Man’s best friend is about to take over the Lebanon Valley Expo Center.

About 130 different dog breeds and their handlers will strut their stuff during the Lancaster Kennel Club’s Red Rose Classic Dog Show on May 11 at the Expo Center. 

“That’s about two-thirds of the breeds the American Kennel Club recognizes,” said Dave Martin, president, LKC. “You’re never going to see that many different dogs, types of breeds, by going to the park on a weekend. To see all of these different breeds is an opportunity too.” 

The show will have several components for the public to view, added Martin, with the events being spread throughout the Expo Center. Admission is $5 per car with gates opening at 7 a.m. for the 9 a.m. show. The public is invited to attend the pre-show grooming at the grounds.

“Conformation,” or breed judging, Rally Trials, youth handling and a puppy competition are the main events during the show, according to Marin. 

The “Conformation” portion of the program involves the physical judging of the canines. The 130 different breeds fall within one of seven breed groups and animals are judged within their own group.

“The American Kennel Club has standards for every breed and it has to do with color, size, weight, stance, markings, it’s varied in the breeds,” added Martin. “The judges are familiar with the standard for the breed they are judging and judge the dog against the standard, not the other dogs. The judges have a scale, certain points for certain traits, and then the one that is the best, has the highest score, wins the breed.” 

Australian Terriers are one of about 130 breeds expected to enter the Lancaster Kennel Club’s dog show this Saturday at the Lebanon Valley Expo Center. (Provided photo)

Martin said the judges really must be well versed in the various breeds within a given grouping. He used an example of a beagle to explain the process for that breed, which happens to be the hound group. There are a total of 500 entries for this show, added Martin.

“You see quite a different discrepancy because we have about 20 different breeds within each group,” said Martin. “Take the hound breed. The judge that is the hound group judge has to be familiar with a whole bunch of standards dealing with hounds. They will pick the top hound as the group winner.”

Once the seven dogs chosen from their respective groupings are selected, they all advance to the next round of judging, which is Best in Show. There, the Best in Show and a reserve winner, or runner-up, will be named.

“Our Best in Show last year was a Bernese Mountain Dog and the reserve was a Scottish Terrier,” said Martin.

Another competition that puts a dog’s discipline to the test is the Rally Trials, which is a companion event.

“The handler takes the dog through a defined series of directions. If I was showing my dog, I will start with my dog and there will be a sign on the floor. It will say move forward. The next sign will say sit. Then they have to sit,” said Martin. “You can use verbal commands, sometimes you can use hand commands. The dog is judged on how well it listens to the commands.”

Martin added this is a timed event and that each animal is awarded points based on how well it listens to its handler.

“If there is a tie at the end of the competition, then the dog that took the least amount of time to get through the course gets the title,” said Martin.  

Junior handlers, for youth ages 9 to 17, will also showcase their talents in the competition ring.

“We will have young people showing,” said Martin. “They may have their own dog; they may have someone else’s dog. If that is what they want to do, it will help keep the sport going. There are handlers, in their 20’s, 30’s, 50’s and 70’s. You’ve got to keep renewing interest with people showing off their dogs and it helps keep the sport going.”

Junior handlers will show dogs during Lancaster Kennel Club’s Red Rose Classic this Saturday at the Lebanon Valley Expo Center. (Provided photo)

Martin said a fan favorite is the puppy competition. 

“It’s fun to watch because there’s going to be a four- to six-month-old puppy class, and there are 15 puppies registered for that,” said Martin. “It’s fun to watch because sometimes it is the first time the puppy has been in the ring and, as you know, a five-month-old puppy has no concentration, so that is fun to watch.”

Martin provided some pointers to first-time dog show attendees.

“Watch the handler, see how they interact with the dog with hand signals. They may get them to move a certain way with a treat,” said Martin. “Watch the judge and look at what they are doing. They look at the teeth. The dogs have to be intact. They will go over their body, looking for a certain texture to the coat or the build of the dog. The judges are so experienced that they ever have to get a ruler out to measure the height, but that could happen. There is also a steward who is assisting the judge, keeping track of all of the paperwork and the scores. In the rally, watch the person and how the dog interacts with them.”

This is the 22nd year the club has held its show at the Lebanon Expo Center. Although based in Lancaster County, the club moved one of its two annual shows to the Lebanon Valley following a particularly bad weather year. (The events in 2020-2022 were canceled due to the pandemic.)

“It was an outdoor show, so it was weather dependent,” said Martin. “It was a rainy day, that was well before my time, in the late 90s, but it was a real mud hole because of the rain. Club members started looking for another location and 1999 was our first year at the Expo Center.” 

Over the past two decades, the center has become a home away from home for the Lancaster Kennel Club, which became incorporated in 1943 and has roots dating back to 1914.

“(Expo Center director) Pat Kerwin is great to work with and we know that the facilities are quality and well maintained,” said Martin. “We also don’t have to worry about weather issues since the events are held indoors. Other shows are held there, so people know about it. It’s also easy to get to, and there’s nothing in Lancaster County that is comparable or reasonably priced for us.”

If You Go: Here is the schedule of events for the show (PDF). 

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James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...


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