Archived Message
Life of a Show dog?

by Marilyn

I would like to know what the day is like in the life if a show dog. I have heard such terrible stories how the little creatures are kept in cages all day. Never allowed to be outdoors, wrapped in papers so their coat stays long and silky and basically not loved and cared for like us "lay people" do. Is this true? Are they for the show ring and nothing more? Please set the record straight, Thank you.


When I got my 2 Maltese I considered showing them,they both have Champion blood lines,but after watching them run in the yard, rolling in the grass and just doing all the silly things that puppies do I decided that I wanted them to have the "freedom" they deserve(no offense to anyone). I keep their hair cut short and for the last 4 years I have spoiled them rotten!!! But I have also heard similar horror stories.
-Karen Kalamaras

I would say that Maltese show dogs get more attention than the average pet Maltese. They are groomed everyday, hours spent with them, as well as the socializing that is involved so that they have the right attitude to be shown. Ours were only kept in crates going to and from the show. Once they are done out for the ring, they sit on the table and get loved on and sweet talked to. As well, show people are kept very up to date on the best nutritional foods to feed their dogs. As far as going outdoors, I think it depends on the part of the country you live in certainly in The western and southern states, it gets too hot to leave our little people outdoors too long, fear of sunburn and heat exhaustion. Once the dog is finished (shown to their championship) most breeders cut the hair short and let the dog become a house dog, ususally by this time they are so spoiled from being with the handler that they require a lot of attention, which they get. I think it is a myth that show dogs are not cared for as well as pets.

I must DITTO everything Catherine said about how much time we spend with our Show Dogs and how much concern we have that they all get the VERY BEST of everything - a premium healthy and nutritious dog food, vitamins or dietary supplements if necessary, a maximum amount of sunlight, fresh air and exercise, and the very best veterinary care. They must be socialized as puppies and, as they mature, taught to accept strangers, travel, and unfamiliar situations, places, and loud noisy buildings full of a thousand other dogs - unlike most "pets". They get a combination grooming (especially in our Breed) and training session at least once a day which lasts forty-five minutes or more. This is "one-on-one quality time". A show dog IS, and must be, in TOP physical shape as well as "beautiful" - movement in the show ring is often more important than pure cosmetic appeal - and a dog with a lack of muscle tone WILL NOT compete successfully. Exercise and sunshine and fresh air ARE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to the overall health (physical as well as emotional) of a dog and show dogs generally stay on a training regimen that maximizes their overall health and quality of life - a show dog must be HAPPY in that show ring, too, and it is very apparent when they are NOT. It is too easy to try to place everyone in the world in nice neat little "generalization capsules" so that, as a group, THIS BUNCH of people can be easily compared or contrasted to THAT BUNCH of people. The real truth is, ALL people, like our dogs, are individuals. There are "GOOD" show people and there are "BAD" show people - there are "GOOD" pet people and BAD pet people. In my neighborhood, as I walk my dogs on the sidewalk, I see the same people out there walking their dogs in the evening after work. I also pass yards with dogs in them that probably never have an interraction with their owner short of a once-a-day feeding time or to get chastized for digging a new hole under the fence in search of a playmate. The pup was purchased for a gift for the child who outgrew it and the parents just "keep it alive". This is every bit as much a generalization as the one I am answering about "show people" and the quality of life of their dogs, but "if the shoe fits, wear it". I'm proud of the shoes I wear as a Maltese Breeder and Exhibitor. We love our dogs and they love us in return. The life of a show dog is entirely dependent on their owners philosophies and commitment - just like a pet',s. Sorry this turned into a book.
-Larry Stanberry Divine Maltese

Catherine,Thanks for the info! It's nice to know that these pups get lots of love and attention. As I mentioned, my 2 are not "Show Dogs" but they are spoiled rotten!!! They have 3 sweaters each, they have little yellow slickers for rainy days, and the most outrageous looking ski jackets for really cold days.
-Karen Kalamaras

Larry, I know your dogs are getting the best of everything. Does the quality time you spent grooming, etc. also include kisses, hugs, playing on the floor with you, sleeping in your bed, taking them on errands with you, visiting friends and taking them, going to the beach, walks in the woods,(you carrying of course), picnics and all the other wonderful things life has to offer? My maltese hates the "quality" time I spend grooming her, She'd rather I play with her all day, which I just about do!

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