How Dog Shows Work


You know those shows where people wearing sensible shoes jog dogs around in circles? They actually represent the pinnacle of a long and complex path to glory for dogs and their owners. Join Chuck and Josh as they peek inside the American dog show.

Announcer: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from howstuffworks.com.

Josh Clark: Hey.

Chuck Bryant: Hey.

Josh Clark: This is unusual, but I feel like we plug other people's stuff so often, let's take some time and plug our TV show, our television show.

Chuck Bryant: People are like, "Again?"

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: "We know."

Josh Clark: Well, then by now you know that it's gonna premier at 10PM Eastern Standard Time on Science Channel at 10PM, episode one. At 10:30PM, episode two follows right behind it. Two back-to-back episodes of Stuff You Should Know, the TV show where we play ourselves.

Chuck Bryant: That's right. And it is premiering after the season three premier, or if you're from England, series three premier of Idiot Abroad with Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais. And it's a great lead and we're really happy because it's an awesome show. And, if you don't have TV or cable you can actually purchase our show now on iTunes.

Josh Clark: After the premier date.

Chuck Bryant: That's right.

Josh Clark: Every time a new episode comes out, the next day it'll be up for sale on iTunes.

Chuck Bryant: Yep, for $1.99. And Science Channel is so cool. They are making the first available show for free, the premier. For none money.

Josh Clark: And we think you're gonna like it. If you don't, let us know. If you do, let us know, but we had a good time making it. We have the whole first season done and we're rolling them out starting January 19th.

Chuck Bryant: That's right. We appreciate your support.

Josh Clark: Yeah. Okay, on with it. Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. With me, as always, is Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant. And that makes this Stuff You Should Know. The podcast -

Chuck Bryant: Indeed.

Josh Clark: - is about dogs.

Chuck Bryant: My favorite topic.

Josh Clark: Yeah?

Chuck Bryant: It's one of them.

Josh Clark: What else?

Chuck Bryant: I don't know; dogs. I'm one of those people that like dogs more than many humans.

Josh Clark: Sure.

Chuck Bryant: So, as you know - so all the dog shows - I'm not real big on.

Josh Clark: I love watching dog shows.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I just - I've never gotten into them.

Josh Clark: I know there's criticism, there's controversy, but -

Chuck Bryant: I don't care about that. I just get kinda bored watching them.

Josh Clark: I never get bored. It's almost like watching a fractal screen saver or something. It sucks me into that level of just zoned out-atude.

Chuck Bryant: Is it appointment television for you? Do you make a point every February something, I think?

Josh Clark: I think last year it was -

Chuck Bryant: January?

Josh Clark: Valentine's Day.

Chuck Bryant: Okay, early February?

Josh Clark: Yeah. Last year, when a little Pekinese won, named Malikee.

Chuck Bryant: I think I remember seeing that dog.

Josh Clark: Look at that dog. Its face is smooshed. It's beyond cute.

Chuck Bryant: Look at that hair.

Josh Clark: So apparently, if you want to blow up the Twitter verse with angry tweets you can talk politics, you can talk religion or you can hold the Westminster Dog Show and select a best-in-show.

Chuck Bryant: People get pretty upset?

Josh Clark: Man, people went crazy last year. So -

Chuck Bryant: What like you commenting, or just in the Twitter universe?

Josh Clark: Just people on Twitter.

Chuck Bryant: Okay.

Josh Clark: I'm just a fan. I don't put any -

Chuck Bryant: It's not like you live tweeted during the show?

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: Okay.

Josh Clark: But I live tweet very infrequently. It's tough on the thumbs.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: But so Malikee, this little, cute, four-year-old Pekinese won best-in-show and people were really mad. They called it a mop, Cousin It, Geraldo Rivera's mustache, a wookie, Snookie for some reason; maybe just because it rhymes with wookie and that's what they were going for and they had just been watching Jersey Shore. Who knows? But Malikee is no slouch. It had won 114 best-in-show awards; only four years old.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: So this thing's been mopping up the competition. Man, I just made myself shiver.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: But people went crazy. They - one guy said he was a fan of the Dalmatian. He said, "I'm done with these dog shows." And I think that happens every year.

Chuck Bryant: Until the next dog show.

Josh Clark: Exactly. There's a lot of people who feel very passionately about dog shows. There's plenty of people like me who love to just zone out and watch them.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: And then there's people who just don't know anything about them. And that's what we're here for today, to explain everything there is to know about how dog shows work.

Chuck Bryant: That's right and this will either be really interesting to you or you may just zone out like Josh does watching the Westminster Show.

Josh Clark: I don't think we've ever released an uninteresting episode. Maybe they have uninteresting titles, but you go on and you listen to it, it will interest you. I defy you right now, Stuff You Should Know listeners who haven't listened to every single episode, so we'll call you the 28 percent, to go out and find an episode that sounds boring in the title that you've not heard and listen to it. And I guarantee you, you will find it interesting. It's the - it's just that thing.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, one comes to mind, "College Football Rankings." Interesting to me, but boy, our listeners are not into college football for the most part.

