Entering Your Bulldog Into a Dog Show? Here is Everything You Need to Know

Entering Your Bulldog Into a Dog Show? Here is Everything You Need to Know

Entering Your Bulldog into a Dog Show

Here’s Wildflower at the Nisqually Kennel Club Dog Show. She won Winner’s Bitch, Best of Winners, Best of Opposite Sex and Best of Breed Owner Handled.

Competing in a dog show is a lot of fun but it can require careful preparation and hard work as well. For bulldog owners new to the world of dog shows, we’ve put together a short guide to help get you started.

Preparing Bulldogs for Show


A bulldog is comparatively easy to prepare for a show. Brushing his short coat on a regular basis will keep it healthy, clean and shiny. Rubbing it with a soft cloth or chamois just before entering the ring will ensure a freshly groomed look. Your bulldog should be bathed occasionally and his eyes wiped every day to prevent staining. Extra care should be taken with wrinkles and ears. One last preparation for a bulldog dog show is to trim your dog’s nails.

Show Training

Bulldog walking and preparing for dog show

Here’s Wildflower practicing walking, as she would do in the ring

Wildflower walking and smiling, happy to be practicing for her upcoming dog show

How to show train a bulldog

It is up to you as the handler to accentuate your dog’s good qualities and play down the bad ones. Training begins long before you arrive at the show. Puppies as young as six weeks can be trained to stand quietly on a flat table to prepare them to be judged. Your pup should wear his collar but no leash. Take plenty of time to pet your dog and tell them what a great job they are doing. A show dog who is enjoying what he is doing often places higher than one who is bored or only placating his owner. Training in this manner should be done in short increments every day.

How to Practice “Stacking”:

Step 1: Stand your dog on a flat table

Step 2: You should carefully place one hand flat on your pup’s chest and one on his rear end. Hold him gently cradled this way for only ten or fifteen seconds at a time.

Step 2: Quietly repeat the “stand” command.

Step 3: After a few weeks of training, you will be able to begin placing his legs into the “square” position. Gently move your dogs legs by moving his chin or tugging on his collar. Place his rear legs closer together than his front legs so that when you look at him from the front you can see his rear legs between his front legs. This is referred to as “stacking.”  Bulldogs are unique in that they are judged from the front rather than the side as are other breeds.

Teaching Wildflower the Bulldog how to stand for a dog show

Helping Wildflower learn "stacking" in preparation for her dog show

We use a mirror when training with Wildflower. This helps because it allows us to see how she looks from every angle.

Wildflower standing on table practicing for dog show

It's important Wildflower the bulldog keep her head straight when standing in a dog show

Bulldogs must keep their mouths closed when presenting for a dog show

Wildflower stands with feet hip-width apart and mouth closed


Patience first

Anyone seeking to train their dog, whether or not it is a bulldog, should understand that without patience there will be no placing. All dogs learn in their own time and you should not be discouraged if your pup will not stand still or even stand up on the table during the first few training sessions. Your dog is looking to you for calm guidance during this unfamiliar activity. If you get upset your dog is going to learn that training is something to dread. Keep your training sessions short to prevent over stressing either your dog or yourself. Another good rule of thumb is to always end a training session positively even if it does not feel as if you have made much progress.


Bulldogs standing in the ring at the dog show

Observe others

You and your pup should visit at least one dog show before you ever enter the ring. It is important that your dog is socialized around other dogs and should be accustomed to being handled by strangers. Watch the other dogs and their handlers. Quietly note what you have already learned works for you and your dog. Keep an open mind towards learning something new. Let your pup get used to the comings and goings of the other dogs and people at the show. This will relax you both.

Dress for success: What the show handler should wear

A dog show handler should always look professional whether it is their first or 50th show. The colors you wear should complement your dog’s coat. Men and women should wear neat, loose-fitting pants that allow them to get down and stack their dogs as well as move briskly in the ring. Long skirts that flap with movement and noisy jewelry are prohibited. Shoes for women and men should be low-heeled and well-maintained. Open-toed footwear and sandals are not permissible in the show ring. Shirts and jackets should not restrict the handler’s movement.

What to pack:

In your show day bag should be grooming supplies, a water dish and a bottle of water, nylon showing leads, and an emergency first aid kit. It can be handy to bring a small plastic spray bottle containing a mix of water and a little dog shampoo. Your show schedule and associated paperwork should be in an outside pocket of your bag to help keep you organized. Inside your dog’s crate should be a familiar blanket or bed.

In the Ring

Bulldogs being judged at the Hurricane Ridge Kennel Club Dog Show

A professionally turned-out dog show handler radiates calm confidence. Remember to relax and not ‘over handle’ your dog. Bulldogs are prized for their head and neck carriage and should not be ‘strung up’ like terriers. Be pleasant to the judge as he or she goes over your dog, however, it is considered rude to attempt any longer conversation.

Got any more tips? Leave a comment below and let us know! We’d love to hear from you!

About Cascade Bulldogs:

Cascade Bulldogs is a bulldog blog dedicated to providing bulldog care and training tips. The blog is managed by Eddie and Gail and their two bulldog show dogs, Wildflower and Snow White. For more tips and fun bulldog photos, please follow Cascade Bulldogs on Facebook.

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