The dog show world is, an activity seen as a canine get together. Future dog owners go to see what breed they may be interested in living with. Breeders go to see what dogs they may want (to select from) to breed to in order to improve their lines. Some attend for pure competition, the desire of being number one. But what is a dog show? Is it just an event or does it have some practical merit?

In brief a dog show is an external Anatomy, locomotion, temperament and health study. The details of this type of hands on interaction is complicated and often misinterpreted. Often times the dogs that are flashy, tend to win. (That is the sport side).

The question comes to mind what are we to be looking at when we are judging a dog?

If we had x-ray vision we would be looking at things like The Skull (Incisive, Nasal, Maxilla, Lacrimal, Palatine, Fromtal, Zygomatic, Basisphenoid wing, Parietal, Temporal, Occipital, Tympanohyoid, cartilage, Stylohyoid and Mandible).

When viewing and speaking of the Skull (Head), to state what is proper one has to look at what the dog was bred for? What is its function? This will determine the correct shape.

When one runs their hand down a dog neck to what is referred to as the top line. They are examining the Axis at the base of the skull. The Caudal vertebra makes up the dogs neck. The vertebra that makes up the top line gives support and allows flexibility and movement. It
starts with the Spinous process of the 7th cervical vertebra (Withers).

Often if a dog has problems in their movement the problem can be found in the (Top Line). These bones are Spinous process of thoracic vertebrae, transverse process of lumbar vertebra.

When you are looking at the depth of chest, it is a presentation of the Manubrim of sternum and Sternevrae #2 and #3 along with the Xiphoid cartilage of the sternum.

Over the front of the Sternum one will find the Scapula, which is the front support of the limb or leg. The part of the leg, which is called the upper, is actually the Humerus. It is connected to the Ulna and Radius, the lower leg. These bones are attached to Metacarpal and the Phalanges, which make up the paws.

As one goes down the spine to the rear, known as the (hipbones), called the pelvis. The Femur joins the pelvis and is supported by the Tibia & Fibula making up the rear angulations. The dual bone found in the front and rear allows for rotation and mobility. The Tibia and
Fibula are attached to the Tarsal bones and Metatarsus. The Metatarsophaalangeal make up the rear paws.

What does the professional handler do at a dog show? Day in and day out thousand of people bring puppies and dogs in to their households. Their needs are a happy, healthy, and well-behaved addition to the family.

The breeder comes about their existence in general two ways. Those who breed towards with a goal, or owners who breed for an experience. In this article we will concentrate
on those who are breeding with a goal. This type of breeder takes a look at their breed’s standard, makes an interpretation and sets out to reproduce their interpretation of that standard.

The question now becomes where does the breeder go to have their interpretation evaluated. Where does the breeder go to find the dog or bitch that will need to improve
their program? The breeder attends the dog shows. The breeder hires a professional handler to present their dog to the judge. The judging process does not make a dog or breeder better. It is just an evaluation of how the dog meets the standard. Or which dog is presented best at the show. The selection process is the work that makes the breed better.

The judge examines the dogs over all structure and makes an evaluation. The evaluation process seems, by many, to be very objective and brief. But a well-trained eye at a glance can determine a great deal. It can be determined poor structure and often temperament problems. The key is when one is attending a show to remember their goal and not becoming blind to your own breeding stock.

Judges, breeder and owners must take the anatomy from above, and give the dogs a true evaluation. We have taken our first evaluation look at the dog show world from the basic anatomy standpoint.

The Judges evaluation system is done hands on and visually. The ring is just a research and development ground for our future dogs. When we look at the many parts that make up our dogs, we need to understand that a break down in any one of the many anatomy parts causes a chain reaction.

An example a dog with a short nasal cartilage may be found to have a under bite, due to a pure nasal configuration. Or the dog may have future Mandible or teeth problems. A dog with a poorly set Scapula may have to paw out or in to provide it self with support. A dog seeming to have a short upper arm or Humerus. This dog may have poor or little reach while moving. The dog may also be seen to have problems with its top line. The Thoracic can tell a judge a vast amount of information.

From front leg problems to rear movement problems. A short Femur may cause a dog to appear to have little to no rear angulations. Poor rear angulation may be a contributor to some hip and socket injuries.

This is just a short list of problem caused by poor anatomy. The importance is when selecting one dog. One wants them healthy and around for a long period of time. Dogs with anatomy problems have a high mortality rate. It is the importance of good breeding and positive selection.

Daryl Cooper