The Costs of Showing a Dog

For anyone who might be wondering about the costs of showing a dog, I thought I’d give you the breakdown of all the costs that might be involved.  It is important to know what you are getting into because breeders who sell you a show dog will expect you to live up to your end of the bargain by pay whatever costs are involved in finishing your dog’s championship.


If you really want to get a dog to show you should invest in books, magazines and a membership to a local or the national breed club.  This is the least of your expensive, but one of the most important.  Make sure you know what you are getting into before you even think about purchasing a puppy.  Most breeds have online resources and email lists as well, but as a newcomer it can be interesting trying to find a breeder that will talk to about showing a dog.  It is a good idea to attend a local dog show and meet breeders in the breed you are interested in.  You might find that people are much more willing to talk to you in person (as long as it’s a good time).  Remember that handlers are very busy before they go into the ring at the show and not everyone who’s showing a lab owns and knows a great deal about the breed.  Professional handlers are probably going to be far less likely to want to talk to you about a breed they don’t know than a breeder-owner-handler that dedicates their life to that one breed.

The Dog

A nice show quality dog can take a while for find and even longer to find a breeder willing to give you an intact, show dog if you’ve never shown one before.  A show dog is probably going to cost somewhere between $1200 to $3000.  Many breeders will not sell you a show dog without a co-ownership and may or may not be willing to reduce the price based on the terms of the contract.  In other words, the contract may be in name alone or it may give the breeder future breeding rights to your dog in which case they may be willing to reduce the selling price.

Grooming Supplies

You will need to groom your new show dog at home and before shows.  Even when you’re not showing you’ll want to keep the nails short, the coat in good condition and the ears clean and free of hair that might block the ear and cause ear infections.  This will require at least investing in a small pair of shears, a dremel or nail clippers and ear cleaner.  When showing your dog, the grooming supplies needed will vary based on the breed, but some of the other things you might want to invest in are a grooming table, clippers, thinning shears, a doggie hair dryers and a tack box to keep all the supplies in.  You can probably count on needing to spend at least $500-$1000 in grooming supplies when you first start out.

Handling Classes

If you plan to show your own dog, you definitely want to take handling classes to prepare for the real thing.  No amount of reading can teach you to be a good handler, but conformation handling classes are a great start for you and your dog.  Even if you don’t plan to show your dog yourself, these classes are a great foundation for your dog to learn want it needs to do in the ring.

Entry Fees

Entry fees vary widely depending on what shows you enter, but right now they typically vary somewhere between $25 and $32.  Showing at larger shows like Westminster will cost more.  I have seen entry fees steadily increase throughout the years and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.  This is the bare minimum cost for every show you enter after paying for your dogs and grooming supplies.

Professional Handler

If you decide not to show your dog yourself and want to hire a professional handler, you can expect to pay them $50 to $85 per show.  Handlers typically charge a boarding fee for each day they have your dog.  That’s usually around $10 a day and they may charge grooming fees if they need to groom your dog for you.

Professional handlers change their client a portion of their travel expenses, such as gas and hotels.  They will also charge extra for specialties where only your breed or group are shown.  If your dog finishes it’s champion and you decide to special your dog in the best of breed class handler will charge you extra bonuses for big wins like group placements and best in show.

Other Costs

If you decide to show your dog yourself or accompany them to all of their shows, your travel and lodging expenses can really add up.  You will need a hotel room for any shows that are too far from home to travel back and forth and you will also need to pay for meals away from home and gas to get to each show.

You will want to take a folding wire crate with you to give your dog a safe place to go if you have to leave them in the grooming area for any length of time. The crate cost will vary depending on the size you need to buy for your dog, but they are typically $50-$150.

You should bring a folding chair with you to the shows for when you aren’t showing.  At some indoor shows folding chair may be supplies, but for any shows that don’t and especially for outdoor shows you are going to want to bring a chair to give yourself a rest from standing around all day. Fabric travel chairs are typically $10-$15.

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