Fri, 04/21/2023 - 9:17pm

Question of the Week

Do you think your breed's national specialty should be a stand-alone event, or be in conjunction with other regional specialties?


Marjorie Martorella

Millstone Township, New Jersey

The American Pointer Club has had our last two nationals in conjunction with the Peach Blossom Cluster. We made this decision as the cost of hosting an independent specialty became prohibitive. Our members want companion events to be offered, and in addition we have our field events the same week. The Peach Blossom Cluster was perfect, as they offer many events.

The breed is showcased at an all-breed Cluster. Many exhibitors and handlers take the time to watch the breed. When we were independent, only judges looking to judge Pointers attended.  


Susan Burge

Brecksville, Ohio

I think the major factor has to be the size of the entry. I am past president of Poodle Club of America, and I assure you it takes us an entire week. We start with set-up on Sunday and then change ring configuration at least three times during the week for our national specialty at Purina. Realistically there is no room for any other show. We have one very full day of agility, a second day for obedience, and then a dog day, a bitch day and a final day just for variety and breed. As soon as everything is judged on Friday, those actively showing take off for all-breed shows on Saturday and Sunday. I would assume this is also true for other breeds with large entries.


Andrew Kramer

High Point, North Carolina

For Terrier breeds, I don't think a stand-alone national specialty is called for. The national specialty should always be at Montgomery County. For other breeds, it depends on the number of dogs that routinely show. Dachshunds are fairly numerous, and if an entry greater than 175 (so one judge cannot do the whole breed) is possible, then a stand-alone specialty could be a bonding experience among breeders.


Becca Weber

Neenah, Wisconsin

Sadly, I think having a national with any type of other all-breed or specialty show takes away from the anticipation and excitement of a national and any wins achieved. 

I understand that things have changed over time, whether by necessity or convenience, but I’ve witnessed a sharp decline in offerings such as health clinics, educational seminars, banquets, etc. A direct consequence of this decline is the decline in attendance of pet owners. The truth is that preservation of our breeds will only be successful if we can keep our pet buyers as dedicated to the breed as the breeders are. 

By attaching a national specialty to any other regional or all-breed show, the focus is being shifted to points and standings, which only benefits a few, and does nothing for our breed. 


Ellie Carson

Albany, Oregon

As far as a national specialty for my breed — the German Shepherd Dog — there is really no way it could be held in conjunction with an all-breed show. Between all the venues and the amount of GSDs exhibited, I truly feel no all-breed show would even want to tackle it. 


Garnett Persinger

Conneautville, Pennsylvania

Unfortunately, some of the clubs, like our German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America, do not drawn large entries, and a stand alone can be a financial burden on the club. Our club has done both stand alone and in conjunction with all-breed club national specialty and regional specialty. The club actually benefits financially when we are with the all-breed-club cluster. These are tough times for clubs as members age, and getting new younger members becomes more difficult. The costs of putting on a stand-alone event have also increased. Our national specialty rotates every year across east, midwest, and west, but we also have to have field-trial grounds that can run our national championship field trial, which makes it even harder to find places to hold our events. 

We need to do what the club can afford.


Rachal McKee Sager

Powhatan, Virginia

Great question about stand-alone national events! I believe it really does need to be left to the individual parent club. Some breeds, like Goldens and German Shepherds, have huge entries and multiple venues to compete in, and need to be stand alone. Others, especially very rare breeds, need the opportunity to have multiple opportunities for majors while everyone is located in the same spot. Of course, finances are always a consideration for any club when they need to decide whether to have multiple shows or a stand-alone event. This is an area that really should not be dictated by anything other than the needs of the parent club. 


Virginia Larioza

Fowlerville, Michigan

Honestly, in a perfect scenario a stand alone to immerse oneself in your breed and activities. With venues harder to secure, much less the expense and logistics, I can easily see the advantage of going in with others. We have an aging demographic in my breed, Schipperkes, so the days of laying down plastic or mats and ring gates are past us. I enjoy facilities such as the Roberts Center. A sense of community and coming together for a national are critical, especially for a low-number breed. This is why I prefer to have a national where there is a host hotel. The hanging around together out at the ex-pens, the camaraderie and evaluating are often more important for the breed’s future than what ribbons are awarded in the ring. 


Anne Marie Kubacz

Jackson, New Jersey

We are fortunate to have enough member interest and participation in agility, obedience, rally, breeder and health seminars, health clinics and conformation that Irish Setters have a stand-alone national. But show sites and reasonable hotels are getting harder and harder to find.  

Some clusters go out of their way to provide great accommodations for nationals. Very impressed with the Peach cluster in Georgia and what they provided for the American Pointer Club.


Dana Read

Hillsborough, North Carolina

Old school that I am, I vastly prefer stand-alone nationals so that all focus is on that one particular breed. However, I also see a great educational opportunity in holding related or similar breeds together during the same time frame, with events scheduled so that one could attend all judges-education seminars as well as the actual national for each breed. Think Lhasa, Tibetan Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel and Shih Tzu all at the same hotel during the same week! Or all Akita and Shiba related breeds? That would be exciting, and I should think that it would save all concerned considerable funds. Win/win!


Susan H. Hamlin

Elmira, New York

If at all possible, national specialties should stand alone.

However, in certain cases where a national club may not have the finances to host a stand-alone specialty, or is a low-entry breed, then it might be OK to combine with other regionals or combine with other breeds of similar heritage (e.g., Lhasa Apsos, Tibetan Terriers, Tibetan Spaniels).


Wood Wornall

Weston, Missouri

Select national-quality judges, offer memorable ribbons and trophies, and plan events to round out the weekend: discussion groups, grooming and handling seminars, guest speakers, etc. Make the national not only an event for competition, but also a weekend for education and advancement.


