Many many years ago I saw a website for German Shepherd Dogs that included this phrase, "The V is the key!". This was long before I started showing dogs, but it always stuck in my mind.
The V ratings are for adult dogs and the SG ratings are for puppies. The ratings are used in International style dog shows here in the USA as well as in many other countries. A V rating is different than any other type of win in the dog show ring. A V rating is how that judge feels your dog stands up against the breed standard. This includes conformation, temperament, health, training and overall impression of the dog. A V1 rating is the best a dog can receive, followed by V2 and V3. These ratings are not simply handed out. The judge must be able to go over the entire dog and evaluate all aspects of the dog. It's about more than winning your class or your breed in that show, it's about how that dog stacks up to the breed standard rather than how the dog stacks up to the competition or lack of competition that day.
We love the International style dog shows and show often with IABCA because we love getting actual feedback on our dogs, which helps us make choices in our breeding program. Each judge who evaluates the dog fills out information regarding all important aspects of that dog. Many of the judges spend time going over what they are finding great or not so great about the dog in front of them. These forms can be reviewed later to help us make good choices in our breeding plans for our next generation.
Dogs can be titled in many different ways. There are conformation show titles, titles for being good canine companions, titles for working in so many different performance venues. If you are looking for a purebred dog, then titles do matter.
People look for a purebred dog because they like the traits of the breed. Not all puppies that are registered as a certain breed with grow up to have those traits. When breeders show their dogs, they are getting an unbiased view of their dogs. We prefer the Euro style dog shows for that reason, every time we leave the ring with our dogs we have a written critique of our dogs. These critiques help us to notice faults we may have overlooked and make good breeding choices.
Working titles can help show so many things. Just like conformation titles, they show that the breeder is active with their dogs. They are not simply kennel dogs used for breeding. Working titles can show overall activity as well as give credit to the dog being able to perform the tasks the breed was intended for.
Although we show our dogs, we realize that most people are simply looking for a family companion. We do not expect most people who get our dogs will follow through with showing them and we do not require that. We show our dogs because we like doing so and to help us make the best choices with our breeding program.
Not just a brag, not just a stepping stone to a higher title, not just an adjunct to competitive scores, a title is a tribute to the dog that bears it, a way to honor the dog, an ultimate memorial. It will remain in record and in memory for as long as anything in this world can remain. Few humans will do as well or better in that regard.
And though the dog itself doesn't know or care that its achievements have been noted, a title says many things in the world of humans, where such things count.
A title says your dog was intelligent and adaptable, and good-natured. It says that your dog loved you enough to do the things that please you, however crazy they may have sometimes seemed.
And a title says that you loved your dog, that you loved to spend time with it because it was a good dog, that you believed in it enough to give it yet another chance when it failed, and that, in the end, your faith was justified.
A title proves that your dog inspired you to that special relationship enjoyed by so few; that in a world of disposable creatures, this dog with a title was greatly loved, and loved greatly in return.
And when that dear short life is over, the title remains as a memorial of the finest kind, the best you can give to a deserving friend, volumes of pride in one small set of initials after the name.
A title earned is nothing less than love and respect, given and received, and permanently recorded.