Small Dogs, Big Dreams
Becoming involved in the sport of purebred dogs
I often get inquiries from new people looking for their 1st show dog. I myself remember vividly exactly what that was like. My hopes in writing this article is to save you some time and from being mislead. With the Internet people can get their name out there and market themselves as something they are not. Anyone can take a relatively cute young puppy with a couple of champions in its pedigree and sell it to you for a “show potential” puppy, potential being the optimal word. The problem is it takes a lot more than a cute puppy to be a successful show dog. These are my suggestions and what I URGE you to do before buying your 1st show dog.
1st TAKE YOUR TIME! You are new and it is very hard for an untrained eye to see a good show dog in a puppy. You will most likely buy several “cute” pets unless you take your time to develop an “eye” for what a decent show dog looks like. The next couple of steps will help you do this.
2nd READ, READ, READ our Breed Standard. The Chihuahua Club of America has a set of standards from which we breed towards; to achieve what we hope will be a good representation of our breed. We also have a PDF printout you can download on the CCA website called “The Illustrated Standard” I highly recommend printing this out and reading it cover to cover, several times till you start to have an idea of what it is saying. Our breed standard can be kind of vague. The illustrated standard will walk you through each section of our standard and explain it thoroughly as well as give pictures and examples.
3rd GO TO DOG SHOWS and watch them in the ring. Meet people and breeders. Build relationships with these people. Real Show breeders will want you to build a relationship with them before they will trust you with one of their show dogs. You need to understand that these people have spent most of their lives and all of their available money into obtaining and breeding the best dogs that they could to build a line they believe best represents the CCA Breed Standard. They are not going to let their show quality dogs go unless they know that you are serious about the breed and willing to protect what they have worked so hard to achieve.
4th STAY AWAY from breeder’s who always have puppies available. The chances are they are probably not in it for the right reasons and have not put the work, money and time into building a consistent line of show dogs to even realistically sell you a show dog. Anyone that eagerly offers you a show puppy without getting to know you (for a period of time, not one email) is probably not selling you a dog that you are going to do a lot of winning with.
5th JOIN and BECOME INVOLVED in your local specialty club and your local all breed club. Most areas have AKC breed clubs formed to represent purebred dogs. These are the people that put on dog shows and there is a ton of knowledge in these clubs. Many of them also hold low cost or free handling classes to teach you ring procedure ands how to train your dogs to be good show dogs.
6th UNDERSTAND what you are getting yourself into. If you are in any way under the impression that there is any money to be made in this “business” you are wrong! It is a very expensive hobby that you will continue to pour money into as long as you are crazy enough to stay in it. It will cost you a couple of thousands of dollars to get a nice show dog from a reputable proven show breeder and that is ONLY the beginning. The expenses of entry fees, supplies, and traveling to shows will start to rack up very quickly. Many show breeders will require a show contract on their dogs, which means if you can not get it finished in a certain amount of time than you will have to hire a professional handler to finish the dog for you and that could easily cost thousands of dollars. If you really get involved and decide to take on the burden of breeding show dogs the amount of your investment will greatly increase. These dogs are very hard to breed and will likely need c-sections on most of their litters. The average Chihuahua litter is 2 to 3 puppies and often they do not all survive. It is said that you will lose 30% of all puppies in whelp. I have found this number to be pretty close to true. Every time you breed a Chihuahua you risk losing your beloved momma and all of her babies due to complications and therefore each and every litter needs to be carefully planned out and the gains should outweigh the risks to make it even worth it. If you are thinking you will sell the puppies to make your money back, you will likely not even make enough to cover a fraction of the costs it took to breed the litter in the 1st place, unless you sacrifice quality and care.
If you take your time and follow these steps and figure out what your intentions are and what you hope to achieve in dogs than you will be far better prepared to buy your 1st show dog. There are many level’s of involvement one can have from just wanting to have a nice show dog as a pet and enjoying to show on the weekends to becoming extremely passionate about the breed and dedicating a large portion of your life and money into showing and breeding quality Chihuahuas. No matter what level of involvement you choose if you have the right intentions and take this sport and the breeding of purebred dogs seriously you will be virtuous in way that far exceed any of the money and time you put into this. We do what we do because we love the breed and want to protect everything that makes it special.