Josh Clark: But was it boring? Was it really not interesting? There was nothing interesting in there?

Chuck Bryant: I think if you're not into sports at all, then it was probably really boring.

Josh Clark: Got you.

Chuck Bryant: But -

Josh Clark: All right, we'll void that one. The guarantee is void.

Chuck Bryant: But hey, if you're into sports you'll love it.

Josh Clark: No, I think on the other end, if you're into sports it was like, "Well, you guys messed this up or you forgot this."

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, well -

Josh Clark: Oh and hey, congratulations. We are now an award winning podcast.

Chuck Bryant: We got a Stitchie.

Josh Clark: Is that what they're called?

Chuck Bryant: That's what I made up.

Josh Clark: Marc Maron had to call our names. He hosted the Stitcher Awards last night.

Chuck Bryant: Oh really?

Josh Clark: Yeah. He won one himself for best episode.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, we were nominated for that, too for -

Josh Clark: We were for -

Chuck Bryant: - one that I didn't think was -

Josh Clark: - "Ten Accidental Inventions."

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and that was okay, but I would have picked a different best episode.

Josh Clark: I think it was the saccharine bit that really led us into that.

Chuck Bryant: Sure. On the toast?

Josh Clark: Yeah. Okay, so anyway, dog shows.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, conformation shows not confirmation. C - O - N - F - O - R are what we're gonna talk about for most of this show and that is purebred dogs competing against other purebred dogs, almost exclusively based on physical attributes.

Josh Clark: Yeah. That's the Westminster Dog Show that you see every year at Madison Square Garden. It's just yeah, what the dog looks like and basically, its appearance, its body structure, and then to a lesser extent, its -

Chuck Bryant: Tude.

Josh Clark: Yeah, its attitude, its character.

Chuck Bryant: Because that also - what they're trying to do here - if you've ever watched a part of this - and I love that this - who wrote this one?

Josh Clark: Jane McGrath.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, old Jane. I remember her. She wrote that "Have you ever been channel surfing and come across one?" I feel like a lot of people, that is their entrance into the dog show world is they're flipping it around in February and they go, "Oh yeah, that thing where the Christopher Guest movie mocked. I'll watch a few minutes of that." And I've done that and I've always been like, "I don't get it. How are they judging these other dogs against each other?"

Josh Clark: That's a very good question.

Chuck Bryant: And we're gonna tell you how.

Josh Clark: Yeah, because this little Pekinese went up against things like Great Danes and Dalmatians and Dobermans and all that and it still beat them all. And the way it did that is how they judge any kind of conformation show. They judge the dog by the standards of its breed, and then the dog that most closely fits those idealized standards wins.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, these very specific registered standards.

Josh Clark: Yeah. So let me give you an example. I was looking this up. There's - and the AKC has developed these standards from information taken from breeders.

Chuck Bryant: That's right.

Josh Clark: And they - for example, the Lakeland terrier one of the standards is its attitude, right? And the Lakeland terrier has "bold, gay and friendly with a confidently cock of the walk attitude." So this is the kind of thing that the AKC -

Chuck Bryant: Sits around and does.

Josh Clark: Yeah, basically.

Chuck Bryant: I love that. In England, they have different standards than the American Kennel Club and they have a different show called Crufts, C - R - U - F - T - S. And theirs is a little bit different, but we'll get to that later.

Josh Clark: Yeah, we'll talk about that in a little bit. For the most part, we're focusing on Westminster and the AKC. So in addition to attitude, character traits there's all those physical traits that the AKC has maintained on each breed. So for example, balance and how well the dog stands up. Although the gait is important -

Chuck Bryant: If your dog falls over that's probably a bad sign.

Josh Clark: - but - yeah, it's not gonna win this year - balance is what we would call symmetry for humans. It's the overall proportions of its shape and size.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, like that Scottish terrier is really pretty except boy, look at those ears.

Josh Clark: Look at the size of its butt.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, you're out. Sorry Scotty. Weight, size, eyes, and again, eyes is size and shape and color. If you've got that one wonky eye forget about it.

Josh Clark: Mm-hmm, unless you're an Australian Shepherd.

Chuck Bryant: Are they supposed to have one?

Josh Clark: I think they're supposed to have a blue and brown.

Chuck Bryant: A blue and a brown?

Josh Clark: Every one I've seen has.

Chuck Bryant: But what does the AKC say?

Josh Clark: I don't know.

Chuck Bryant: They don't care what schlubs like you and I think.

Josh Clark: The head shape.

Chuck Bryant: Of course. Ears, muzzle, whiskers?

Josh Clark: Thickness of whiskers is an important one.

Chuck Bryant: Oh really?

Josh Clark: Yeah, I would think that would be an indicator of poor health.

Chuck Bryant: What, if they had bad whiskers?

Josh Clark: Thin whiskers, brittle whiskers. I think you want nice, stout whiskers like a centimeter thick each. That's probably the standard for any breed.

