Professional Handling vs. Owner Handling

Using a professional handler comes with a cost, but its well worth it because your handler knows the judges, knows the circuit, knows the atmosphere and point blank…knows what they are doing. Having a professional handler shows, they are graceful and look put together in the ring.

I feel there is a bit of politics in dog showing, think of the movie Best in Show its borderline real. Having a handler allows you to navigate the circuit quickly, likely finishing your dog far faster than you, the novice can. All in all, you never know if the dog will finish quickly, but I believe my handlers finish my dogs faster than I do. The handler devotes their schedule to the circuit schedule, while as an owner handler you tend to stick to shows close to you that work around your schedule.

I’ve had some Great Danes finish with a handler in one season and others take as long as three seasons. If your dog hasn’t finished in three seasons, you should probably ask yourself if your dog is a great representation of the breed. Showing is just that… proof that your dog is a great representation of the breed. Also ask yourself, how much money are you willing to invest in showing. It can get expensive especially using a professional handler. They cost $50 to $100 a show, plus if you win you should tip about 20%. Unless it’s a major and then tip your heart out!

Having a professional handler has other benefits as well… you can dress casually at the show, you won’t be stressed attending the show, and you can enjoy yourself at the show.

Handling my own dogs is fairly new to me, as I have always used a professional handler and I have found the ring here in New England to be welcoming. People have been really kind and supportive, plus I have met so many new acquaintances who have the same interests as me… Great Danes.

It was quite nerve wracking getting in the ring. Judges want different things, dogs need a lot of training and training at home versus being in the ring is drastically different. Lots of people, noises and smells to distract the dog, and YOU. In the beginning you will both be ungraceful, but like anything, with practice, it gets better.

My first show handling, my dog and I weren’t put together, we forget to run the whole circle, she was tempted by a spectator’s hotdog, we were both hot messes. After getting a few more shows under our belts, both our confidence levels grew and I could tell my Dane was enjoying herself, as was I. There is no better feeling then having a beautiful, well behaved, loyal Great Dane on the end of your lead.

As a breeder, you should be showing your Danes. Isn’t the whole point of breeding to better the breed, and if you’re not competing to show the conformation of your dog, then why breed your Great Dane? If money immediately springs to mind, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.

As a Great Dane pet owner, I urge you to go to show, see new bloodlines, see good examples of the breed and bad examples.

I urge everyone to show their dog. Even if not for conformation, there are shows for agility, tracking, etc. It is truly a great opportunity to bond with your dog and get to know the “working” side of the Great Dane breed.