Meet the Breeds at                           The National Pet Show

After all the research, planning and excitement at last the day arrived to pack my bags, and get started on our road trip to Birmingham NEC for The National Pet Show.  A little diversion was planned to meet our friends, Jo Vessey and Dylan, who were there to whisk away the girls for a club weekend.  Wow!  Aren’t those golden arches (you know who) eating places busy!


Waving my girls goodbye, Mum and I headed for our hotel, which was simply wonderful.  With loads of car parking for everyone, including spaces for the disabled, the Ibis Styles is in a nice quiet area close to the NEC services buildings.  We were delighted that it was just a two minutes scooter ride (5 minutes walk) to the show venue entry point. 

On Saturday morning, after breakfast and my walk  on the hotel’s secure lawn, off we went to the NEC.  It was a bit tricky for Mum with a scooter and me, as our entry door was a pain to access.  It really needs two people to make scooter access possible, but luckily someone always turned up at just the right time to give us a hand. After taking the lift down to ground level, there was another stupid door, but someone also helped there. Next we were both security checked before being allowd to proceed to the show.  I honestly doubted Mum's sanity getting me up very early, and for what?  Well to get to The National Pet Show by 8.15 a.m. when it did not open till 9.30 a.m. Of course, I should have known that Mother had a plan! 


At this time of morning, the place was empty!  The hall was immense and filled with avenues full of trade stands, plus display and event sections, but very few exhibitors  were to be seen.  It was like the Mary Celeste!

Now it all made sense!  My Mum has such wisdom, as our early start meant I could gradually get used to the activity and noise and not be spooked by it all happening at once had we arrived at 9.30 a.m.  We newshounds are so fortunate to be granted early entry.  


Another thing I needed to get used to was the immensity of the venue, and we covered every inch of it for a full 90 minutes. As the crowds began to pour in, my Uncle Terry put me on the scooter footplate, and there I stayed for most of the day.  Hey, I liked this riding thing, and I felt so safe.   

An additional advantage of coming early was that I had a kind of private viewing of all the stands, and could  cherry pick desired purchases from my list, which was extensive; coat, collar, lead, food, pressies etc.  Sadly not everything was available but I did a really good job of  exceding my allowance! 


Getting to the Dog Village required us to walk through some forbidden areas.  Don't you just love forbidden fruit?!!  Obviously I did not want to frighten other animals, e.g. bunnies, reptiles, guinea pigs, pussy cats etc., but on the way to the Dachshund stand we passed the ponies and donkeys, and I said ‘Hi’ to them, while Mum chatted to their minders.   

Our first official job was to find the Dachshund stand, and meet Terry and Irene Cook, with Andy, who would spend the day telling people about our fantastic breed.  We also spent some time there so people could pat and adore me too.  By the way, I loved licking the creamy residues on the team's pudding plates!

My National Pet Show plan was to look at other breeds, and it was great to see so many different dogs.  There were loads of them, and I loved them all, although I made a speedy escape when  two Leonbergers had an angry exchange right next to me,  Have you seen that breed?  They are huge, and quite soppy although like everyone on the planet, they sometimes can't agree on some things!  But more of them later.  

Our first port of call was the Miniature Schnauzer stand, although the fellow we met was more like a giant version.  He was amazing and kept holding Mum’s hand.  Cheeky if you ask me!  This breed has been known in Germany since the 14th Century and the meaning of the word Schnauzer is ‘whiskered snout’ which describes the harsh coat, bristly whiskers and beard of the breed  If you want to add a Giant Schnauzer to your family you need a pretty big garden because they love to run around.  Originally developed to kill vermin, they later extended their usefulness to pulling small carts, and herding. 

Our next meeting was with a Mum special!  She loves Nordic breeds, and especially wolf-like dogs.  Add in Canada, and she is ecstatic!  You can guess her excitement when a wonderful Canadian Eskimo Dog, one of North America's oldest and rarest remaining purebred indigenous domestic canines wanted to talk to her.  Being working dogs, they love doing their job  and are quick learners so long as training starts early in their lives.  These dogs were originally bred to work pulling sleds, but they have also been used to hunt seals and polar bears.  They can be wary with strangers, but are devoted to their families.  

Another country Mum loves was represented by a national dog.  This time, a Czech dog, the Cesky Terrier attracted her attention.  A small chap with a profusion of fur over his eyes was a real sweetie.  We wondered how he could see through all that thatch, but we are told that from the 16th  century, these and other dogs such as the Skye and Yorkshire terriers have the hair there to protect the eyes whilst hunting. These dogs are not as busy as  most other terriers.  Rather they are laid back, happy little chaps.  If you are house proud, the Cesky Terrier is great, because it does not shed, but will need regular clipping.  They are great family pooches, who will be utterly devoted to their own humans.

Now I’m a big cuddly dog, with loads of magnificent  fur, but I was amazed to see someone with even more fluff to cuddle. Meet the Otterhound!  Wow! Aren’t they wonderful?  Typical hound of course…. an active dog who also takes his rest seriously!  He didn’t actually wake up for us, but that’s OK, I understand.  He’s a country loving fellow, who enjoys being outdoors.   These hunting hounds were born to dive into water, whether it be a lake or a puddle, so it’s handy that he has webbed feet.   Oh yes, and as he is a hound, he needs some firm, fair and kind training, so that he can be the best example of the breed. Since he's a great shedder, I’d say he’s not for the house proud!  