Chuck Bryant: Okay. This is the JKC.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Teeth, you always see them checking out the teeth. You don't want any kind of weird scissor bite or, I guess, certain breeds have the under bite.

Josh Clark: Yeah, a lot of them do the brachial cardi.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, our own Jerry's dog, Charlie, I recently learned, has a little bit of an under bite. Sometimes the lip will get hung and the little bottom teeth are just kinda jutted out there.

Josh Clark: That's very cute.

Chuck Bryant: That's very cute. You wanna go over and like adjust the lip and say, "Here you go." Moisten them.

Josh Clark: I like dogs that have teeth sticking like Shih tzus.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, Boxers, too, right?

Josh Clark: Boxers, Pugs, Pekinese.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, did that one?

Josh Clark: Yeah. They all have that. It's like brachial cardi. It's like anything with a smooshed face has an under bite as well.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, okay. Teeth - we just said teeth. Tail, I mean, shoulders. These dudes are feeling - these judges are feeling these dogs as well, like muscle and bone. They're trying to get under the fur to judge these things.

Josh Clark: So one of the big things your dog has to learn very early on is to let strangers feel them up in all sorts of uncomfortable places.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, you don't want your dog snapping at this guy when he fondles your dog.

Josh Clark: No. And if your dog snaps at the judge and then falls over just go home.

Chuck Bryant: It's all over. What did he say in best in show when the dog broke his gait? The one guy said, "Oh, he might as well have taken a dump right there on the floor" or something.

Josh Clark: Yeah, Michael McKean said that, I think.

Chuck Bryant: He's awesome.

Josh Clark: And then of course, there's coat, length and texture and color. And very much like thoroughbred horses, there's accepted colors for each breed. You've got a dog that's blue and it's supposed to be a golden retriever you got problems.

Chuck Bryant: If you've got a golden retriever you have many problems.

Josh Clark: Although you could probably make some money taking him around the country.

Chuck Bryant: Oh sure.

Josh Clark: Like in an old time circus.

Chuck Bryant: Where you can't make money is by winning the Westminster Dog Show.

Josh Clark: Yeah, that's a good point.

Chuck Bryant: You would think that these things offer big cash prizes, but they don't. It is really about prestige and being one of those dog show people, wearing that ribbon and getting that trophy.

Josh Clark: Sure, wearing sensible shoes and learning to walk very fast with a leash.

Chuck Bryant: Right, because your gait matters as a human.

Josh Clark: Right. So you put all this together and these judges know the standards for the breeds and when they're looking at these dogs they're saying - they're matching it up to their mental catalog that they have. And then the ones that most closely match the idealized version of the breed like we said wins. And that's how you get the little Lhasa Apso or the Pekinese that can beat out a Great Dane or a German shepherd or something like that. That's how they compare them.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. And that's only been going on since - I say only - since 1907. Previous to that and this has been going on at Madison Square Garden and in New York City since 1877. They didn't have -

Josh Clark: Yeah, it's old time.

Chuck Bryant: Big time. They didn't have a best-in-show at all until 1907 because they said, "How do we qualify this?" And they did.

Josh Clark: Right. They figured it out.

Chuck Bryant: And it's really - Jane says, "It's confusing, but once I spell it out it's simple," but it's still a little confusing.

Josh Clark: It took me a couple of times to figure this out.

Chuck Bryant: There's just a lot of steps.

Josh Clark: She does a great job of explaining it. It's just there's a lot to it. So you wanna explain this stuff? The Westminster Dog Show, we should say is the pinnacle, the peak in the United States for any dog, but there's a long road ahead of it. Like we said, Malikee, the winner of 2012 show had 114 best-in-shows under its belt.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. And Jane called it the super bowl. I would say it's more like an all star game if the all star game counted for something.

Josh Clark: Very picky.

Chuck Bryant: Because it's all these all stars from the different breeds from all these shows making this final all star team.

Josh Clark: It's like the little league world series for dogs.

Chuck Bryant: Okay, great. It's like the chess - it's like Bobby - what's his face?

Josh Clark: Fischer.

Chuck Bryant: Fischer. I almost said Bobby Riggs.

[Crosstalk]

Chuck Bryant: Who, Bobby Riggs?

Josh Clark: Bobby Fischer.

Chuck Bryant: Oh yeah. That's sad. Did you ever see Searching for Bobby Fischer?

Josh Clark: I did.

Chuck Bryant: It's a great movie.

Josh Clark: Years back. And then you know, of course, that song "One Night in Bangkok?"

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: It's from a Broadway show, and I can't remember what the Broadway show is, but it was based on Bobby Fischer and his life and how he moved to Asia and just kind of evolved.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: That song is about Bobby Fischer.

Chuck Bryant: And that was from a Broadway show?

Josh Clark: As far as I know, yes.

Chuck Bryant: And then the pop version was just re-recorded by whoever that was?

Josh Clark: Possibly by the original composers, but for the radio.

