of the breeds accused of being bred to extremes haven't shifted incredibly, whereas others have. THIS is a print of a Bulldog used in an advert in the 1920's, so as you can see this extreme was already being embraced a century ago.

Personally....and again, opinion here...I think a paper could focus on our tendencies to breed for extremes, in and amongst that how it exists in the show world today, and how it is coming at odds with an increasing humane sensibility. I wouldn't call it show world thing per se. It can be specific to the show world, but oftentimes it is not. THIS ARTICLE, which ran in NY Times Magazine of all places, I think does a really good job at looking at the Bulldog in his total, not just as a show world freak but as a dog the public has been very drawn to for well over a century, for the reasons well specified in the article.

Other breeds, the GSD for example, particularly in his more freakishly extreme phase, was definitely a "show ring only" type deal, where average citizens would view the dog as looking deformed. Contrasted to the Bulldog or Pekingese, who the public find darling. So it really will vary, from where the show world goes wrong to where we as people are very drawn to certain traits, this starting now to compete with a swelling humane sensibility. That's a lot like the crop/dock banning. Cropping was banned in some key countries a century ago. Docking was not. Cropping was considered cruel, docking less so. Lots less goes wrong typically with docking, and the puppies are extremely young in comparison, so for a very long time it fell under more a "no harm, no foul" categorization. Now that we have evolved more, docking has become more of an issue in some countries, is outlawed in some countries who a century ago got cropping banned, but needed to wait for an increased humane climate for the docking to become a challengeable issue.

Don't know if that's helpful, but at least it's a start. This would be an issue separate and apart from, say, the health disasters seen in the Cav, which ultimately is probably more of an outcross issue. AKC recognition was long resisted. There was great concern, as the breed was not healthy. It didn't have to do with the fancy show world, but breed hobbyists who knew they had a big problem. At that time, puppies could not be registered (with the breed club) if the parents were less than two year olds and no litters from non-heart tested parents were registerable either. The Cav, here in this country (America), was a fairly rare breed then. So his problems were not caused by the show world, but rather have been sustained by it. His problems, when you get right down to it, stem from an affluent man who liked dogs in paintings and wanted a breed that resembled it developed in a jiffy. That is again people pursuing things to strike their fancy from an aesthetic sense.

Edited by author Mon Apr 9, '12 9:57pm PST


Member Since
Barked: Mon Apr 9, '12 11:09pm PST 
Yeah if others were curious, I want to focus more on it from a genetic point of view, and how breeds have changed over time.

Wow, thanks for the information Tiller! I do have a much more defined purpose of my paper and would like to thank you for that. You have definitely been helpful. By the way you were referring to the munchkin cat. laugh out loud

I like how you mentioned function with the draft horses. Also with how royalty tried setting their pets apart through exaggerated features. I think it would be interesting to look into statistics of how many people actually use their dogs for their "intended purpose", compared to how many keep them as pets and how this has affected breeds genetically as well. Companion breeds included - they seem to have more exaggerated features than most. Though does that widen the topic too much? I find all of this so interesting! laugh out loud

Hmm, do you think aesthetics and instinct(mentality?) could be combined in the same paper? Because just as breeds like pugs got more and more exaggerated features, people have breed for Dobes with a softer temperament, Shepherds who are more appropriate as pets then herding, etc.?


The Boy Wonder
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 1:34am PST 
This is something that you see very strongly in Border collies, the losing the ability to work is something working people are very concerned about with the breed.

And it happens. The ability to herd sheep in a 'border collie' manner (which is very distinct across the dog world) is something that has to be bred for, it's a complex picture that not everyone get's right, and as soon as breeders stray to looking at this head type over that head type, or this ear set preferred over that ear set and you cut out a very important part of your genetic pool.

There are a lot of behavior sets that define Border collie, which as a 'breed' is something most shepherds define as a dog that 'works' this way. Even among that grouping there are going to be different traits in different dogs, sometimes even in the same litter, and some traits will work better depending on what kind of stock you are working, the landscape you are working on, space. It all get's very complicated very fast.

