But I Don’t Need a Show Dog!

Silky not from a show breeder

by Terri Lewin Gilbert

Why do people recommend choosing a breeder who shows and titles their dogs to folks who are just looking for a pet and have no interest in showing? Why should breeding to Breed Standard be important to a pet home? Does it seem excessive, or “snobby”?

It’s not, and here’s why.

Dog shows are a means of evaluating dogs against the breed standard, to evaluate soundness, movement/gait, type, and temperament.

Soundness: The state of physical and mental health when all organs and faculties are functioning properly, each in its rightful relation to each other.

Type: Breed type encompasses appearance, character, condition, bone structure, temperament, and movement; "breed type is all these things." Breed type also includes a character specific to each breed, a combination of behavior, temperament, and carriage that demonstrate the essence of the breed.

Gait: The gait of a dog is its quality of movement. You want to see ease of movement, unimpaired by illness or poor structure.

Temperament: The general attitude a dog has towards other animals and people. From the Silky Terrier Breed Standard: “The keenly alert air of the terrier is characteristic, with shyness or excessive nervousness to be faulted. The manner is quick, friendly, responsive. ”

So. That’s a very basic intro to what goes on at a show... why does this matter? You want a pet, a companion, not a show dog, right? Well, you chose Silky Terriers for a reason. You’ve done your research, and have read that they’re good with kids, maybe not so great with other dogs, make good watchdogs and are excellent, cheerful companions that love spending time with their people. That they’re small sturdy and generally quite healthy. Good, responsible breeders seek to preserve those definitive and positive characteristics.

Here’s an example-- there are aggressive and shy Silky Terriers. An aggressive dog is no joke, even with a small dog. Aggression can run in lines. Wouldn’t it be difficult to show an aggressive, reactive, fearful, or excessively shy Silkys? Do you want to take the gamble and trust someone about their dog’s history, or would you rather buy from someone who has taken their dogs into the ring and had the dog’s temperament proven over and over, consistently?

What about type and structure? How the dog is put together, able to move freely and comfortably? Would you rather buy from someone who has proven publicly, over time, that the dogs they’re breeding can move well, free of structural problems? Or just trust someone who has no interest in proving their dogs? It’s your puppy’s quality of life and comfort (as well as your wallet) that’s at stake.

Not every dog in a well-bred litter is going to be show quality- there will ALWAYS be pet-quality puppies. Well-bred, but maybe with a slight imperfection, and those are the puppies placed in pet homes. You don’t have to want a show-quality puppy to get a well-bred puppy!

Here’s the bottom line.... every day, Silky Rescue is seeing more and more aggressive Silkys. Silkys in pain because they were poorly bred.  Silkys requiring extensive vet care, and expensive surgery. People have to remand their dogs to breed rescue because they can’t manage the dog, fear the dog, or find out the dog needs costly vet care they can’t afford.

This is not about being snobby, being elitist, or thinking that one dog is “better” than another, it’s about ensuring you get a puppy that acts and looks like the breed you fell in love with. It’s about ensuring that all Silky puppies have the best start in life, and will grow into a loving family member. It’s about loving our breed enough to want to see everything that’s good about them preserved for future generations to enjoy. If you want a healthy dog, with a properly cheerful, devil-may-care temperament, choose your breeder wisely.

(Note: the two dogs pictured in silhouette above... the one on the right came from a breeder who shows and titles her dogs. He’s sweet, healthy, and can move freely... he had a good start in life. He looks and acts like a Silky and will pass those qualities onto his offspring.)

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