Diane Kepley

Aiken, South Carolina

Absolutely a stand-alone event! The American Spaniel Club hosts two premier events each year: the Cocker Spaniel National and the Flushing Spaniel Show. Because the national not only includes conformation events, but also obedience, rally, agility, CGC, trick dog and agility, we generate sizable entries both from Cocker Spaniel exhibitors and all-breed competitors in non-conformation events. There also are judges-education workshops, breeder-education forums, health clinics, fundraisers and an annual awards dinner. The Flushing Spaniel Show is a limited-breed event for all flushing spaniels that was first held more than 100 years ago. It has grown to include not only the ASC show but also independent specialties for several of the represented breeds. There are also judges-education workshops, fundraisers and the club's annual board and membership meetings. For both shows I believe it would be difficult to incorporate all our events within an all-breed cluster or in conjunction with a specialty cluster. And doing so might diminish the importance of both events to our members and exhibitors.


Linda Tilka

Madeira Beach, Florida

Our national specialty, the Poodle Club of America, could not be as spectacular if it were shared with other crazy busy specialties. Your national should stand alone on its own in all its glory. 


Nancy Edmunds

Bowman, Georgia

I think this depends on the bank account of the given club! If they can afford it and they have a great spot for a stand alone, then by all means do it. A lot of low-entry-breed parent clubs cannot afford a stand-alone show, so they have a designated show. Once their bank account grows and they can afford it, or if the stars align, they can have a S-A!


Bobbie Wood

Cranford, New Jersey

For many years, our national has been part of a “national week” that includes a local specialty (if possible), a regional specialty and then — the icing on the cake — “the National”! If there is no local club in the area, we hold two regionals, so we always have three specialties, and so three majors to offer. I love this format, as we fill the week with many events that bring the club members together, such as futurity, maturity, cut-down sweeps, Top 20, game night, awards banquet, judges education, breeder education, committee meetings and trips to local sites. As we have a coated breed (Lhasa Apso), it also offers us time to bathe our dogs and still have time to participate in all the activities offered during the week. 

This year we are trying something new: It will be our first year doing it in conjunction with all-breed shows, so we only have two days. It will be interesting to see how it works out. I think I will miss all the fun activities we have always done and the ability to get to know the new people.


Patrick C. Byrne 

Kansas City, Kansas

Given the current state of entries in some breeds, I think a national would benefit from association with other specialties AND join up with large all-breed shows. This affords multiple chances for exhibitors.

Terry Hundt

Sandy Hook, Connecticut

I definitely think the Doberman Pincher national should be held by itself. It is a wonderful week of showcasing our fabulous breed. We have a regional before the national. We have a beautiful Top 20 beforehand. We have Top 20 obedience. We have Top 20 rally. We have obedience classes, a junior-handling competition and other events depending on the venue. This week demonstrates not only show dogs, but other competitions that are working in nature. We love our National Week. 


Inge Semenschin

Richmond, California

Yes, I think it is more enjoyable; the entries increase, in my opinion. Exhibitors can connect in many ways. The mentoring in your breed is better because of the increased entry. Might not be the same for low-entry breeds.


Larry Payne

Easley, South Carolina

Good question, and the case could be made for either having a stand-alone event or with a regional event. 

Economically it would make sense to have a regional event. The cost of hosting a national specialty could be shared by all the breed clubs. Professional handlers who handle more than one breed would benefit from the arrangement. With inflation and other costs associated with doing anything, every way to cut costs for all exhibitors and kennel clubs has to be utilized. 

The case against the regional set-up is that each specialty club would lose some of its identity and individuality as a "specialty." It would be akin to having the Westminster dog show in conjunction with a regional all-breed cluster event. It just would never be the same. All the close-knit social activities and camaraderie that are important parts of a specialty event would suffer. 

Financially, I would probably favor it if it meant cutting costs so that more breeders, handlers and exhibitors could attend. Personally, I would not favor it. To me it would no longer be a national breed specialty show. It would just be another large all-breed cluster week. I enjoy those clusters more than the weekend shows, but they are not breed specific. 


Diana Smiley 

Santa Rosa, California

Well, it's nice to go to a stand-alone specialty or national when it's not too far away. If it's far I would need it to be hooked up to all-breed shows so I have more chances to show my dog for that amount of expense.

Bill Stebbins

Port St. Lucie, Florida

I believe that combining national specialties on the same site might prove to be a good financial move for breeds that do not have huge entries. However, for breeds with very large nationals, it is probably not doable. My breed basically takes over a hotel and convention center for an entire week. Knowing that we cannot obtain enough rooms at the host hotel, we also arrange for alternate hotels in the area. Our entry at the nationals is usually in excess of 700.  An all-breed club of which I am an honorary member has had multiple nationals at their outdoor venue for their all-breed shows. These were all total entries of around 100 dogs. Even for smaller-entry nationals, it could take some convincing of the membership not to have a proprietary site.

Delores Burkholder

Rockton, Illinois

In English Cockers we try to also hold a regional specialty


Iva Kimmelman

Stow, Massachusetts 

Our 2023 American Whippet Club National has to stand alone due to sheer numbers and add-on events.

The breed judging takes four days, and by the second day, most people are already exhausted.

There has been lots of discussion on trying to limit add-on events so it's not so exhausting, but so far nothing has changed. It's a shame, really. 

I came with two personal goals, and one of them was to spend my time catching up with old and new friends. So far, so good. 

I write this on day three of breed judging by Lesley Anne Potts. It's been a lot of fun watching her sort through all these gorgeous dogs. 



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