The Show world breeds for a Look, this is the breed standard, which is basically a blueprint on how they want the dog to look. With a working breed looks are only important so much as they effect the dogs ability to move efficiently and do their job. Show also offers very limited chance for showing Temperament... this can be shown in a number of breeds who were defined extreme temperaments in the working world. Where those very temperaments that the breeds were known for become a difficulty, a inconvenience, or downright a liability in a show ring, or in a pet home. For this reason a lot of those breeds Have mellowed over the years (not all) to make them more acceptable for public fancy and to fit what the public wants. All of this doesn't even touch on the extremes in conformation some breeds have developed, which Tiller already pointed out. I welcome you to read the actual breed standard on the american cocker spaniel's coat. I use them as an example because it is Easy for someone without experience to actually see the difference in how the standard is written and how the dogs have drifted.

Sorry I get a bit ramblely at times when there's a subject close to my heart.


Edit, if you'd like to PM me I have an article that relates to border collies that might help out a little in your study if you do go with why show affects working ability in any breed.

Edited by author Tue Apr 10, '12 1:42am PST

Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 2:00am PST 
I'm not sure what type of paper you are doing so these may or may not be helpful to you, but I did a review paper on morphological and behavioral changes in domestic dogs for a class last year, below are some of the references I found on the topic. Some of these are more about behavior though as my paper was about both.

You also might find this link interesting, it shows historical photos of various breeds: http://www.messybeast.com/history/history.htm

The paper "Molecular origins of rapid and continuous morphological evolution" has some interesting information on changes in skull structure of some breeds over time, and associated genetic factors (mostly involving tandem repeats). If you want more references for this I also did a paper on tandem repeats and canine skull morphology for another class a few years ago and I can search up the references I found then if you're interested. I know that same paper was on that list too.

Akey JM, Ruhe AL, Akey DT, Wong AK, Connelly CF, Madeoy J, Nicholas TJ, Neff MW (2010) Tracking footprints of artificial selection in the dog genome. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:1160-1165.

Case, L (2008) Perspectives on domestication: the history of our relationship with man's best friend. J Anim Sci. Nov;86(11):3245-51.

Cruz F, Vilà C, Webster MT (2008) The legacy of domestication:accumulation of deleterious mutations in the dog genome. Mol Biol Evol 2008;25:2331–6.

Drake AG, Klingenberg CP (2008) The pace of morphological change: historical transformation of skull shape in St Bernard dogs. Proc Biol Sci. 275(1630): 71-6.

Fondon JW, Garner HR (2004) Molecular origins of rapid and continuous morphological evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 101(52): 18058–18063.

Fondon JW, Garner HR (2007) Detection of length-dependent effects of tandem repeat alleles by 3-D geometric decomposition of craniofacial variation. Dev Genes Evol. 217(1): 79-85.

Gácsi M, Gyoöri B, Virányi Z, Kubinyi E,Range F, Belényi B, Miklósi Á (2009)
Explaining dog-wolf differences in utilizing human pointing gestures: selection
for synergistic shifts in the development of some social skills. PloS ONE. 4: e6584.

Haworth KE, Islam I, Breen Putt MW, Makrinou Binns EM, Hopkinson D, Edwards Y (2001) Canine TCOF1; cloning, chromosome assignment and genetic analysis in dogs with different head types. Mamm Genome. 12(8): 622-629.

Haworth KE, Healy C, McGonnell IM, Binns M, Sharpe PT (2007) Characterisation of the genomic canine Fgf8 locus and screen for genetic variants in 4 dogs with different face types. DNA Seq. 18(3): 209-219.

Honeycutt RL (2010) Unraveling the mysteries of dog evolution. BMC Biol. Mar 9;8:20.

Savolainen P, Zhang Y, Luo J, Lundeberg J, and Leitner T (2002) Genetic Evidence for an East Asian Origin of Domestic Dogs. Science 298:1610–1613.

Sears KE, Goswami A, Flynn BJ, Niswandera LA, (2007) The correlated evolution of Runx2 tandem repeats, transcriptional activity, and facial length in Carnivora. Evol Dev. 9(6): 555-565.

vonHoldt BMJ, Pollinger P, Lohmueller KE, Han EJ, Parker HG, Quignon P, Degenhardt JD, Boyko AR, Earl DA, Auton A, Reynolds A, Bryc K, Brisbin A, Knowles JC, Mosher DS, Spady TC, Elkahloun A, Geffen E, Pilot M, Jedrzejewski W, Greco C, Randi E, Bannasch D, Wilton A, Shearman J, Musiani M, Cargill M, ones PG, Qian ZW, Huang W, Ding ZL, Zhang YP, Bustamante CD, Ostrander EA, Novembre J, Wayne RK (2010) Genome-wide SNP and haplotype analyses reveal a rich history underlying dog domestication. Nature 464:898-U109.