Chuck Bryant: I thought "One Night in Bangkok" was about -

Josh Clark: You would think.

Chuck Bryant: Never mind. I was gonna bring up -

Josh Clark: All you had to do is just end there.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, it was Gary Glitter. That's who I was thinking.

Josh Clark: Yeah, I don't think so.

Chuck Bryant: I think he got in trouble in Bangkok, if you know what I mean.

Josh Clark: He did, and he recently got in trouble with the whole Jimmy Saville -

Chuck Bryant: Oh, he was part of that, too.

Josh Clark: Apparently so.

Chuck Bryant: Gross. Man, what a sidetrack that was.

Josh Clark: So okay, to be a champion - this is what a dog aims for is to be a champion.

Chuck Bryant: That's right.

Josh Clark: Because if you're a champion you get to add CH as prefix to your name.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, like I would be CH, then Chuck if I were a champion dog.

Josh Clark: Yeah, you'd be ch-chuck.

Chuck Bryant: All right, so let's walk everyone through this all right?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: All right, to be a champion you've gotta get - compile a certain number of points and you earn these points at different dog show competitions around the country that are not the Westminster show.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and from different judges.

Chuck Bryant: Right. You've gotta get at least 15 points from three different judges or at least two major wins from separate judges. And a major win is where you can earn three, four or five points. And that's when you can get the CH as a champion.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: Just for that little show though, right - or no; for the compilation of those shows?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: So when you get this - when you get to become a champion, when you have, I think, it's 15 points and two major wins from separate judges -

Chuck Bryant: Yes, you're right.

Josh Clark: - you get to this point and also, like you said, it's not Westminster; it's these little specialty shows. And I don't mean little to diminish them. I just think compared to Westminster they're smaller.

Chuck Bryant: It's not on ESPN.

Josh Clark: And there's specialty shows - well, it's on the OCHO of that.

Chuck Bryant: Is it?

Josh Clark: These specialty shows are based on specific breeds. So you'll go to the Chihuahua show or the Lakeland terrier show and the dogs are separated between male and female, and we can say the B word in this one because it's what it's called.

Chuck Bryant: That's my new band name, by the way.

Josh Clark: What?

Chuck Bryant: Winner's bitch.

Josh Clark: Okay. And the males and the females are then separated into six different classes. You've got the puppy class, the 12 to 18-month-old class, novice (so those are dogs that are six months or older that haven't won any points yet and haven't won any first place prizes.)

Chuck Bryant: So they can be a little older, but they're still rookies as far as the competition stage goes.

Josh Clark: Right. And six months is the minimum age to compete in an AKC show.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, below that you're just - there's no way.

Josh Clark: They're too dumb.

Chuck Bryant: Too unpredictable.

Josh Clark: Bred by exhibiter is a class of dogs where the person showing the dog is also the breeder and the breeder, by the way, is the owner of the dog's mother.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: There's American bred, which is any dog born in the USA. And then there's open. The open class is open to any dog and this is the only class that any dog that's already become a champion can compete in, in the specialty show.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, they are?

Josh Clark: Yeah, that's the only class open to them because they could just mop up all the other classes because they have to face any takers in the open class.

Chuck Bryant: All right, that's a good way to put it.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: So they're divided up by male and female. The males go first and they inspect all the males as they do at any of the shows.

Josh Clark: You know what that means.

Chuck Bryant: Fondling.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: You give them the award ribbons, first through fourth place and you don't get any points at this point though. The first place winners of the male class have to compete for the winner's dog. The female's class competes for winner's bitch. You wanna say it. I've said it twice now.

Josh Clark: I don't wanna say it. I find it difficult to say.

Chuck Bryant: Oh really?

Josh Clark: It's just the connotations.

Chuck Bryant: Sure. You know I've never used that word in anger about someone.

Josh Clark: It's a very rough, terrible word.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. And I don't think that makes me a good person or anything, but there's just a couple of things that I wouldn't call my worst enemy and that's one of them. I don't have any enemies though, so what am I talking about?

Josh Clark: So you've got the winner's dog and the winner's bitch and this is the point where they start winning awards.

Chuck Bryant: Winning points.

Josh Clark: Points, I mean. I'm sorry. So this is - all these different dogs have been weeded out by the different classes and then you've got the - out of all these six classes of the male version and the female version you have winners, right? And then there's - so this is where the points start being awarded. And then there's chances for more points in the same show. Any champion can come along and take the winners on for best-in-show - or best-in-breed.

Chuck Bryant: Yes. And you compile extra points depending on how many dogs they beat out. So if you beat out a bunch of more dogs you can earn up to five points.

Josh Clark: Right, five points is the most. And remember, a major win is three, four or five points in a win.

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Okay. So you can win some by being the winner's dog or the winner's bitch. You can - the champions can take those guys on in the best-of-breed. And then between those two, the winner's bitch and the winner's dog there's another walk-off, I guess. And they can win points, whoever beats who. And then there's the best-of-opposite sex.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that was the best of winners and then the best-of-opposite sex, which it says the best dog of the opposite sex of the best-of-breed.

