TEMPERAMENT AND TRAINING FOR THE CONFORMATION RING
The Greyhound is not known as the “show-off” of the dog show world. Not that there aren’t some that just love to be the center of attention and shine in the limelight, but adult temperaments and personalities in this breed are more often than not on the reserved, composed side – sweet, stable, tolerant but not demonstrative, especially with strangers – and that means judges, too. Many Greyhounds also find showing a bit boring. There is nothing very stimulating for them in “posing” or trotting around in a circle. So, if your Greyhound does not have that “Poodle” attitude, be assured that that is quite all right. However, your Greyhound should still present itself well with a regal, quiet stance and gait with energy, power and lightness.
Training should start with the leash with the dog walking calmly on your left side without pulling, jumping up and down or dragging behind you. Eventually move on to gaiting the dog at a trot. Start leash training with a martingale type collar/leash, rather than a choker type collar. It is kinder and as the dog becomes better trained; you can then switch over to the nylon type choker that is used in the show ring. Some Greyhounds are food motivated, some are not. If food works as bait – great – it can help in training at the “stack”, for a prettier, more attentive picture with the dog well balanced on all four legs. Do not use bait for gait training, only for standing.
Many areas have training classes for dogs and owners that want to show in conformation. Check with your local kennel clubs, training clubs or pet supply stores. These places will also direct you to any upcoming local shows, which you may attend and observe how the various breeds are groomed and shown. Knowledge in many breeds does help train the eye to conformation, movement and handling styles and techniques.
One of the great appeals of the Greyhound is its naturally neat, clean appearance without any effort from the owner. Not much is mandatory for showing other than presenting a clean dog with white teeth and trimmed toenails. For enhancing the neatness of the Greyhound lines, most people trim out the hair in the ears, any long hairs down the back of the thighs and along the flank line. Some people trim whiskers, some do not.
For conformation showing, not much is needed. A nice show lead, whatever type that works best for you and your dog. Some like a nylon or lightweight choker/leash combination. Some like a slip lead. Check out the dog show booths and the pet supply stores that cater to show people. You may want to bring a brush or a towel for a last minute once over on the coat. If you use bait, bring that. Anything that your dog likes is fine – cooked/baked liver, hot dogs, cheese, etc. In warm weather bring along a bucket and drinking water. The above are the essentials, but most of us usually pack any and all items that we even think we may need – lawn chairs, waterless shampoo, paper towels, extra dog blankets, regular walking lead – and list just gets bigger the more you show.
If you are not on a Show Superintendent mailing list, you can check out upcoming shows on www.akc.org.
On the website you will also find all the information you will need as to Show Superintendents and their websites. Once you start entering shows you will get many premium lists (entry forms) directly from the Superintendents that have shows in your area. You may also wish to subscribe to the AKC Gazette magazine, which has many articles and much information in each issue along with a listing of Upcoming Shows.
For entry into AKC shows your dog needs to be at least 6 months of age and AKC registered. There are no disqualifying faults in the Greyhound Standard for the breed, but all entries in conformation must be unaltered - cannot be spayed or neutered (except Veteran class) and males must have two descended normal testicles. You can read the Greyhound Standard on this website.
GETTING A CHAMPIONSHIP
All dogs need 15 points, with at least 2 major wins (those that are 3, 4 or 5 points) under 2 different judges.
Points are calculated by number of dogs defeated in each sex and the points vary for different areas of the country. The point scales are available on the AKC website.
OTHER ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR GREYHOUND
Besides showing in conformation, you may want to consider the many other activities available --- obedience, agility, tracking and lure coursing are some of them. Information on all of these is also on the AKC website.
Good luck showing your Greyhound in whatever venue you choose.