Fri, 05/31/2024 - 9:10pm

In a Perfect World

Desi Murphy reflects on the 2024 World Dog Show in Croatia

On Facebook and social media, the vast majority of attendees have been so positive about the recent World Dog Show in Zagreb, Croatia. As a spectator, I felt the show was tops in all areas. The committee did everything for the comfort of the dogs and exhibitors.

Most World shows have three to four years to prepare for the gigantic undertaking. The Croatian Kennel Club did not have this advantage. When it became clear that Ukraine could not hold the scheduled event, Croatia stepped up with only about a year to plan and organize a show of more than 15,000 dogs.

The World Dog Show was held Thursday through Sunday, but a national show was held on Wednesday. Over the week many breeds also held specialties. Quite a few breeds were actually shown four times. What was really great was spectators got several chances to see the breeds they were interested in. Also there were some specialty shows held outside the city on different days.

Most people attending the World Dog Show want to see many different breeds. That is one problem with Crufts: A breed is only shown one day, and the larger-entry breeds are in several rings, so you really only see a fraction of a breed being judged.

During the long AKC week in Orlando, we get to see most breeds five times, and some breeds six times. Luckily, at Westminster the entries are not very large, so we get to see a lot of breeds each day. Actually, many people liked it when the breed judging was over three days.

It really was wonderful to see how positive social media was about the World Dog Show. So often Facebook can be so negative about the sport. So many of the positive comments were posted by the leading authorities of the sport worldwide. I myself did not see any negative posts, except one person questioned the quality of some of the judging. At all shows, small or large, this comes into play. I watched judging for four full days, and the majority of judging I watched was accepted well. This happens everywhere, including our Westminster and AKC National Championship show.

The venue in Zagreb basically worked well for the show. The venue consists of mostly very old buildings that needed some updating. A lot of the halls did not have working restrooms, but outside many very nice trailers were brought in, and they were so clean and user friendly, you never had to wait in line. The food concessions for the public were very good and reasonably priced. There were lots of very good restaurants near the hotels that were of top quality, and were so inexpensive compared to the U.S. There were lots of good hotels around 10 minutes from the show by taxi or Uber. Actually, the most walking involved going from one hall to another that was on the far end of the venue. The weather was beautiful; if it had rained, it would not have been easy moving from hall to hall. Many of the exhibitors were able to reserve parking right near the hall they were showing in.

As a whole, the rings were large enough to accommodate the large dogs. The Afghan ring could have been larger for these Sighthounds. It really was not easy for the Afghans, which had wonderful side movement. Even for the smaller breeds, if a class was huge the judges did divide it into two and even three groups.

The main ring was in a newer building that was more modern than most of the other halls. The main ring was huge, and the lighting was great. Actually, most of the halls had good lighting, and they kept them at a very comfortable temperature for the dogs and humans.

When attending World Dog Shows, we get to see friends from all over the world. Even some friends from the States who we rarely get to see at home. This year I was especially lucky to spend some evenings with some very close friends from foreign lands. As we get older, we sometimes do not recognize people we met many, many years ago.

The most rewarding part of the World Dog Show is seeing great dogs from all corners of the globe. Sometimes we have seen pictures or videos, but it is not the same as seeing them in the flesh. I am very old fashioned, and during Covid I would not judge for the virtual dog shows. Often pictures are Photoshopped, and I really do not trust even video, which can be edited to show a dog’s virtues and not its shortcomings.

I was only sorry that over the long four days I did not get to see more breeds. The breeds I watched took up the majority of the day to see from start to finish. On Thursday I spent most of the day watching Afghan Hounds. There were some really nice ones, but I was surprised that there was not more depth of quality. The bitches had more depth than the males.

I spent all Friday morning watching Labradors, which had adjoining rings for dogs and bitches. Dinky Santos did bitches and had been a Lab breeder years ago. Patsy Hollingsworth, who is a very respected Gundog judge, did dogs. Patsy also judged the intersex classes. The overall quality of bitches was very high.

As in all of Europe, the depth of quality was in yellow. There were actually very few black bitches. It is just the reverse of the entries in the Western Hemisphere. The top Lab breeders in the States are making great headway in getting great yellows again. While most of the class winners in bitches were yellow, the exception was the Junior Bitch class, which was won by an extremely beautiful black from the leading kennel in Poland. This breeder has often done extremely well at Potomac, the largest specialty in the world. She is one of the few breeders in Europe who concentrates on blacks. The males were also dominated by the yellows. Some very nice ones, but I thought the quality was deeper in bitches.