Edited by author Tue Apr 10, '12 2:04am PST


I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 8:54am PST 
Interesting research, narrowing down a topic is always tough. The info out there on this could be use to write more than one book.

I like the photos in the front page of this site that shows how GSDs have changed over time in a quick visual summary: (I'm not sure how much of the rest of the content is valid, I haven't read it all closely. The individual dogs do have links to pedigree databases)

http://www.angesgardiens.ca/ANG/Bundessieger%20list.ht m

I'm familiar with the conflict surrounding the interbreeding of (and lack thereof) NGA greyhounds and AKC greyhounds, having worked for two high-end kennels on a pro track and handled dogs for breeders of pro racing dogs (not AKC dogs ofcourse). To me, they are the epitome of 'working dogs', their whole lives are built around work, they are discarded when they cannot work, and the money they earn directly benefits thousands of people in several countries. I can't think of any segment that profits more off the backs of dogs. It may not help your topic, though, because the show ring doesn't help/hurt racing because it's so separate. They almost look like two separate breeds to me. NGA dogs are used by conformation (typically AKC) grey breeders to improve the physical performance of their lines, it varies depending on how important continued AKC registration is to them, how driven they are to place in lure coursing events.

"While the National Greyhound Association registers tens of thousands of Greyhounds each year, the AKC registers fewer than 200. Most of those are bred by breeders who participate in dog shows. Many show breeders select their dogs for breeding primarily using aesthetic criteria, but some of the show people also course their dogs at lure coursing or open field events. Dog shows tend to promote physical extremes, so some of us feel it's good to test the dogs on a regular basis to be sure that you're breeding dogs who can still function well." Written by a NGA breeder, S. Pober.

Interesting letters written by other breeders to the AKC regarding recognition (allowing the possiblity of interbreeding between the registries and still having a recognized dog) available at: http://www.raingoddess.com/akc/akc.html

"The track dog is a pure bred greyhound with as much pure blood as the show born greyhounds. Furthermore, in a breed with as small a gene pool as has the greyhound, it is pure foolhardiness to preclude the possibility of being able to acquire a degree of hybrid vigor from an outcross to another bank of genes. In addition if there was to be discovered some serious genetic ailment in our show dogs it would be far more difficult to control with just this tiny gene pool that exists in the show community of greyhounds. I have read that The Kennel Club in England has recently added additional classes in their championship shows for track greyhounds and for coursing greyhounds. It seems that they certainly consider the performance greyhounds as true greyhounds." from Patricia Ide, AKC breeder BIS, Group and Specialty winners.

Food for thought, anyway. big grin Good luck with your paper!

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 8:58am PST 
Forgot to add: close any spaces that dogster puts in URL site addresses.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 9:16am PST 
Another really interesting example is the Chinese Shar-Pei. You sound young, Guest, so you may not even know this, but they were essentially unknown here until the late 70's/early 80's. Someone took a picture of a wrinkly puppy, ran a story of how this was a very rare breed dying off. This was in Time or Newsweek....some national magazine. It lit a HUGE fire. Everyone and their uncle wanted that wrinkly puppy!!! As in now, now, NOW! The breed went from being very obscure to unfathomably popular in less than ten years. And it was a huge mess it took those dog fancy people who wanted to devote their lives to the breed many years to recover from. It would actually be an EXCELLENT....perhaps the ultimate....example of how something like can snowball and greatly affect a breed.

This just underscores where a part of this is just about people. Particularly so in America, but far from limited to, but people are drawn to extremes. That which sets something apart. So with some breeds, it truly is about the show world getting lost in their bubble, but part of it for other breeds is simply what we do as people, what we are drawn to.

The BC is a striking example in that at its root was a resistance to pursue any sort of standardization. And as well, not only one of the working functions where you are breeding for something more exact in terms of raw ability to do their jobs but also, and I am sure Happy would agree, the subject of vigor. There are some working functions that don't require an exceptional vigor, but farm dog work ain't one of them wink And vigor is something very much where you have to get out there, work the dog hard for an extended term, just to see if he has the stuff.

