A Review of the IABCA 2014 Buckeye State Sieger
Have you heard of the International All Breed Canine Association (IABCA)? Chances are you haven’t unless you involved in dog showing, and even then IABCA might not be on your radar. I certainly hadn’t heard about them until I saw that the Gem City Dog Obedience Club (one of the most popular venues for dog shows in the Greater Dayton area) was hosting an IABCA show in January – the 2014 Buckeye State Sieger show. So what is IABCA? They seem to be an organization formed solely to promote and hold dog show competitions – and they’ve been doing it for over 25 years. They are also focused on the European Sieger style of dog shows which varies considerably from how an American Kennel Club (AKC) or United Kennel Club (UKC) type competition is run. Among other differences, in a Sieger style event, judges will spend much more time with each dog, and the owner is actually provided a written critique – which is very attractive since in many shows you never really get any insight into what the judge is actually thinking. I’ve only been doing dog shows since last Summer when we bought our Rottweiler puppy Zeus. In that time we’ve done we’ve done four UKC shows, and one Rottwiler Klub of North America (RKNA) show – the latter of which was a Sieger style event. The breed specific RKNA show was by far the most enjoyable of the shows we had done prior to the IABCA show – it was very laid back (casual dress) and was held outdoors. So I was pretty excited to attend our first IABCA show.
The 2014 Buckeye State Sieger was held over a weekend with two showings each day (Saturday and Sunday) so each dog would compete a total of four times. We registered both of our Rottweiler puppies (Zeus and Maximus) in the show – Zeus entered in the 6-9 month Junior Puppy Class, while Maximus competed in the Baby Puppy 3-6 month class. The competition has two different components – the dogs are competing both with each other and themselves. Each competing dog will receive a rating based on how well the dog conforms to breed standards(SG1 being the best/highest for a puppy), and each dog will also be competing for placement (first, second, or third place) against the other competitors in the class. The first place winner of each age category will then go on to compete for the “Best of Breed” award.
Any event held in Ohio in January may have to contend with some snow, and that was certainly the case for this year’s Buckeye State Sieger. So my first recommendation to IABCA is that they move the date of this show – if they’re only going to hold one IABCA show in the Dayton area (and I wish they’d hold more) then can we please have it in the Spring or Fall? Hauling cages and equipment into a show on snow and ice, and taking dogs on potty breaks in temperatures in the teens is no fun. Outside the weather, the show was very enjoyable. Here’s a few photos of my wife and I showing our Rottweiler puppies:
For a novice handler like myself, one of the appealing aspect of a Seiger style show is the allowance of double handling – this particular convention allows for a second handler (usually outside the ring) to assist with showing a dog. The person outside the ring usually uses toys or bait to hold the dog’s attention, allowing the person inside the ring to more easily stack the dog. Plain and simply put, I stink at stacking at dog. So when we did an RKNA show last year, the ability to double handle made it MUCH easier for a complete novice like myself to show my own dog (as opposed to having my breeder show my dog). Unfortunately, this IABCA event wasn’t really a true Sieger style event – no double handling was allowed. Still, it quickly became apparent to me that because my wife and I were competing in puppy classes, and the judges recognized our inexperience (it wasn’t hard to notice…) we received a great deal of support and advice from the judges. In fact, probably the best thing I can say about my experience at this IABCA event was how helpful and supportive the judges were. After showing your dog, each exhibitor would sit down and talk with the judge while they did they completed their evaluation. The judges told us what they liked and what they didn’t like about our dogs – very helpful information. At the end of their evaluation, their written critique was provided:
The written evaluations really are simply one person’s opinion of your dog’s physical characteristics and attributes – and in some cases, those opinions will vary wildly from judge to judge. That’s certainly not unique to IABCA – you see the same thing in AKC, UKC, etc. The difference is that the degree of variance between judges is much easier to see in an IABCA show because you have their written evaluations. Take my dog Zeus’s head for example: Three out of four of the judges had positive remarks about his head with comments like “nice broad head” and “nicely formed/correct.” But one of the judges told me Zeus needed “more width.” So as I studied the written evaluations, I tried not to place too much weight or emphasis on any one judge’s critique or comments and instead looked for trends.
Interestingly enough, the Rottweiler was the most well represented breed at this event, with 18 total Rottweilers competing. Despite that fact, my dog Zeus ran unopposed in the Junior Puppy Class, and won first place by default in all four showings:
He also was awarded an “SG1” rating by all four judges, which in the puppy classes was the highest possible rating. With each SG1 rating awarded, an “orange card” is awarded to the exhibitor. With three orange cards, the dog receives a National Championship title for their age class, and a fourth orange card will earn their dog its International Champion title. Both Zeus and Max received SG1 ratings in each of the four showings, so both received their National and International titles:
Based on the research I did, IABCA has a bit of a reputation for having a rather low bar to cross for dogs to receive championship titles – and based on what I saw at the 2014 Buckeye State Seiger, I’d have to agree. As far as I could tell, ALL of the 18 Rottweilers who entered in the show earned their National and International titles that weekend because each judge in all four showings felt that each Rottweiler there conformed to breed standard. But remember, the rating (which is the key to titles in IABCA) is just one component to the competition. Zeus competing for Best of Breed in all four shows and was beaten all four times. Maximus mustered one third place finish in the 3-6 mo. Baby Puppy Class (which had the most entries for the breed at that show) and never even competed for Best of Breed in his age category. And that was pretty consistent with the few other shows we’ve had them in where neither has ever had a first place finish. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I’ve thought about it considerably and determined it’s neither. Instead, I think it’s a fun thing. Dog shows can be a lot of work and expense…and so far in our short dog showing careers, we’ve done….OK. Several 2nd and 3rd place ribbons and awards. Why? Well, partially because of our inexperience as handles no doubt. But also because, being completely objective here, we don’t have the best dogs in the world. Our goal when we bought our dogs wasn’t to get show winning dogs. Getting into dog shows was sort of an after thought for us – we don’t ever envision going to Westminster. So going to an IABCA show for us was a breath of fresh air from that perspective. It was casual (no tie or skirt required), it was fun, and we came away winners. Once more, it was good socialization for our dogs, and great practice my wife and I.
As our dogs continue to develop and mature, we honestly feel they will place better in all dog competitions. But even if they don’t, I guarantee we will continue to support the IABCA show here in Dayton as well as the new show they have on their calender for Cincinnati in September. If you haven’t been to an IABCA event as either a participant or spectator, then I highly recommend you do so…if you like to have fun that is.
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.