If you have ever watched a dog show, you’ve got to admit how amazed you were when you saw how beautifully each dog was presented and how well groomed they seemed. Now when you look at your slightly-shabby-but-smiling Golden Retriever, you may start imagining how to show a Golden Retriever at a dog show and not embarrass yourself.
Of course, that is the single biggest mistake pet parents make while entering their dog into a dog show for the first time. First, you need to understand exactly what the panel of judges expects to see. Every dog show has a basic short-listing criteria to counter the fact that each majestic creature is unique from the one standing beside them.
Learn How to Show a Golden Retriever at a Dog Show
Golden Retrievers have always made for handsome pets, however, if you were to give your pup a makeover, you should do so in terms of the standard blueprint of Golden Retrievers. This blueprint, basically, signifies the best qualities of the breed as is specified by the American Kennel Club and the Golden Retriever Club of America.
In addition, every Golden Retriever show dog should be trained to stand/sit still and groomed for the judge’s examination. Also, pet parents should train their pups to move around a ring while judges have a closer look at their topline and gait, which in turn illustrates their fitness and body structure.
According to the breed standard, since Golden Retrievers are essentially a hunting dog, they should be in optimal condition in terms of fitness. Don’t let the words ‘show dog’ and field-bred’ confuse you because these two categories of Golden Retrievers have more similarities than differences.
The main difference between the two include:
Field Golden Retrievers
They are bred to hunt and retrieve gunned-down fowl all-day. When they’re bred for this kind of drive and personality, their breeders have a very different goal for how they turn out.
Show Golden Retrievers
As for Show Golden Retrievers, they are bred to conform to a specific personality and look. In other words, they are bred to fulfill the requirements of conformation events and what dog show judges expect from them. They are what you may call, the ‘ideal Golden Retriever specimen’.
Specifics From Head to Tail
Typically, a Golden Retriever’s head should have a broad skull, that conforms to an optimal stopping-angle (so that the muzzle is parallel with the head). Other than this, the friendlier and more intelligent-looking your Retriever’s eyes are, the better their chances are at being acknowledged accordingly.
Additionally, judges also inspect Golden Retrievers to see whether their ears are short and whether their ears cover their eyes when pulled forward. They check to see whether your Retriever’s nose is black or dark brown and whether their teeth chomp-down into a perfect scissor bite.
Finally, a Golden Retriever’s tail should be muscular and thick at the bottom while it slightly tapers towards the tip. According to the breed standard, a Golden Retriever’s tail should be moderately curved upwards.
Movement and Body
An ideal male Goldie is about 23 to 24 inches tall, however, the females are a bit shorter. Following a similar pattern, the male weighs anywhere between 65 and 75 pounds whereas females tend to weigh under 65 pounds.
In terms of movement, Golden Retrievers should seem powerful and should have a strong reach. Also, their legs shouldn’t be seen turning in or out from any angle, whether they are standing still or moving.
If you’re wondering how to show a Golden Retriever despite all of these specifics, we’d recommend letting them walk at their natural pace and with a loose lead. You can train your Goldie to walk at a good speed, however, only a professional handler can teach you exactly how to get that walk right (in terms of dog show judges, that is).
Temperament and Attitude
A Golden Retriever’s coat is its USP and show dogs should typically have a healthy and thick coat of fur. Oftentimes, their fur is also quite water repellent since the overcoat is thick, wavy and straight instead of being silky and coarse. Also, it is preferable for show dogs to have short and even hair on their front legs, paws and on the top of their head.
One particular thought that worries Golden Retriever owners is what shade of gold should their pup be. Well, as it turns out, any rich tone of gold, whether very dark or very light (or anything in between), is desirable but white markings on their fur may be considered undesirable.
How to Get Started in Showing
Now that you’ve learned how to show a Golden Retriever at a dog show, you need to first register your pup with the American Kennel Club. Without registering your dog in one of the largest dog registries in the US, you cannot take part in any legitimate dog show.
Just in case you were wondering, the 2nd largest registry in the US is the United Kennel Club. However, this registry focuses more on working dogs, which of course, aren’t exclusively listed in AKC.
Remember, that these kennel clubs will not register neutered or spayed dogs. Of course, you can always also take part in non-registry shows since they welcome mixed breed and fixed dogs.
Our Final Thoughts
Even though Golden Retrievers are known as the 4th most intelligent dog breed in the world, it doesn’t mean they don’t need a haircut. Make sure your show dog is groomed to the nines and most of what you can easily follow from their breed’s blueprint should be practiced immediately.
Oh and don’t forget to treat those gentle giants with treats every time they fulfill their task!