Ron Menaker, Chairman of the American Kennel Club, writes in the September 2016 AKC Gazette that dog shows are in decline.
[T]he trends over the past ten years show us that Conformation is in a tenuous position. “The graying of the Sport” has become something of a buzzword in recent years, but we know that the issue is far more complex than the simple fact of an aging population. As a community, we need to take a close look at what is happening within Conformation, and work together to find solutions. I would like to take this opportunity to show you where things stand today and describe the work that is being done to address the matter head on. And, just as importantly, I would like to ask you to think about how you can help as well.
The numbers show a pretty clear picture.
All-breed and conformation entries have been falling over the past ten years.
Fewer conformation championships have been earned.
Every year, fewer dogs are exhibited in conformation.
Why is this happening?
Yes, we’re getting older. At least some of us are! Our constituents have told us about other reasons too. Concerns about judging, perceptions of professionalization of the sport and busier lives with more choices are some of the challenges we face.
Other factors certainly include cultural pressures and their resulting canine legislation. We all know that the animal rights movement has waged a war against breeding and purebred dogs for decades now. Zoning laws keep some of us from owning as many dogs as we would like to maintain our breeding programs. The Internet age has created a proliferation of platforms that play host to “keyboard warriors” engaged in all manner of debate, often anonymous and not constructive.
Fundamentally, the American public’s understanding of conformation is limited to what they see on television two or three times a year. Recent focus groups revealed that we have a long way to go when it comes to educating the average dog owner.
AKC registrations have been in free-fall for 30 years, and dog shows have been in decline for nearly two decades despite the AKC adding new events and new breeds with the fever of the damned.
The AKC has tried to "partner" with price-gouging veterinarians and dubious pet insurance companies, and they have tried to market everything from "activity trackers" to plush toys and random boxes of useless pet store crap sold on a monthly subscription basis.
What they have NOT tried is producing better dogs by opening up the registries, jettisoning breeds centered on defect and deformity, requiring health tests and certifications, and requiring field performance test for working dogs.
What they have not tried is banning professional handlers who use their personal friendships (and more) to get judges to place their dogs in front of those with less cash to throw at the problems.
The AKC still believes it can build its business on selling defective products to ribbon-chasers and pretenders.
And, of course, their choices are not to blame. Instead, it's the mysterious "animal rights movement," of which I have never met a single member while in the field hunting, or at a restaurant eating a steak, or at a grocery store buying chicken.
Never mind that we have hunting magazines on every news rack, and five or six hunting shows on cable television, and fast food meat palaces on every corner, somehow the "animal rights" folks are to blame for the AKC's decline.
Right. And the band played Waltzing Matilda as the Titanic sank beneath the waves.
Never mind that there are more dogs in America today than any any time in U.S. history.
Never mind that Americans are spending more money on dogs than ever before
The AKC is pretty sure it's not them in bad odor,. I mean, how could it be?
Does anyone in American know more about dogs than the AKC?
Not if you ask them! And the band played Waltzing Matilda as the Titanic sank beneath the waves.