The splits between working-show will always be defined by breed. Happy mentioned Am Cockers, which are essentially the show-based Americanized version of the English Cocker. Truth is, American Cocker show dogs can and do hunt. It's a lot easier to sustain hunting ability vs herding ability, and the majority of Am Cockers who hunt are indeed from showlines. Ironically, hunters here oft prefer the Am to the English for he is a more umphy dog generally, traits that were created for the show ring, where he also excels, but for all that showiness turns him more sauce-y out in the field as well. Dogster Nick, who alas wandered off but was one of the true few hunters on Dogster, had a yen to go on a hunt with a Cocker team, but with the Am, for what he had been hearing. I put up an article recently about the showline prevalence in the field for the Am....not from a breed club, but in an actual gun magazine, so no bias there. Very few field breeders to be found for this breed, as smaller hunting spaniels have a smaller niche in the sporting world so very few breed for the field. If they did, you'd find more prospects out of any given breeding for hunt for the litter being focus bred, but for now if you want a hunting Cocker, odds are he will carry show lineage and do just fine.

That's where I get irked. Showline Cockers not hunting is an urban myth. If for no other reason than the rather obvious one that there aren't many field breds available. Plenty of showbred dogs can work in the field. It is not difficult to sustain traits that make a dog happy to be out in the field, doing a good job if properly brought along. It's a very different scenario to a BC, where you are talking about a far more intricate balance, that and the subject of vigor. Many show bred dogs can work in the field, of many breeds. The Great Pyrenees is another good example...many show bred dogs crossing over to be able flock guards. But as long as breed character has been maintained, the job generally can be done. This in contrast to the BC, where you really need to be breeding proven individuals to come up with dogs who can do the work well.

An interesting thing....I can debate with Happy smile....in that I am sort of midline in the BC issue. When I was a kid, the BC was fairly commonly known as a farm dog. Not for the city, not for the inexperienced owner....if you did much research, you'd find that out, and it was fairly commonly known. Back then, competitive OB was just getting its feet going. There was no agility at all yet, no flyball, etc. Now, of course, there is....like a LOT wink And people naturally are drawn to the BC, who excels at all of these challenges. I think that for the novice coming in, wanting to compete and do well, seeing all the BCs, they are naturally drawn to the breed. So now, unlike then, there is a strong demand for "working BCs" of another ilk, something for which farm bred dogs are not necessarily appropriate and may quickly qualify as "too much dog" for the average weekend warrior suburbanite. Some show kennels have BCs titled up the wazoo in OB, agility, etc. Dogs more reasonably handled by these people, more able to settle into a more pedestrian life in their off hours. I'd far prefer someone with weekend aspirations to get on a dog such as that, vs a "work thirsty" farm bred dog.

It is just a part of the debate that I think gets ignored. You have show, you have work, and now the whole midline of sport, which tends to draw in novices, sometimes in large numbers, and whose need for a dog might be best served by the dual titled dog, vs the true worker.

Although I will say, Guest, yet another subject laugh out loud The subject for the paper could be extremes, or it could be working function. If you want a list of breeds to focus on for either, I could give you a list of which ones and why.
Harley (past- foster dog)

Did someone say- 'walk'??
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 12:48pm PST 
Yes the Shar-Pei is an interesting example since their numbers were dwindling when some breeders discovered them and decided to try to bring them back. So the US population increased from a small number of dogs. IIRC they also may have added some dogs of other breeds or unregistered Shar-Pei when trying to bring the breed back. I have an old book that talks a lot about this process but I haven't looked at it in years so I don't remember all the details.
The Shar-Pei is another breed where there are different "types". The dog you see in the show ring now looks different from the dogs they saved in the 70s, and there are some people who breed for the "old type" or "old style" look, which is less extreme as far as wrinkles and "hippo" face.
I got interested in this after I found Harley, who did not look like the typical Pei you see, he was more like the "old type" dogs.

The Boy Wonder
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 8:17pm PST 
Tiller First I'll note my problem with American cockers has nothing to do with the well bred one's temperament or ability to work, just the interpretation of Coat which as gotten a bit excessive.

Now back to what I can debate firmly on. There are people in the border collie who say it's work vs show.. but really that doesn't get to the meat of the issue. The same dog that can go out on the trial field and win is often not an ideal dog for a farm situation, a farm stock dog is a completely different dog and one . Then you get into obedience and agility/flyball lines which are 'working' but are generally dogs that aren't going to work livestock but are still structurally sound as far as movement is concerned. The show lines are a different dog all together but as a general rule are softer in temperament than any of the other lines. Sport has affected a lot of breeds actually, border collies are just the breed I can talk about the best...

Another breed is the Jack Russel's which breed fans are just as hot over...
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