How much do top show dogs cost? A Step-by-Step Guide

Spending money

Once on the grass, some owners show their own dogs. But more often, they hire professional handlers to lead the dogs as judges grade how closely they meet their breed’s standards.

Trumpet’s handler and owner, Heather Helmer, also bred the 4-year-old. On the side, she’s a handler for hire, charging anywhere from $100 to $400 for ringside handling, depending on the type of show, according to her website. For Westminster, her ringside fees start at $1,000, with an extra $800 bonus if the dog wins best in show.

But those fees could be considered chump change compared to the small fortune many spend leading up to the competition. During this so-called campaign period, owners fly their dogs around the country and advertise them in magazines to generate buzz in the year before Westminster.

Campaigns could spend $250,000 in total or $100,000 just on advertising, owners reported to CNBC. And a full-page commercial ad in the glossy pages of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show’s own catalog costs $350, according to the event’s premium list.

“Advertising in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Catalog is an excellent opportunity to promote your dogs to the public,” the Westminster Kennel Club wrote.

The Westminster Kennel Club did not respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

Who won the Westminster Dog Show in 2021?

Pekingese Wasabi won last years Westminster Dog Show. Wasabi, grandson of the 2012 Westminster Best in Show winner, strutted his way to an impressive performance at Lyndhurst Estate, out-dueling more than 2,500 other dogs to secure victory.

Paying the handler: Handler fees per show can run from $75 to $700 depending on how many wins your dog scores in a given event. That assumes your handler is showing other dogs too. If you want the handler to work for you exclusively, expect to pay much more. Also, handling fees tend to double for the biggest shows like Westminster. Annual cost: $24,000 and up if your dog wins often.

Advertising your dog: A winning dog needs press. Canalizo estimates you could spend $1,000 a month on ads to promote your dog in the trade magazines that show judges receive. Social media, too, has become a big outlet for promoting your prized pooch, and it typically doesnt cost a thing. Annual cost: $12,000.

Covering travel, hotels and food: Most dog shows are not in your backyard. So youll have to pony up for the travel and hotel costs of your dogs handler, your dog and yourself if you plan to tag along. Lots of variables like distance and form of travel will affect cost. But its probably not unreasonable to assume you might spend at least $1,000 a month. Annual cost: $12,000 at minimum.

How much does a Best in Show dog cost?

It’s Thanksgiving day, and you finally get to kick back, relax, and enjoy a delicious meal with family and friends. While the turkey’s in the oven and the side dishes are being perfectly prepared in the kitchen, it’s only natural to turn the TV on and tune into seasonal favorites. While you likely have football fans waiting anxiously to see who’s winning the game, other folks around the table may be looking forward to getting a glimpse at the National Dog Show.

The pups presented at the National Dog Show — and any dog show, for that matter — are seriously beautiful. And there’s no doubt their owners have put a ton of time, resources, and money into making their pets show-ready. Here’s how much it costs to enter your dog in a prestigious competition such as this one.