I spent one morning watching the two rings of Frenchies. From my seat, I could see the males better than the bitches. I was quite surprised by the quality in males. There were hardly any that were not of very good show quality. The judge had to make cuts in all the classes, and many very nice males did not make the cut in these very strong classes.

A beautiful brindle male was Best of Breed. He also was BOB at the World Show in Geneva. I believe he is six years old and in perfect condition. He is so full of outstanding virtues, and I could not see any shortcomings in him. Sorry he could not be shown in the U.S. due to his weight. FCI allows for a larger Frenchie than the States. The U.S. standard only allows up to 28 pounds, and so many great dogs from FCI countries are over 28 pounds. Many of our Frenchies are right on the line. That is why at our last national, some dogs were weighed out at the regional, but weighed in the next day. One meal can make a big difference in weight. Frenchies are getting stronger all the time.

After watching Frenchies, it was off to another hall to watch Poms being shown at a specialty. Both rings had very good depth of quality. As is always the case, the breed was dominated by the Asian breeders. This is also the case each year at the American national and the all-breed shows in Louisville. It’s interesting because so many of the great Asian Poms go back to dogs from the U.S. or Canada. Today in the States we do not have the kennels that breed a lot of litters each year.

I was pleased to get to see both rings of Bulldogs. I thought there was more depth in bitches. A lot of the males are a bit different than what we see in the Western Hemisphere: larger-bodied dogs with a ton of bone and substance. They would be a bit larger for what we are used to and what our standard calls for in weight. The bitches were more what I am used to seeing. Here in the States, we are seeing some of the very large dogs we saw in the past.

I got to watch some of the Danes and was able to discuss them with John Walsh, “Mr. Dane.” Many were so correct in structure and probably had a bit more substance and bone than the Danes in the States. Some of our Danes are so pretty in outline, but lacking bone and substance. There was a brindle that won under a lady judge that surprised me because it was so American in type.

I was sorry I did not get to see more breeds. I did not even get to see any of the Terrier breeds, especially the Bull Terrier or the Mini Bulls. My good friend Bruce Schwartz, “Mr. Welsh Terrier,” said the Welsh as a whole were quite good. I am glad I got to see so many breeds that I have a great interest in and got to meet many people who were exhibiting lovely dogs.

The 10 regular groups and Junior groups were held in a lovely ring in a newer building of the venue. The Junior Showmanship, Breeders classes, Veterans, etc., were also held in the big ring. This building had bathrooms so you did not have to walk to the trailer facilities.

Everyone agreed the groups were very strong. There were many top-quality dogs that had to go without ribbons in nearly all the groups. The other judges and exhibitors felt the judges judged the groups well. The committee had so many of the most respected judges in the world on the panel. There were judges from every corner of the globe, and a lot of Asian and South American judges. Most World Dog Shows use very few judges from the U.S. This is probably because we are not an FCI country. This year there was not one American judge. Many, many judges from the States come to watch. It was universally agreed that of the 10 groups, the Pointer-Setter group had a few nice dogs, but had the least depth of quality.

With all the very large shows, we hear complaints about everything, mostly exhibitors who did not like the judging. This show seemed to be the exception. Yes, we saw a few negative remarks on Facebook and social media. But the comments about the show were overwhelmingly positive. Hundreds and hundreds of Americans attended and had only good comments to make.

I was so proud that some dogs from the U.S. did so well. The spring show and the World Dog Show were won by the Afghan Hound. She was bred and owned in Chile, but for the last two years has been living with her handler in Miami. She was the number-two all-breed dog in the U.S. for 2023.

At the World Dog Show, the Terrier Group was won by the Scottie, which also went third BIS. He is owned in Thailand but bred and co-owned in the States. He has won big in the Philippines as well as Crufts.

A European Pom that is being campaigned in the States did very well. A Canadian-bred and owned bitch being shown in the States was Best Siberian Bitch. Chinese Cresteds were dominated by a puff and a hairless that Kay Peiser and Virginia Dorris from Florida owned and bred.

Given the small number of breeds I watched, there were probably a lot of dogs from the States that I did not see. A lot of Americans prefer to show at the World Dog Show more than Crufts. Between the national show, the World Dog Show and specialties they get a chance to show three or four times. The WDS gives the dogs several chances to win big and also more chances to get titles, compared to only once at Crufts.

The Croatian Kennel Club has to be congratulated on staging one of the very best World shows ever. They made every little detail perfect for all.



© Dog News. This article may not be reposted, reprinted, rewritten, excerpted or otherwise duplicated in any medium without the express written permission of the publisher.

Stay Connected

YES! Send me Dog News' free newsletter!