Doing a degree in dog shows!

I got the following email and I agreed to help - or rather I volunteered you lot to help!

I am a second-year undergraduate at Oxford Brookes University. I am currently undertaking a summer research project which involves looking at the Anthropology of Aesthetic Classification. As a focus, (and to make things a bit clearer!) I am investigating dog breeds and their social, economic and political implications (sorry, I know it still sounds a bit 'wordy'!) The data collected will be published as a journal article in conjunction with Professor Jeremy MacClacy at Oxford Brookes. The topics I am keen to discuss and look at in more detail are:
  • How much emphasis is placed on the significance of pedigree in today’s society and why is this the case?
  • How does the Kennel Club attempt to justify its criteria for assessing, valuing and judging dogs and what controversial issues can arise from this? (i.e. health problems) And finally...
  • The role of dog ownership in class structure - which breeds have became associated with particular social groups?
Any assistance would obviously be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time,
Best regards,
Tom Zierold

Here are the questions that Tom wants us to answer! They are interesting and thought provoking.
  1. Do you feel that the judging criteria for novelty or fun dog shows, for example where a dog is judged on aspects such as the condition of its teeth, ears and coat, is ultimately judging the dog handler in their ability to look after their pet?
  2. If so, could this be considered a more appropriate form of judging than the type that exists at Kennel Club conformation shows where dogs are judged against the breed standard?
  3. What are your opinions regarding some of the controversy that surrounds pedigree dog shows? For instance, to what extent would you agree with the following statement: “Current pedigree dog breeding practices that damage welfare cannot be seen as ethical or acceptable. Members of the public who buy pedigree dogs or attend pedigree dog shows are, unintentionally, supporting a breeding system that surely cannot be justified on animal welfare grounds.”
  4. Do you feel the majority of people who participate in confirmation pedigree shows compete primarily for the love of the breed or do you feel the element of competition plays a much bigger part in proceedings? (ie How much is winning the most important thing?)
  5. Do you feel that ultimately competition at dog shows exists primarily between the people rather than the dogs?
  6. Do you feel there is any correlation between the type of dog being shown and the social class of the owner/dog handler? Can you make any generalisations about Terrier people versus Toy for example?
  7. Do you personally have a preference between fun or novelty shows (like The Cold Wet Nose Show) and Kennel Club shows? Can they be compared or do they target totally different dog owners?
  8. Do you have any other opinions regarding the topic you wish to express?
  9. Do you currently compete in novelty events (like Cold Wet Nose etc) and KC organised events (ie conformation-based shows like Crufts)? Please state either, neither or which one. Which ones (if any) do you think benefit the dog or harm the dog?
Can you email your responses to both Tom and me - as I'm fascinated to hear the answers, too!
My email is beverley@dogstodaymagazine and Tom's is
Can you put "Blog research" in your subject area so I can collect them all together and make sure I don't lose them as my Inbox is somewhat running over at the moment with Cold Wet Nose stuff!


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