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Too Many Shows, Not Enough Entries

Click here to read the complete article
74 – The Annual, 2019-20

By Wayne Cavanaugh

We hear the refrain often: “too many dog shows and too few entries.” It’s like the quote (incorrectly) attributed to Mark Twain: “everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” We lament about it, we complain about it, yet nothing changes. I don’t have the answer. I have a concept – an undercooked, ambitious concept – that will raise hopes or hackles depending on your point of view. My point is not to convince anyone of anything. It’s to start a conversation about actually doing something to address the current imbalance.

First, the concerns are accurate. As reported in the most recent AKC Annual Report, there were more AKC all-breed dog shows held in 2018 than in any other time in history – a total of 1,653 all-breed shows (not including national and independent specialties and group shows that also award points). Comparing the stats from the 1996 AKC Annual Report shows an increase of 36% over the past 22 years! Yes, I know you’ve heard that some clubs are folding and they are. But other clubs are holding even more shows than ever before. In fact, there were 437 more shows held in 2018 than there were twenty years ago.

The logical entry-per-show corollary is equally dramatic. The average entry is down 44% in the last 22 years. Today, there are an average of 773 entries per show compared to 1,389 in 1996!

There have been many changes to the sport in the past two decades but none as alarming as this incredibly tilted ratio. Compared to 1996, there are over one-third more shows with nearly half the entries. That is not sustainable over the long term. We need a major reset. Many handlers are on the road 250 or 300 days a year or more. Driving that many miles isn’t safe or healthy–nor is it fun–for the people or the dogs. It’s time to fix that before disasters happen.

Somehow, Best In Shows are Best in Shows, regardless if they are won at a show with 250 entries or 5,000 entries. The ranking systems for the magazines do their best to mash together data from small and big shows and try to make sense of it. Points for dogs defeated systems can mean that six small show BIS’s are the same as one big-show Best. Understandable, but there has to be a better way.

Blame is often laid on the steps of the magazine ranking systems for causing the races, but rankings aren’t going anywhere because the sport loves them. We need a better overall show system that, among many other things, will allow magazines to construct better ranking systems.

Consider this for a moment. When a dog won 25 Best In Shows at average size shows in 1996, that dog defeated a total of 34,725 dogs. Today, a dog with 25 Best In Shows would have defeated 19,325 – nearly half as many dogs! While comparing historical stats may not necessarily diminish the wins, it is a firm reminder that times have changed.

 Click here to read the complete article
74 – The Annual, 2019-20

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Posted by on Jan 1 2020. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • June 2020