To Show Your Mastiff Or Not To Show.....

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There’s more than one choice

The best way to learn about your Mastiff and meet people who can help you get started is to join your regional breed club (Southern States Mastiff Fanciers) and national breed club (Mastiff Club of America).  Our members have years of experience with Mastiffs and are eager to share.  They are a priceless asset to any first-time Mastiff owner and a life-long source of knowledge and support thereafter.  In many cities and towns, you will also find local all-breed clubs.  In the meantime, here are some other more general tips to getting started.   

How do I start to show my dog?

If you have purchased a “show” quality dog, your best resource for learning how to begin showing will be the dog’s breeder.  If you can’t contact the breeder or he/she is unable to provide any assistance, go to one of the superintendent web sites (listed below) and locate a show in your area. 

A week or so before the show is to be held, the actual judging schedule will also be posted and you will be able to see the actual time and ring number for Mastiff judging. 

Be at the show well in advance of your breed’s ring time so that you can introduce yourself and find some participants who might be willing to share some advice or act as mentors.  (Don’t approach people who are grooming or prepping their dogs or appear to be anxiously awaiting the entry of their breed into the ring and, especially, don’t try to engage them during judging.)  

After your breed’s judging is over, find the superintendent’s desk and ask for brochures or other basic information about showing and how to get started.  

How can I find where/when dog shows are being held in my area?

The easiest way to find out about upcoming shows is to visit the web sites of the various show superintendents.  A superintendent is an organization charged with the responsibility of setting up and organizing AKC events and reporting the results to AKC.  Generally, superintendents cover limited geographic areas.  In the southeast, the primary dog show superintendents are MB-F ( and Onofrio ( and Kevin Rogers ( .

What is a handler?  Do I need one?  How do I find one?

Nothing is as highly prized in the world of dogs as a dog that has been “owner-handled” to its championship.  It’s double the pride for an owner to have accomplished this goal through hard work and without professional assistance.  Still, many people prefer to have a professional handler train their dog and show it in the ring.  There are several ways to find a good professional handler.  The best way to find a handler for your Mastiff is to visit several local shows and watch who is handling Mastiffs in the ring, making note of those you think are especially good or might work well with your particular dog.  Ask competitors sitting ringside what handlers they use and why.  After the competition is over, if the handler appears to be free, approach him/her, briefly introduce yourself as a new Mastiff owner, and ask for a business card.  If the handler has few moments to spare between rings, they may take time to answer a few questions.  Another place to look for professional handlers is the Professional Handlers Association (  Just as some Mastiff breeders have not joined their regional or national breed clubs, however, many good handlers have not joined the Professional Handlers Association.

What sort of activities will I see at an AKC show?

Generally, AKC shows have conformation competition (like the Westminster or Eukanuba shows you may have seen on television, but on a smaller and more casual scale), along with obedience and agility competitions.  You might also see puppy versions of these same events or other non-competitive or “fun” events.

My Matiff is not a “show dog”.  What other activities are available?

Many dogs that are not considered “show dogs” will excel at obedience, agility, rally, therapy or one of the many other activities available.  Many people enjoy the fact that spayed and neutered dogs are eligible to participate in these activities, whereas dogs competing in conformation (show ring) must be intact.  In addition, owners often report that they feel a greater spirit of camaraderie and fun than they do competing in the more competitive conformation events.

Following are some links to get you started on just a few of the other activities available to you and your dog.  As you begin to get involved and meet more people, you will find many more opportunities in your area – Frisbee, Fly-ball, Herding, Carting, Tracking, Therapy Dog, Search & Rescue… the opportunities are endless.  (Mastiff owners are always open to new ideas for activities suited to a Mastiff’s unique personality.  You could probably find enough eager participants in your area to form several teams of talented Marshmallow Catchers.)   Just look around.  Eventually, you and your dog will find the activity that’s just right for you