Next we came to a fellow Teutonic breed…. The German Short Haired Pointer.  Sitting proudly together, the two exhibition dogs were incredibly proud and happy to have Mum make a fuss of them.  I wanted to have a woof too, but they just sniffed at me and carried on looking dignified and intelligent.   I’d say these dogs are part of the hunting, shooting and fishing brigade, as they can hunt and retrieve on land or from water.  With an easy care coat, he’s a joy in the home, and loves his family.  This baby needs lots of exercise and mental stimulation to keep him bright and at his best. 

Just around the corner was a spunky little chap, happy to pose in return for food.  This Lancashire Heeler, a UK national breed, was very pleased to see us.  Quite small, he is a great working breed, who also makes a good pet.  In the  past, the Lancashire Heeler was used to drive livestock to market. He was short enough to nip at their heels to move them along and agile enough to leap out of the way if they tried to kick. When he wasn't on the road to the market, he helped out on the farm by catching rats and rabbits.  Now that’s what I call versatile!  This little chap needs a secure garden, where he can have a good old bark!  They are happy with older kids and like Dachshunds need kind, firm and fair trainers to teach them how to be the best they can be.  

Next to them were the Leonbergers, massive working dogs, who are normally gentle giants. Originally from Germany, where he was created through crosses between Newfoundalnds, Longhaired St. Bernards  plus some Great Pyranese, this giant baby looks gorgeous. However, if you are a ‘neatnick’ I’d think twice about taking on this breed, as they shed hair like crazy!  And did I say, they have voracious appetites!  I reckon they’d also need a sizeable garden to play in and an expert to teach them how to behave and be respectful of other dogs because they have a penchant for being naughty.  They are highly intelligent dogs who are great at agility and water rescue work as well as making good PAT dogs.  Just one more thing…. as they are so huge, don’t leave them alone with young children.

If you are into big dogs, then the  Newfoundland Hound might be the right pooch for you.  He was originally used to pull nets for fishermen and haul wood from the forest.  He has webbed feet as he needs to be a good swimmer.  He is still happy to work, but these days is more often engaged in water rescue, saving people in distress in rivers, lakes etc.  The Newfoundland really is a sweet dog who loves children and is naturally gentle and friendly with them, as well as being protective.   Just one more word; if you don’t work these dogs they can become couch potatoes, so it’s good to have an experienced handler to teach them how to be responsible doggy citizens.  I loved his big orange bib that stops him drooling all over his lovely fur.  Yes yes yes!  And look at those big soulful eyes!  

Good Heavens, moving away  from the Newfoundland to my close brothers puts size into proportion!   Yes, I speak of the incredible low riders of great weight….. the Basset Hounds.  There were loads of them doing what we short legged pooches do so well…. Loafing around on cushions and being admired!  Mind you I think our humans enjoy that too.  Mum might well have traded me in, if I had not been good, because she loves Bassets, who are also working hounds with very switched on scent or sight abilities.  They are soppy dogs!  Great with kids, they make lovely family members and need lots of walks and opportunities to exercise their innate traits.  This is vital if you don’t want them to wreck the place if they get bored!  With a long back, comes spinal vulnerability, so their special needs must be catered for.  Oh, and just like us, they are obstinate, so a bit of kind, firm and fair training will be required. 

I was beginning to wonder if I could ever find a dog that Mother does not like.  Well not if there’s a Bracco Italliano about !  Oh she just loves these big hounds with their long ears and gentle facial expression.  This is another working breed who also makes a fantastic family friend.  With his long ears, droopy lips, and soulful expression, the Bracco Italiano has a distinctive look. He is believed to be an ancient breed dating back to the fourth or fifth century BC.  He is a rather sensitive dog, who is incredibly kind and gentle with children.  It is good to know that he is also OK with other dogs,   A generally healthy breed, he can bark or howl a lot, so be prepared for some noise.  He needs a ton of exercise, is highly intelligent, and will need a decent amount of food. 

The final dog we saw on the breed stands was the Cane Corso, This old Italian breed was developed to guard property and hunt big game such as wild boar. He is powerful and athletic and is best suited to an experienced owner who has a large, securely fenced garden.  He needs a lot of exercise, apparently two hours a day.   This dog is another drooler and you might have to put up with his snoring !  Boy, can they snore!  This is a highly intelligent breed,  who is easy to groom, and needs plenty of training to help him be the best he can be.  Because the Cane Corso is a heavy boy, he might be best suited to older children.


One breed we have not mentioned here will be addressed in another article so watch this space!


I wish I’d had the time to see even more of the breeds, but some of the stands were so crowded it was impossible to get near them.  One such was the Dachshund area, where there was a constant stream of visitors on both days.  Of course, I mucked in with representatives of the different Dachshund types and we were all willing to be on show.  We were all eager to let people talk to us, but most of all to enjoy endless pats and, in Andy’s case, belly rubs. 


Our first day was such a success, with dogs, retailers, and interesting things going on, that we went home to our hotel, had our dinner and flopped on our beds and slept.  An exhausting day had been a triumph!  No one expected me to do as well as I did, and without a lie, nearly everyone who saw me thought I was “Stunning”.  I felt it!  With my Lloyd Cross Groom, I was as smart as a new pin, very proud of how good I looked and therefore worthy of that “Stunning” label. 

Because my introduction to big shows had worked so well, we used the the same early morning strategy the next day.   However, I decided I would walk all the time which meant I was soon a very tired boy.  I returned home with some fantastic memories of my wonderful first visit to a major event.  It was a tiring couple of days, so for now I'm off to my personal Hound Hangout for a bit of peace and quiet.  


Please watch out for my next article about the other exciting things I encountered at The National Pet Show.  

Oscar Teckel

Major Events Editor (GB)

5th November 2018

With thanks to my proof reader, Phoebe Foo.

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© Diana Bailey