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Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  838 ratings  ·  111 reviews
A veteran magazine journalist captures the idiosyncratic world of professional dog showing, from the local competitions held in florescent-lit school gymnasiums to the granddaddy of them all, The Westminster Dog Show, as he follows a lovable novice dog through his inaugural year in competition.
Hardcover, 393 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by It Books
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  838 ratings  ·  111 reviews

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Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Since Tom and I and our current Best In Show Dog, Gr. Ch. CR Wicca's Trade Secret (Trader)and our handlers, Heather Bremmer and Kevin Bednar, are in this book, I have to give it 5 stars!!
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What an enjoyable read! Interspersed with chapters about the dog on the cover (Jack, an Australian Shepherd) and his quest to win Champion and then Grand Champion status (while remaining a pet, no less)are chapters about the history of dog shows, the history of dogs, and tidbits about dogs. It read so quickly! And I was sorry when it was over. You can't really ask for more from a non-fiction book. Even if you don't *LOVE* dogs, this might appeal to you.
Isaak Bonilla
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was AWESOME. It gave me a completely different perspective as to how the dog show world works for people who dont normally get to show. It also gave me a nice refresher as to what the breed standard is, as after a while a forgot a lot about it. Finally, gives a nice history of the breed, as i probably wouldnt have been able to learn that information without having read this.
S. Lilly
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for anyone entertaining the idea of showing their dog and has very, very deep pockets. Having grown up spending just about every bloody weekend at a dog show from infancy to about age 12 - (my father bred herding/working dogs)...well let's just say this book offers the insight, costs, conflicts and joys of showing dogs. It clearly explains why - you cannot make money breeding and raising show dogs even if you're in the top 20 of your breed. This is something I have been tell ...more
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Jack is a show dog, owned by a newcomer to the dog-show world. He lives mostly with his owner, but is mostly shown by a professional handler, and thus straddles the gap between the total show dog, and family pet.

Jack fairly easily earns his AKC Championship - perhaps too easily - but falters some in his climb up the rankings. This book follows Jack on his year or so on the circuit. Along the way we meet some great dogs, and learn a lot about purebred dogs and the history of the sport of showing
Becky Hummer
I am determined to finish this book as I really want to learn all about the show world. However I am finding it very difficult to keep my interest. I am finding that the show world is very complicated and although this book is helping me some I believe if you want to learn it would be better to get involved in the world personally. I have started helping a friend as she shows her beautiful Yorkies and chasing the points for their championship. Even she says she doesn't know everything. It has be ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it liked it
By the end, I knew more about Jack -- the show dog on the cover -- and his show history than I cared to know. Some judicious pruning of Jack's efforts would have made for a tighter book. The parts about dog shows, however, were quite interesting, and that's why I picked the book up in the first place.
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As an avid dog show person (my gig is agility and obedience instead of conformation,) I thought this book was fantastic. It was a very truthful and fun window into the world of dog showing. I think it is a must read for anyone who is thinking about stepping into the world of AKC conformation for the first time. Even if you're not an aspiring owner/ people will enjoy this read.
I Loved this book! I really enjoy reading about the personal experience of someone and their pet,especially when it includes breed specific info, as this book did.

I also enjoyed the bits about other breeds and specific dogs.

A wealth of information about showing dogs, as well.
Jan 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Didn't finish. Not nearly as interesting as I hoped.
Aug 09, 2013 added it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Too many snarky comments from the author.
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Every now and then I will Google "books about dogs"... I'm usually disappointed. I've read most of what looks interesting to me (not really looking for fiction) and it seems to be slow-growth genre. But about one year ago I entered the world of dog shows and when I saw this book (even though I have a dog in the working group and there's a herding dog on the cover) I thought, "Why not? This is right up my new alley."

I don't know about the rest of you, but I collect books much faster than I manag
Denise Terry
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I started out with really high hopes for this book. I love dogs. I love watching dog shows. I even have enjoyed the handful of dog shows I have attended. I had a really hard time staying with the book once I got about 1/3 of the way through it. I would put it down and have to force myself to pick it back up. Maybe my expectations of the book were off and I never recovered. But I think the more likely reason is that I was looking for a story focused on the people and the dogs, specifically Jack, ...more
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading "Show Dog" but I think it is because I was extensively involved in the show world myself, albeit with pedigreed cats in C.F.A. (the cat world's equivalent of the A.K.C.) I had also visited a few dog shows over the years, so I was familiar with what goes on at dog shows. However, even if you have never been involved with showing pedigreed cats or dogs, I think that "Show Dog" will give you some interesting insights into the dog show world. If you've ever visited a dog sho ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazon Prime First Reads

If this book handy been offered as a Prime First reads, I would have missed it. I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at the crazy would of dog shows and owning a show dog. It's not for the faint of heart nor for anyone who doesn't want to spend money and time doing it. Such an endeavor is all consuming. I own alpacas and such a lifestyle requires support, if not family participation .

Dean writes very well and I enjoyed his humor. This book did not disappoint.

PS no profani
Rita Ciresi
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I started thumbing through this book as research for something I was writing, and instantly got hooked. It's a charming, well-written, and informative look at the whole dog show phenomenon, with lots of interesting tidbits about the history of showing and breeding. You can't help but cheer for the main character, Jack--a beautiful but naughty Australian Shepherd who loses as much as he wins. So enjoyable!
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dogs, non-fiction
While I found the book entertaining in spots, as a person that has been an owner-handler, I was a little disappointed that the book focused on a dog that has a professional handler. I did appreciate learning more about it, but not everyone, as pointed out in the book, can afford a professional handler.