Josh Clark: Yes, so whichever dog, whether it's the winner's dog, the winner's bitch or any champion that took them on and won the best-of-breed. So that's a male that wins. And there's another category for the winners that's females or vice versa, the best-of-opposite sex. Basically, you're just like, "We've got all these points sitting around; let's just get rid of some."

Chuck Bryant: Good point.

Josh Clark: Or it's like did you ever go to camp and run a race, but you ran terribly, but you still got a ribbon that just said participant?

Chuck Bryant: Oh yeah.

Josh Clark: Maybe it's like that.

Chuck Bryant: That's like every race I ever ran.

Josh Clark: Same here. I had a trophy once that just - it was a sad face.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yeah, it was a baseball bag and it was kind of sitting at the foot of the kid with his head hung down and frowning.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I played church sports, so we didn't - they didn't do a lot of trophies even in church leagues. The ultimate victor of the church got a trophy, but they weren't big on ribbons and trophies.

Josh Clark: The ultimate victor of the church league, I would imagine, is salvation.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. We all won. Okay, so then you've got your best-of-breed winner and then that dog can then advance to a group show where all these best-of-breed winners compete, AKA - or AKC Westminster.

Josh Clark: Right. So to make that point, when you are at a specialty show and you're aiming for Westminster, which I imagine every dog there is, you want to win best-of-breed. You can win points and become a champion through winning other stuff like best-of-opposite sex, best-of-winners, winner's bitch, but to move on to the next level you have to win best-of-breed of that show and you have to win a bunch, I imagine.

Chuck Bryant: That's right. And at this point, half of our listeners are delighted and half their eyes are rolling back in their head.

Josh Clark: Man, we just explained the heck out of that.

Chuck Bryant: I agree.

Josh Clark: So we're at -

Chuck Bryant: Best in Show.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: The movie.

Josh Clark: That's such a good movie. If you've not seen Best in Show, the Christopher Guest film, just go out and see it right now. Just stop. I think it's streaming right now.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, I'm sure it is.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it's really good.

Chuck Bryant: It's hard to pick out a favorite part of that movie, but the scene that always pops up to me is when Parker Posey is trying to get a replacement - was it a bee?

Josh Clark: Yeah, it's a bee.

Chuck Bryant: There's a little bee stuffed animal and she can't find it, and the guy's trying to help her. He's like, "Well, this yellow and black" and it was like a parrot or something. I can't remember it all, but she is just like my hero.

Josh Clark: Yeah, she's great. She's very good.

Chuck Bryant: All right, so a little bit on the AKC. There are several hundred dog breeds in the world, but the AKC only recognizes a little over 150.

Josh Clark: 150.

Chuck Bryant: That's it. And they separate those into groups. And -

Josh Clark: Yeah, the AKC loves -

Chuck Bryant: Categorizing.

Josh Clark: - breaking - putting dogs into categories and breaking them down and then putting them into new categories. And that's what they do here.

Chuck Bryant: Right. And the poor dog's just like "What? Can I have a treat?"

Josh Clark: "Can I get a Beggin' Strip or what?"

Chuck Bryant: "Squirrel." Okay, sporting dogs is one. Obviously, these are dogs that are good for hunting: pointers, retrievers, setters and spaniels.

Josh Clark: Yeah, those are good dogs.

Chuck Bryant: Great dogs. Hounds: beagles, blood hounds, dachshunds.

Josh Clark: I like hounds except for the baying, the howling.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, do they howl?

Josh Clark: Oh my god. Yeah, a beagle - have you never heard a beagle?

Chuck Bryant: No, I've never had a beagle or been around beagles that much.

Josh Clark: Oh wow, they are loud and insistent.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Insistent.

Josh Clark: Super cute puppies though. Possibly the cutest puppies of any breed, I think. Those and - oh man, what's the one I'm thinking of, the little puff balls? It's an Asian dog. The little puff balls.

Chuck Bryant: The little Maltese?

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: Is it a little dog in the end?

Josh Clark: Yeah, but the puppies are little puff balls and they stay puff balls.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, Pomeranian?

Josh Clark: Yes. Those are pretty cute puppies.

Chuck Bryant: They don't even look real. It looks like when you squeeze them it should make a little noise.

Josh Clark: Right. They do.

Chuck Bryant: They do?

Josh Clark: Yeah, but you don't wanna do that.

Chuck Bryant: Okay, working dogs; we're talking Great Danes, rottweilers, Saint Bernards, dogs who are hardy and they even are used as working dogs, like search and rescue and stuff like that.

Josh Clark: Right. And then there's terriers that chase rats.

Chuck Bryant: Did they?

Josh Clark: Maybe even fight a cobra or two. Those are little schnauzers, Scottish terriers, also known as Scotties, bull terriers, which you would recognize as Spuds McKenzie.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Man, those things are weird looking.

Chuck Bryant: My buddy, Clay just got a giant schnauzer.

