Article Index

Part 4 - SHOW DAY


Once you have done a lot of practicing, it’s time to put your skills to the test and enter a junior showmanship class at a local dog show! If you are at least nine years old and want to enter an AKC show, you must have an AKC Juniors number. It’s free, but since the AKC keeps track of each junior handler’s wins, they have to know a little bit about you. You can go to this website and sign up:
The AKC will send you a “Junior Handler Number” which you’ll have to use when you sign up for a dog show. Be sure to read all the rules for Junior Handlers here on the AKC website:

DressWhen you go to a dog show, you’ll see handlers of all ages in the ring dressed in all sorts of ways. Some will be wearing long pants, some shorter skirts, some a suit jacket and tie, and some a sweater and turtleneck. If you spend time watching the junior showmanship rings (and you should!) pay close attention to what the juniors are wearing. They will no doubt all be dressed well and look like miniature versions of the adults showing in the other rings. Most of the girls will wear a skirt and top, with tights or panty hose. Skirts should not be too long and flowy, as they will interfere with the judge’s view of the dog. They should not be too short, either, as short, tight skirts don’t allow you to run easily, and they don’t look professional. The boys will all be wearing dress pants or khakis, with a dress shirt and tie.

It’s a good idea to choose your clothing wisely, so that it will complement the beautiful, rich colors of our Leonbergers. Also, try to avoid really loud, busy patterns such as big florals or polka dots because they will be distracting to the judge and take away from the professional picture of dog and junior you want the judge to remember.Otter Pops

Since you’ll be running around the ring with your Leonberger, perhaps the most important part of your show wardrobe should be comfortable, sturdy girlsshoes. Girls should wear dress shoes that are flat and will not slip off. You don’t want to run out of your shoes as you’re gaiting your dog around the ring! Boys should wear dress shoes. Just like your clothing, your footwear should look professional and appropriate for your clothes and age. Your hair should be neatly contained in barrettes, a braid, ponytail or bun. A handler whose hair is flying all around will have trouble seeing where she’s going and bending over to stack her dog. Also, unkempt hair presents a messy, careless picture to the judge. . Look at the Leonberger juniors in these pictures. Notice their shoes, hair and solid-color suits.


Just as it’s important for the junior handler to appear neat, clean and professional in the show ring, it’s also important for your Leonberger. Your dog should be bathed before the show, and his coat should be brushed and all dead, loose hair be removed. The feathers should be neatly combed. [pic of dog on grooming table] When you go to a dog show, you’ll see lots of people with their poodles and other breeds up on grooming tables, brushing, combing and trimming hair. DO NOT EVER, EVER TRIM YOUR LEONBERGER’S COAT! It’s okay to let a grownup or a groomer trim the long hairs between their toes, but the Leonberger Breed Standard, which is the document that describes just exactly what a Leonberger dog should look and act like, states that, “Natural appearance of the coat is essential to breed type. Therefore, except for neatening of the feet, Leonbergers are to be presented naturally, with no alteration of the coat, to include sculpting, trimming of whiskers, or any other alterations whatsoever. NO RIBBON SHALL BE AWARDED TO A DOG WHOSE COAT APPEARS TO BE ALTERED, AND JUDGES ARE TO ERR ON THE SIDE OF WITHOLDING OF RIBBONS IF THERE IS ANY DOUBT.” ……..

You should read the complete Leonberger Standard. There is even a course on LeoU about the standard.
Also, make sure that your Leo’s toenails are trimmed. It’s uncomfortable for a dog to move with long toenails, and keeping them short and tidy is part of good grooming. It’s a good idea to have your parents or a groomer trim your Leonberger’s toenails regularly, so that they’re kept short and neat. Letting them grow long and then trimming them short right before a show can be painful and can make them bleed. Check out the Leonberger Owner’s Guide for information on grooming and nails.


Okay. You’ve practiced, sent in your entry fee, bathed your Leonberger, brushed him, and trimmed his nails. All that’s left is to pack the car and head to the show!
But what should you pack? Here’s a checklist of handy items you should always keep in your dog show bag:

• Show collar and lead
• Bait
• Water and water bowl
• Copies of up-to-date rabies certificate and dog license
• Elastic bands (to hold your number)
• Poop bags
• Band aids
• Grooming tools (brushes, etc. for last-minute touch-ups before your class)
• Extra collar and leash
• Healthy snacks for you—granola, fruit, etc. and water
• Rain poncho
• Pen
• Dog first aid kit

You will also want to bring a sturdy crate for your dog and a folding chair for you so that you can both rest and relax before your class. Be sure to get to the show at least an hour early. Dog shows are crowded, confusing places and you want time to find your ring and give you and your dog time to get used to the surroundings.