The Show Bug

A puppy eventually changes from a gawky, ear flying, pooping, chewing, peeing, hilarious ‘duckling’ into something more interesting.

With patience and gentleness you have managed to get it to walk to heel; taught it to ’empty’ in places least likely to cause embarrassment, taught yourself to “bag it” and dispose of poop responsibly; stopped it jumping up at strangers during rainy day walks and now you have a sensible adolescent Border in the house.

Even better, and bursting with pride, you have been told by someone locally who has a Border terrier, that you should show your youngster; ‘it’s a useful type’.

To confirm what you have known all along of course, you telephone the breeder and ask for advice. The breeder suggests that you bring the puppy back for inspection.

Your puppy’s responsible breeder will not pull the wool over your eyes. If the puppy has show potential, you will be told so. However, the breeder is probably confident that he, or she, has kept the best from your particular litter. Like all plans, this is not always so. A quality puppy at nine weeks can evolve into a quality youngster but perhaps lack that certain ‘something’ – a little detail, a bit too much of this, or not enough of that – to make it a winning show dog. Sometimes however, when a breeder uses a stud dog for the first time, the results may look good when planned on paper, but in reality, the breeder may not always have the best dog, so keep an open mind.

The inspection will involve looking to see if the baby teeth have changed and finished in a correct scissor bite, with large uncrowded teeth at the top sitting just over the bottom teeth – like closing scissors. Has your youngster a good parallel front, with straight legs, has your male dog two testicles? How does it move? What does it look like behind? A breeder will know exactly what to look for and you must be prepared for an honest review.

If the answer is diplomatic but not enthusiastic, remember that the dog you take back home is still the loving dog you took to seek advice, and remember also that every Border is not a show dog – most puppies make wonderful companion dogs first.

Of course, any dog can be shown, but if you are unsuccessful and to avoid your own personal disappointment – which in extreme cases, can result in a change of feelings about your dog – find out why your youngster isn’t winning material and take advice. For example, if you were keen to start showing when you bought your puppy, this should have been explained to the breeder, who may have been in a position to select a puppy more likely to answer that need.