Josh Clark: They're big.

Chuck Bryant: This thing is like six months old and he's already as big as my biggest dog. He's like, "Just wait until you see" - his name is bro. He's like, "Just wait until you see Bro at the end of this. He's gonna be enormous."

Josh Clark: How big is he expected to get weight wise?

Chuck Bryant: I don't know, but really big. He's awesome, very, very fun dog. Just like for a dog to be that young and that big they don't have control of their limbs yet, so Bro would just go running downstairs and just face plant and then get up with the happiest expression behind his little eyes.

Josh Clark: Dogs are cute like that.

Chuck Bryant: They are.

Josh Clark: What else, toy dogs?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Chihuahuas, poodles, pugs and how do you pronounce it? I always said Shih Tzu?

Josh Clark: Shih Tzu.

Chuck Bryant: Shih Tzu. Non-sporting dogs, I guess these are the intellects. This is a catch-all breed when you don't have unifying characteristics, which is kind of sad.

Josh Clark: The one unifying characteristic is that these dogs don't play.

Chuck Bryant: They don't play. Bulldogs, Dalmatians and the American Eskimo dog, which I've never heard of.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it's basically like, "We don't know what to do with you guys, so we're gonna put you in the non-sporting dog."

Chuck Bryant: And then two more: herding dogs like Australian shepherds and miscellaneous.

Josh Clark: So remember, we said that the AKC likes to classify dogs and there's more breeds than it recognizes. This is a group that they - you can't win points, you can't win any major awards, I believe, but if there's a breed that's starting to get more attention and there's more people breeding it, it's like part of the process of becoming recognized. You start out in the miscellaneous group.

Chuck Bryant: So that's pre-recognition almost?

Josh Clark: Yeah. Hey man, these people are keeping track of a dog's cock suredness. They're - they pay attention do details.

Chuck Bryant: All right, so the best of the breeds in the each group are gonna compete in the group show. And then if you win that group show, then you compete in the ultimate. I think we skipped that part, which is the all breed show. And that's the all star game, the super bowl.

Josh Clark: That's Westminster.

Chuck Bryant: The chess match.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: The Bobby Riggs versus Billy Jean King.

Josh Clark: That's when a judge goes through each of these groups and picks out the best, right?

Chuck Bryant: Right, seven groups because the eighth can't win.

Josh Clark: Right. And they basically go through and say, "You're number one, you're number two, you're number three, you're number four." And all of a sudden, that number one is the best in the show.

Chuck Bryant: And a controversy erupts.

Josh Clark: Twitter goes crazy.

Chuck Bryant: I might have to pay attention this year.

Josh Clark: It's - yeah, it's fun to watch. I've never watched it where I was tense, but I've been like, "Oh, that's great" or "Oh, really? That's not that good."

Chuck Bryant: I'm sure you find yourself rooting for certain dogs though.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah?

Josh Clark: Yeah, there's always a dog - there's always at least one -

Chuck Bryant: Who captures your heart?

Josh Clark: - if not several where you're just like, "I like that dog."

Chuck Bryant: All right, let's talk about the criticism of dog shows because there's definitely plenty.

Josh Clark: Yeah, there is.

Chuck Bryant: It's out there. One of the problems that certain groups have is that when you're talking purebred dogs you're talking about breeding and I myself and many others are against dog breeding because there's plenty of dogs out there for the taking.

Josh Clark: Yeah, but they - they're mutts.

Chuck Bryant: So breeders basically breed these dogs to acquire these - or to at least hold onto these attributes. And that means in breeding sometimes that means shorter life spans and disease and defects, birth defects.

Josh Clark: Yeah, like Dalmatians tend to suffer from blindness and German Shepherds suffer from hip displasia. And these traits have become associated with the breed, these standards of the breed that the AKC maintains. And it's kinda like, "Well, yeah, but if you wanna have a dog that meets all these other criteria it's also gonna get displasia when it's six." And that's just part of inbreeding. It's narrowing of the gene pool.

Chuck Bryant: And I've definitely noticed - this isn't 100 percent of course, but all the dogs and people I've known who had dogs throughout the years, I've noticed more purebred dogs dying younger than the mutts.

Josh Clark: Yeah. Well, supposedly, they have a weaker immune system. Remember - I don't remember what episode it was, but we were talking about that experiment that people's scent - people used scents to detect an immune system different from yours because when you put together your immune system and somebody else's immune system for reproduction, the kid should have a doubly great immune system.

Chuck Bryant: Man that was a long time ago. Do you remember that?

Josh Clark: Yeah, it was. I don't remember what episode it was. "Smell" maybe?

Chuck Bryant: Maybe so. Remember a few minutes ago we were talking about the miscellaneous category could eventually earn you status as an officially recognized breed? The American Border Collie Association, ABCA really didn't want their dog to become recognized by the AKC because they thought that meant once it's an official breed then that means breeding will become more intense and these dogs will suffer from all these things that we just told you about.

