Get Them to a Show

By Jessica Freni

There’s no point denying it, the pet public loves “doodles”- they love them in any size, shape, color or coat type. They love them despite the grooming demands and unpredictability. They buy them up from “mini” doodle, according to Google a 13-20″ dog of 15-35lbs, to giant breed poodle mixes, the current most popular trend being the ubiquitous “bernerdoodle” up to 100lbs (and up to $5000 purchase price). How many established purebreds fall into the scope of what the public then wants- 15-100lbs and $2000 up to $5000 of varying coat types and colors? Probably the bulk of breeds when you think about it.

So, what does this have to do with dog shows? People buy doodles because they see them,  they feel familiar with them, they have high visibility and clever marketing. They are ACCESSIBLE. How many doodle buying families would have been as well, or better,  suited to the breeds in the mix,  i.e. a poodle or an aussie or a Cavalier instead of a “cavachon”? Doodles are everywhere. Every time I take my dogs to Petco, training classes, for a walk around the neighborhood or to a vet appointment you can’t swing a leash without hitting a handful of “doods”. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about purebreds, never mind well bred. Such a change in the pet landscape in the last two decades. I use to see in any evening a variety of labradors, cockers, Beagles and GSDs.

When these would be doodle buyers visit their friends and go to soccer games, they see these dogs and have interactions with them and often it leads to Breeder Referrals. People don’t know they would enjoy a Lowchen when they’ve never met one or would actually adore a poodle when the only ones they’ve seen are in high maintenance coiffed trims on TV. Part of the solution, we need to get the public to the dog show and once there make it a warm, fun,  positive and engaging experience. If you see people walking around, take a minute to bring them into a conversation, stop from the hustle and bustle to answer questions, share some breed info or a business card and even better let them pet the dogs!

Obviously, it is a priority of clubs to advertise to the fancy. Budgets are tight,  costs are high and entries help pay the bills. However, please urge your clubs to devote some advertising resources to the pet public- radio, social media targeting via FB, put signage up at your local stores or vet offices, etc. Consider, waiving a spectator fee as families are often looking for free/ family budget friendly activities.  AKC Meet the Breeds are great events, but they’re few and far between, a weekend show cluster is a weekly meet the breeds opportunity! Task yourself to bring someone new to a show this season, if everyone did this it would have an undeniable impact on scope of reach! If they meet our breeds, they will come to love them and seek them out for their family homes.