It would be nice to see a similar book that does focus on the struggles of the owner-handler.
Sassafras Lowrey
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love this book. I as skeptical because people who aren't of the dog world writing about the dog world - and specifically the world of dog shows? But this book did it and did it well. An absolutely enjoyable read, and probably the best dog book written by a non-dog person i've ever read. if you are curious about the world of dog shows this is a great (and sometimes funny) introduction!
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, animals
A great layman's introduction to the dog show world. This documentary-style book was entertaining and very readable, with just enough technical details to make it educational as well. I especially enjoyed the brief spotlights on various breeds and their history. Fun read!
Sara Goldenberg
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not a dog person but somehow this book showed up on a list of interesting books so I borrowed it from the library. It was SO interesting - a glimpse into a world I'll probably never see otherwise!

It was well written and cute illustrations too!
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Huge book. Kind of slow at times, but definitely a fun book.
Mary Ronan Drew
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ah, show dogs! The prima donnas of the canine world (and that includes the males.) I picked up this newly published book in hopes a little dog show reality would help me get over my crush on Westminster's 2012 Best in Show, Malachy. This Pekingese, as Josh Dean says, is an animal that appears to be a Pac Man ghost bred to an angora goat and looks pretty much like Cousin It from the Addams Family. What better way to take my mind off Malachy than to read a book about Jack, an Australian Shepherd, ...more
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I do have to say I am partial to dogs. Long ago I grew up with shelties (that would be Shetland Sheepdogs) and some of them had been show dogs but were given to us in retirement. While I no longer have dogs due to my life style and I am currently owned by cats (one being a purebred Abyssinian who just wasn’t good enough for the cat shows) someday I want to have another dog. Now, I always thought it would be a sheltie but after reading this book I am almost sold on an Aussie – otherwise known as ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: journalism, dogs
I absolutely adored this book. Dean is the perfect interloper into the strange, intense, awesome world of dogs. He writes about conformation, but I think that those of us involved in agility, rally-o, obedience, tracking, hunting, herding, schutzhund, search and rescue, earth dog, flyball, disc, dock diving, and lure coursing will also find quite a few of our people here.

It would have been easy to write a book to appeal to the outsider, spending 400 pages on how the sport of conformation works a
Lily A. Mell
Mar 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reality, humor
Show Dog is a highly informative and clever book chronicling around 2 years in the life of a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd, GCh Wyndstar's Honorable Mention - more commonly known as Jack. Josh Dean not only tells of experiences at Jack's various shows, but also devotes a chapter to the evolution of the purebred dog and another to Mr. Wheeler, the famous blogger that created Dog Show Poop, a popular Dog Show blog.
He explains in detail the ways of Judges, Professional Handlers (which is a job, b
Christie Bane
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved this book, because it covers in depth two subjects near and dear to my heart: dog shows and Australian shepherds. The author basically follows a top show dog around for a couple of years, and gets to know his owner, his breeder, his handler, and various other people involved with show dogs. If you have any background, involvement, or interest in purebred dogs and dog shows, I can't imagine that you would not love this book. It's very well-written, and the author has, I think, an extremel ...more
Joan Colby
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
The book follows the career of Jack, an Australian Shepherd in AKC conformation showing; giving a thorough (sometimes too much so) look at what some would see as a subculture devoted to breeding and exhibiting perfect canine specimens. As one who has trained and shown obedience competitors, I confess to a prejudice against conformation shows believing the emphasis on looks has in many cases created extremes that result in dogs who can’t breathe, procreate naturally and are prone to inheritable d ...more
Cyndie Courtney
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
A fascinating view into the world of dog showing especially from my perspective as a vet.

As a veterinarian some of the things described made me cringe - such as people feeding their dogs whole orders of Chicken McNuggets or attaching heavy magnets to their dogs ears. (Please don't try at home!)

Overall it helped me better understand how people may get drawn into showing in the first place and why it can be so addictive. I could totally see myself getting sucked into the cycle of victory and disa
I'd really give this 4.9 stars because it's a REALLY good book. I was extremely skeptical as a)a handler, b)a dog lover, and c)someone who hated with a passion, Best in Show . So having USA Today calling it the print version of that horrible movie, I was really skeptical but I wanted to read it because I have handled before and wanted to see how bad it was... Turns out Dean is a decent guy who did his research (though I will say he did get a few things wrong: Missed several breeds that have t ...more
Oct 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A really interesting read about campaigning a dog in the crazy world of dog shows. Dean manages to balance the history of showing, and of various breeds, with great insight into the owners/handlers/backers of these dogs, and the dogs themselves. Lots of good insider info into just how time-consuming (and expensive!) it is to get a dog to the highest level, and he doesn't make the mistake of turning the whole thing in to a freak show; it's a respectful look at the people who earn their livings in ...more
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Josh Dean is a New York based journalist whose work has appeared in Popular Science, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, GQ, Men's Journal, Rolling Stone, Inc., Fast Company, ESPN the Magazine, and many others, covering subjects as diverse as pee wee go-kart racing, snowboarding in Iran, the byzantine world of small production watchmakers, and a start-up nuclear fission company. He is a correspondent for Outs ...more

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