Josh Clark: Yeah, they specifically petitioned with the AKC and said, "Don't recognize us."

Chuck Bryant: Please don't recognize.

Josh Clark: And the AKC said, "We're gonna recognize you."

Chuck Bryant: I don't think it was maliciously, but they're like, "This is what we do and we're gonna recognize this dog as a breed."

Josh Clark: No, they were like, "Had you not asked we wouldn't have, but you did so sorry."

Chuck Bryant: And PETA has also filed an official objection against tail docking, which is when they amputate the tail so you have the little nub.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it's not just tails; ears.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, ear cropping.

Josh Clark: There's a lot of breeds that have these unnatural attributes that you have to perform surgery on them to get, which is counter intuitive because you're talking about the idealized version of a breed. Why would you have to take some sort of technological step to reach that ideal version? If it doesn't happen naturally it seems really awful.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, it does to me, too, but I don't even declaw my cats.

Josh Clark: Yeah, that's the way to go.

Chuck Bryant: That's how I am, but I've got crap all over my house that's cat-scratched.

Josh Clark: But you know Holly Fry of Pop Stuff, she was talking about how she lets her cats play on her iPad.

Chuck Bryant: Oh really?

Josh Clark: And I was like, "You must have a serious scratch guard" because there's like cat playing apps on iPad.

Chuck Bryant: Oh wow.

Josh Clark: And she's like, "No, I don't think we have a scratch guard."

Chuck Bryant: Well, when cats play around like that usually, they don't have the claws out. They're usually just pawing around.

Josh Clark: You hope.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I wouldn't put one on my iPad. No way. I put on the little sticky things. They have clear tapettes that you put on your couch arm. And those are unsightly and collect hair and dust, but it's just one of the things. If you're an animal owner with five animals in your house it's hard to not live with some hair.

Josh Clark: Do you have a Roomba?

Chuck Bryant: Nah.

Josh Clark: You should probably get a Roomba. It might change your life.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I'm in love with my vacuum cleaner, so I feel like that would be cheating on Luxy.

Josh Clark: Nice.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's hard to follow.

Josh Clark: So what else was there? Oh, Jona Goldberg had some words about breeding, especially with the AKC. He compares it to eugenics.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and in fact, he thought it spurred the eugenics movement.

Josh Clark: Yeah, but we were like, "Oh wow, we have this really great dog and we should do this with humans. I'm tired of people with epilepsy. Let's just get rid of them." And of course, you can go back and read - or listen to "Is it legal to sterilize addicts?" That was basically all about eugenics.

Chuck Bryant: That's true. He also contends - not really contends. It's pretty obvious that it's a beauty pageant. They're focusing on these physical attributes. And only the aesthetic matters in his opinion and that's not something - he says, "You know what? If you wanna judge a hunting dog take it out hunting and see how it does there because these dogs have jobs." Most dogs do have a job of some sort and let's see how they do in their job.

Josh Clark: Yeah, that's how you would truly appreciate a breed; not just it's looks. And you mentioned UK's Crufts. England's kennel club runs Crufts. And they do have lots of agility and stuff like that. Apparently, they're criticized for going too far the other way; that they need to bring back more conformation. But yeah, if you go to England and you're into dogs you're gonna be very surprised because their big show doesn't look anything like ours.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, those are the - well, we'll get into agility trials, but is that what they have in there where you're running between the - you're bobbing and weaving and going through the tunnels?

Josh Clark: Yeah, obedience stuff, too. And the AKC has these things; it's just not part of the big one, the Westminster show. But Chuck, you would also probably appreciate England's kennel club maybe more than the AKC because they have something called scruffs.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I wanna see this televised.

Josh Clark: It's basically the Crufts for cross-breed dogs, non-purebred dogs. And it's just adorable that they have this.

Chuck Bryant: And they welcome anything pretty much. Obviously, you have to have your dog trained. You can't just walk up off the street, but as far as breeds go you can enter your dog. The criteria are pretty wide open, and they just look for good temperament, good health and good character, which I like.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: So we talked about agility trials, these are sometimes separate competitions all together. And then, like in England, incorporated into the best-in-show and that's where they're basically doing a little obstacle course.

Josh Clark: Which is adorable.

Chuck Bryant: Off a leash.

Josh Clark: Did you see this picture? That is the cutest picture ever in this article, "How dog shows work." It's just a little terrier jumping over a little post and he's got this look on his face like, "I'm gonna do it!"

Chuck Bryant: He is gonna do it.

Josh Clark: He's got his tail up. Man, that's a cute picture.

Chuck Bryant: And then obedience trials are basically taking commands from the handler like you've gotta be listening to some of the commands or just vocal. Some of them you can't speak at all and you're just using hand gestures, and they're just seeing how well-trained your dog is.

Josh Clark: Right. And the dog can become the champion, which is the national obedience champion, which has got to be kind of a dubious honor among dogs like you're the most obedient dog in all the land. It's kind of like Kurt Russell when he was the star of Disney movies. It's like, "Yeah, you're a movie star, but you're also this clean cut teen idol."

