As far as entries go the cost of entering a dog show varies from $12.00 to $ 15.00 for puppies (who generally are there for practice and with little expectations of winning) and from $ 17.00 to $ 22.00 for adults and other classes. A Top Professional Handler will charge you from $ 45.00 to $75.00 just to show your dog one day of a show and you'll often have to share in his expenses (hotels, gasoline, meals, etc.) with the owners of the other dogs he may show on a pro-rata basis. So, it can easily cost over $100.00 for you to have your dog shown at one show. A generally well-bred specimen in fairly good competition out with an experienced and competent handler will often take from 12 to 20 shows to obtain a Championship - marginal dogs can take 40 or 50 shows to finish, if at all. So at $1500 to $5000 per dog, how many would you think you could "finish" in a year ?
So, to answer your other questions, a Top Professional Handler can become "retained" by the Owner/Sponsor of a TOP WINNING DOG to handle it on an exclusive basis. Some retainers go as high as fifty thousand dollars a year and MORE. Most of the Handlers, however, carry a "string" of dogs and either work in pairs or hire assistants, so they can generate a good living. Many of us Owner-Handle our own dogs - as dog breeding/exhibition IS our hobby and the only way we afford all of this is to do as much as we can ourselves.
You didn't ask but it is NOT UNUSUAL for some of the People who Own/Sponsor the very TOP WINNING dogs to spend SEVERAL HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS EACH YEAR - between entry fees, handling fees and their handlers expenses (some handlers show in California on Friday and then hit the airport to fly and show in Texas somewhere the next day!!) the Advertising Budget (for a top dog is thousands of dollars every month) and even show photographs can cost $ 25.oo apeice.
The Sport of Purebred Dogs - at its highest level it runs just like
Big Business. Best to learn the game from someone you can trust -
learning by trial and error is Very Expensive.
Larry Stanberry - Divine Maltese
I agree with Larry. Every single one of your professional handlers have
been in dogs for a long time, the most successful have been raised in the
sport. They are well known for certain breeds, and tend to win more in
those breeds. For someone who is not familiar with dog shows who wants to be
a handler and make money, I would say that it is impossible to solely handle
as a living. I would suggest if it interests you to get involved as a
handler that you seek someone in your area that is a professional handler
and apply to be an assistant for this person. In my experience, unless you
have a love and passion for purebred dogs, you are not going to enjoy
handling. Very few handlers make it to the top winning status, having one
client foot the bill, paying for flying to five different shows, in five
different places in one week. Paying $2500 for the cover of a dog
advertising publication for one week. Most handlers, handle a "string" of
dogs as Larry said and this consists of showing up to 50 or 60 dogs in one day from 8 am to 5 pm. With help from family members and assistants. These professional handlers know how to groom dogs of every breed and beleive me, that is hard. They have
trained as assistants themselves, for many years before becoming
professional themselves. I don't know if you watched Westminster, but the
man who handled the Japanese Chin ( the dog that won the Toy group) he
assisted a professional handler for years and years before he became one
himself. He worked very, very hard but it has paid off. He has been
involved in purebred dogs since he was born, as his mother was involved for
years. I guess I'm just trying to explain that it is difficult to just
decide you want to professionally handle. I would encourage, that if you
have purchased a dog of show quality, that you talk to the breeder and get
their advice on showing your dog. Owner handlers do very well, and
everyone has to start somewhere. You'll know once you !
get started if you want to pursue it further, it takes extreme dedication
but it can be done!
My sister-in-law was the first female jockey in the state of Calif.
to win a horse race in that state, she had to go to court in 3
other states to get her jockey license because at that time they
did not give women jockies, but now she is one of the top quarter
horse jockeys and is currently head of the New Mexico Jockey
Guild. This didn't happen overnight, but the point is it did
happen. So, if you want it, go for it!