Beauty contest, what is it?

Many ask me questions about the “Beauty Contests”. Me, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not the sport that I prefer because yes, it’s sport. My 3 dogs are Canadian champions. Chantal Leclerc participated actively in their championships. I let her explain what it is.


Conformation competitions commonly called beauty shows are much more complex than it seems to be.

First of all each dog has a standard related to his breed that has been written since the construction of his breed in accordance with the work he was doing.

The breeder must know his breed standard by heart and reproduce so that his dogs have the qualities as close as possible to the standard of his breed. He will choose a puppy that considers the most beautiful specimen in its range.

Subsequently, he must train his puppies from 8 weeks to take the position that will benefit his qualities and hide his defects when he is in front of the judge.
Obviously there are no perfect dogs but just like a model, he will be able to position his dog to put him to his advantage.

For a beginner in the competition he will have to learn the standard of his dog, know the defects and qualities of his dog and learn how to position him, make him walk at the right pace, etc ..
So when you enter a competition ring, you have to think about holding the leash properly in your hand and positioning it in the dog’s neck at the right height depending on the breed of your dog.

For some breeds, the dog must wear different collars and leashes.
Then the judge will ask us to do a complete circle in the ring. It seems easy, but you have to run or walk at the same pace as our dog depending on the breed but also on the structure of our dog. If our dog has a lot of forward and backward angulation we have to make a big step or run with great strides in order to be able to follow our dog and work perfectly together. It takes several hours of practice to reach a perfect agreement between the master and his dog.

Then, the judge will ask us to place our dog, on the ground for medium and large breeds and on a table for small breeds. The dog must be well positioned according to its standard. The judge will examine it, that is to say, it will look if the dog has all his teeth, if his head conforms to the standard, if his back is straight, if there is angulation front and back , if the tail is positioned in the extension of his back, if there are testicles for a male always according to his standard. Obvious the dog must let himself be touched without moving from his position. And the work of the handler and keep the dog’s attention so that he stays in position and worked the position of his head in order to decrease the structural defects. In short, it’s an art.

Then he will ask us to go back and forth in front of him so that he can observe if your dog is well lined front and back paw and we will stop in front of him to demonstrate the attitude (temperament) of our dog. Then we will finish by making a final round of the ring to see the movement of the dog aside and also its structure.

The judge either takes into consideration the work that the dog is supposed to do to judge it well. For example, a border collie is a herding dog, he must be able to run or rather trot his head forward to almost height than his back. If the dog gallops it is that it is badly balanced and structured or if it is held head 45 degrees with his back he does not conform to the standard of his race and will not be able to do his work for a long time because its structural problem because it will cause long-term health problems. So this dog will probably not be considered by a judge. Same thing for a shit-tzu that was originally pet dogs that warmed the feet of their masters so if the dog is afraid of the judge, it is not consistent with his race. He must have a happy temperament and loved people. So the judges have to take into consideration the structure but also the temperament that is why they were built.
The competition of conformation is not a pleasure for a dog but your dog does it to please his master. It is therefore very important to play with your dog so that he likes to parade in the ring. So we always have to work with something positive and to make it enjoyable we work with toys or rewards that dogs love but do not eat often so that they are happy and enjoy their work.

It is very important to practice the dog in the routine of a competition in a ring so that it is as comfortable as possible to be touched, to look and to walk near other dogs around him.

The handling work is very difficult. It takes coordination, good communication with your dog, being fit and being able to sell your dog by his attitude in the ring.

It is important that the handler respects a dress decorum. The more the professional looks, the more he will be able to sell himself. He must make an image with his dog. So if the dog is dark he will dress in light color to bring out the qualities of his dog but if he wants to hide some defects he could dress in dark and defect of the dog will appear less.

All is decided so that our dog can win the competition and become Canadian champion or the best in Canada.

And let’s not forget all the preparation for the competition, which is very long for some breeds more than others. I am talking about grooming. The dogs must be at their finest in the competition so they are washed every week and often for some breeds such as poodles among others every day of the weekend competitions. We begin to groom them very young so that they do not hate it and get tired manipulate more easily. For some breeds, grooming may take a few hours before each competition. And breeders / handlers spend fortunes to have the best shampoo or the one that makes the hair grow, the anti-static product, net spray, etc ……

People often ask us the question: Why do you do all this? It’s really a passion. The pleasure and pride of seeing our dog win and become a champion and even in the top 5 in Canada. We do not win any money but the prestige to say that I reproduce very beautiful dog with a temperament and a structure according to his breed. Farmers work to have the best offspring and everyone can enjoy it.

Chantal Leclerc
Handler, breeder, groomer and comportment specialist.

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