Chuck Bryant: That was great. I remember those.

Josh Clark: And he distanced himself though. He was like, "No, I'm badder than this."

Chuck Bryant: "I'm Snake Plissken."

Josh Clark: Exactly.

Chuck Bryant: Boy, I forgot about those early movies. Those were awesome. I was a big fan of those.

Josh Clark: What was it, The Kid with Two White Shoes or something like that? They were really vanilla.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, they were pretty vanilla. So over the years - we have a few little stats - the breed that has won the most, the fox terrier: 13 times. Not bad. The dog that has won the most was Champion Warren Remedy who was a fox terrier who won three times in a row in early 1900. So that's pretty good.

Josh Clark: Yeah. My favorite's the oldest dog to win, the eight-year-old Papillion who won in 1999, Champion Loteki Supernatural Being.

Chuck Bryant: And the youngest ever was a rough collie named Long Loyalty of Bell Haven and won on its nine month birthday.

Josh Clark: Nine months old.

Chuck Bryant: That's pretty young.

Josh Clark: That makes Bro look like an idiot.

Chuck Bryant: Bro is an idiot. He's loveable though.

Josh Clark: I guess that's about it, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I'm gonna watch this year. I'm gonna - it's appointment TV for me now.

Josh Clark: Good. That is good. I think you'll like it and go on to Twitter and register your anger or your happiness at the winner.

Chuck Bryant: I will do so. I'm gonna live tweet.

Josh Clark: Your thumbs are gonna hurt.

Chuck Bryant: I better get our Twitter login. I don't even know it. Well, you're the Twitter master, obviously.

Josh Clark: I will e-mail it to you. And by the way, our Twitter handle is syskpodcast.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I knew that part.

Josh Clark: Okay, so Chuck, if anybody wants to learn more about best-in-show and dog shows and to see this adorable picture of this terrier jumping in midair - cute picture - you can type in dog shows in the search bar at howstuffworks.com. And since I said search bar in there I imagine it's time for listener mail, but first, Chuck, I feel like we should wish everybody a happy new year.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I hope you had a great 2012. If it wasn't great, here's to better days ahead.

Josh Clark: Very nice. And I want to wish a very, very happy birthday to my sweet and wonderful wife, Umi. Happy birthday, babe.

Chuck Bryant: Happy birthday. That's very sweet.

Josh Clark: Okay, listener mail, huh?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: All right, Josh, I'm gonna call this crying during music and this is from Angela in Columbus, Ohio. Or I should say go buckeyes.

Josh Clark: I think you could also say go blue.

Chuck Bryant: Who's blue?

Josh Clark: Michigan.

Chuck Bryant: Oh. Ooh, tough words. "All right guys, listening to Chuck talk about his experience at Carnegie Hall made me wanna share this story. I heard a story one day about a new musical based on the book, Wicked. And I know we all know this musical now about the Wizard of Oz. I had a soundtrack for about a year before I saw it and then I found out there was a Broadway across America tour coming to Columbus, Ohio. My husband and I bought tickets, went with a group of friends. I had been listening to the soundtrack for about a year as I said, so I was really excited.

So I'm watching the show, really enjoying it and getting swept into the stage production and the acting. The music was better than I even thought it could be. And when they hit the main song, 'Defying Gravity,' sung by Idena Menzel on the soundtrack that's when it happened. I had a Chuck moment, broke down sobbing like a little baby." I like how she called it a Chuck moment. I'm sensitive, but - all right, no biggie.

"The song itself is incredibly moving overall. There's a point in the middle where there's a break from the action and before she hits the third verse she says a few lines, turns the last line into this incredibly cathartic note and takes off in flight. Sitting here remembering it I'm actually choking up. And that's where I could no longer control myself. All through the third verse I was sobbing uncontrollably with loud, gasping sobs.

Both my husband and my brother-in-law offered my comfort, but I could not control myself. I cried through the end of the song and the house lights were coming up for intermission. My husband gave me a hug not really knowing why I was so moved. And I still can't say why. I was a mess and incredibly embarrassed, but it was a beautiful moment for this touching character who speaks to me. PS - and this is from Angela in Columbus - PS I feel a sense of strength in catharsis. Also, currently, while listening to 'Shake It Out' [inaudible].

Josh Clark: Well, that was a specific e-mail.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Thanks for sharing your story. What was that person's name?

Chuck Bryant: Angela.

Josh Clark: Thanks a lot, Angela. We appreciate that. That's pretty cool. So what do you wanna say?

Chuck Bryant: I don't know; dog show stories? What do you think?

Josh Clark: Sure, dog show stories it is. If you wanna get in touch with us about your dog show story you can tweet to us. Remember it's syskpodcast. And of course, we are on Facebook: Facebook.com/stuffyoushouldknow. And you can send us a good old fashioned e-mail to stuffpodcast@discovery.com.

Announcer: For more on this and thousands of other topics visit howstuffworks.com.

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Duration: 42 minutes