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4 Inclusive Dog Shows That Give Mutts a Chance to Shine

Because mixed-breed dogs deserve applause, too.

by Sio Hornbuckle
November 17, 2022
National Rescue Dog Show
Photo: Ser Baffo / ABC

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This weekend, the National Dog Show will be taking over the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center — though, as always, you’ll have to wait until Thanksgiving day to watch it on TV (if you can convince your less animal-obsessed extended family to hand over the remote). The world-famous competition has been ongoing since 1879 (seriously, that’s not a typo: eighteen-seventy-nine) and airing over living-room Thanksgiving arguments for the past 20 years. It’s impossible not to respect that legacy — or the hundreds of well-trained, well-groomed pups who have strut their stuff over the years.

But when it comes to show eligibility, not all dogs are given a fair shot. As in most major dog shows, mixed-breed dogs aren’t able to compete. To those of us who love mutts and encourage others to adopt rather than buy from breeders, the industry’s fascination with pedigree can be frustrating. Luckily, there are other dog shows filling the gap. Below are four competitions that lift up mixed-breed dogs and remind us that wherever a pup came from, they deserve a chance at stardom.

The American Rescue Dog Show

Leave it to Hallmark to host the most feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy event of the year. The American Rescue Dog Show spotlights both mixed breed and purebred rescues in categories including — but definitely not limited to — Best in Snoring, Best in Underbite, Best in Wiggling, and Best in Wrinkles. The 2023 show is set to premiere next May. Needless to say, we will be watching.

The Farm Dog of the Year

The Farm Dog of the Year contest celebrates the pups working on food farms across America. Instead of judging by pedigree, a panel of judges selected by the American Farm Bureau Federation chooses dogs based on their helpfulness on the farm and their bonds with their pet parents. Winners are awarded with a year’s supply of pet food and $5,000 cash. In addition to the judge’s choice, a People’s Choice Pup is awarded; voting is open for the 2023 competition now. If you’re in line, stay in line.

Scruffts

Hosted by The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom, this dog show is an alternative to Crufts, a massive competition exclusive to purebred dogs. Scruffts was created to give families without purebred pups the opportunity to participate in all the dog-socializing, community-building, and glamour of traditional dog shows. There are no breed standards; instead, dogs are judged on character, health, and temperament. All money raised by the small entry fee is donated to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest

Yes, the award title looks a little mean at first glance, but this contest has been entertaining humans and adorning nontraditional dogs since the 1970s, and we hope it never stops. Each year, about 20,000 people attend the show at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. There are two separate divisions for purebred dogs and mutts, with the two winners ultimately competing for the overall title of “World’s Ugliest Dog” (by which we of course mean “World’s Most Unconventionally Beautiful Dog”).

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Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.