Why Isn’t Bred By Exhibitor Considered More Important

Why Isn’t Bred By Exhibitor Considered More Important

By: Pat Hastings  Date: 01/9/2012 Category: | Canine Issues |

I think the reason Naomi Fox (aka Naomi Foltz) and I had such a great time when our club hosted the 1996 National Specialty was because we meshed in our combined efforts like soul mates. The idea discussed in this article is one we both had. I have no idea who came up with it first. If it was you, Naomi, thanks.

f the purpose of a dog show is to highlight breeding stock, then why is the Bred-by-Exhibitor (BBE) class not given more important status in the lineup of winners?

I tried to get a computer printout from AKC of the percent of winners from each of the classes. Surprise, surprise - no dice. So I conducted my own informal survey. Of everyone I asked, the best guess was fairly consistent: Somewhere between 70-85 percent of all dogs and bitches receiving points are from the open classes. If everyone's best guess is accurate, that means that only 15-30 percent of winners are from the other six, classes (six-to-nine month puppy, nine-to-12 month puppy, 12-18 month, novice, American-bred, and Bred-by-Exhibitor) combined. Take into consideration that many puppies finish in the puppy classes - and we've seen plenty of winners from the American-bred classes - and you end up with very little left over for the lowly BBE class.

AKC keeps mouthing off about this problem, but I have yet to see any reasonable solution. It now offers a special award and medallion for dogs finished entirely in BBE. It also allows clubs to offer a Best Bred By Exhibitor in Show. Both of these awards are an improvement, but in the long run they do nothing to increase the quantity or quality of dogs shown in the BBE class nor do they increase a BBE winner's chances of taking the points.

I have been to many specialties and national where the breeders should have been ashamed of what they showed in BBE. Pickings have been so poor at times that I have seen ribbons withheld in the BBE class, even at national specialties. At the same time, I certainly understand the breeder's strategy. Why should we show our best dogs in the BBE class if it means our odds of winning are significantly decreased? Admittedly, a few breeders stick to their guns and show their best in BBE from start to finish. They are the exceptions, however. Most breeders show their best in the open classes and what's left over show in BBE. This holds true even at specialties.

The largest, best quality class at any specialty should be the BBE class. It almost never is, though. And who can blame the breeders? After all, it can be so frustrating to have your lovely BBE winner time after time ignored, especially when an inferior open class winner walks out of the ring with the win and points.

Sadly, too many judges simply go through the motions of judging dogs. With so many open class dogs taking the points, one is left with the impression that the last class in the ring has the best chance of catching the judge's eye. It happens more than any of us would like to admit. The majority of people in this world are followers instead of leaders, which may be a partial explanation, but it is little comfort or consolation to the breeders showing in the BBE class.

In truth, all of the special awards, all of the medallions, and all of the special classes will not solve the problem. However, the answer could be very simple. Maybe that's the problem - it's too simple. Just change the order of judging so that BBE is the last class to be judged. Then, when the dogs return for winners points, the BBE dog will be first in line. This changes nothing but order of appearance. It cannot make a poor-quality dog look great, but it might give a good-quality BBE dog a better chance at the points.

Presently there is no rule about the order in which dogs enter the winners' ring, but in more than 30 years of exhibiting at more than 2000 shows, I have watched the class winners brought into the ring in reverse catalog order at least 90 percent of the time.

Being at the head of the line could give the BBE class greater prestige. If the same judges who frequently point to the head of the line keep pointing in that direction, this change would improve the BBE winner's chances to take the points.

Of course, if the BBE class had more prestige, maybe more judges would look a little harder at these winners along with the open class winners. On the other hand, if changing the order in the show ring increases BBE wins, I'll bet real money that breeders will use the BBE class more often and that they will show their best quality stock therein. And isn't that what dog shows are supposed to be all about?

It is worth noting that the idea of changing the order of classes was recently proposed to the AKC board but was withdrawn because the majority of the board could see no benefits from such a change. And you? To BBE or not to BBE. Dare we try to effect a different outcome? How about a rule change, delegates?

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