Dogs have found their way into human homes as pets and have also helped them with their work for centuries. Since Egyptian times, dogs have provided people with entertainment, be it by accompanying them on a hunt or through racing. Today there are a number of spectator sports involving dogs.
- Hunting: Dogs and people hunting together is an age-old pastime. Dogs can be trained not only to discover prey but also to bring it back to their masters. Some breeds of dogs have been created for this very purpose. Packs of dogs can also be used to accompany men hunting on horseback. This can still be seen today in some parts of the world with fox hunting.
- Suitable Breeds: Mostly dogs in the Sporting (Pointers and Retrievers) and Hound (i.e. Beagle, Dachshund, Whippet) groups. Besides that, you can also get a Shiba puppy and train him accordingly.
- Sled Dog Racing: The sport of sled dog racing dates back thousands of years. Native American people were dependent on dogs for a number of things, but mostly for transportation. The first official sled dog race took place in Alaska in 1908 and covered a course 408 miles long. Enthusiasms for the sport spread rapidly through North America and today it has become globally popular.
- Suitable Breeds: Dogs from the Working Group are bred to perform a variety of tasks such as sledding, carting, and guarding. Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky are traditionally used in sled dog racing.
- Dog Racing: Dog racing has taken place since Roman times, but the sport was truly developed in England in the 16th century when dogs chasing hares became a popular spectator sport. The hares would be given a head start and two greyhounds would race after it—the sport was called “coursing.” The most famous coursing race, the Waterloo Cup, was established in England in 1837.
- Suitable Breeds:Greyhound. Note: I personally do not like the idea of dog racing sports as the dogs are subjected to ‘gruesome’ training with limited human contact other than the trainers. Once the dog can no longer perform well (about 3-4 years old) in the race, they are either given up to shelters or sold to any homes or put to sleep even though they are mentally and physically sound. If you are keen to have greyhound as pets, do yourself a favor and adopt these dogs.
- Flyball: Flyball is a team relay race with four dogs and their owners in each team. The aim is for the dogs, in turn, to jump over four hurdles, trigger a box that releases a ball, catch the ball and then return to the start-finish line. The next dog is then released to perform the same actions and so on. The winner is the first team to get four balls and four dogs back without a fault.
- Suitable Breeds: Any dogs with a team spirit can participate in the Flyball game. But you would fare better in the game with dogs that love a good sport and gets along well with other dogs. If you are aiming to win the game 9 out 10 times, then I suggest you enroll dogs that are known to be highly intelligent and trainable dogs. The top 20 are Border Collie, Poodle, GSD, Golden Retriever, Shetland Sheepdog, Labrador Retriever, Papillon, Rottweiler, Australian Cattle Dog, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Miniature Schnauzer, English Springer Spaniel, Belgian Tervuren, Schipperke, Belgian Sheepdog, Collie, Keeshond, German Short-haired Pointer, and English Cocker Spaniel.
- Agility Shows: Agility shows first came about at the Crufts Dog Show in Birmingham in 1977 when something was needed to fill the time between two parts of the competition. Dog agility is a sport where a handler has a set amount of time to guide his or her dog over a series of obstacles. As in show jumping, the dog picks up penalties if it knocks down a bar from one of the hurdles or if it places a foot in a safety zone. The winner is the dog that completes the course with the fewest faults. If two dogs have the same number of faults, the dog that has completed the course in the least amount of time is the winner.
- Suitable Breeds: Very similar to Flyball, however, I have seen some dogs won agility shows were nowhere near the top 50 intelligent dogs. They were Boston Terrier, Maltese (one of my dogs came in third, so I got to brag about it!), and Italian Greyhound. Surprisingly, these so-called less intelligent dogs outwit those in the top 50 range. So what’s my secret…it’s all about bonding, partnership, and hard work.
- Dog Shows: Shows that were devoted solely to dogs started to take place in the 18th century. The most famous dog show in the world is called Crufts and it takes place every year in Birmingham, England. If you have the opportunity to attend, do so! It was an eye-opening event for me and got me started seriously in handling other breeds beside my dogs. Do you know that you can get paid handsomely if you are a good handler? Some handlers started as young as 7 years and within a year or two they turned Prohandlers drawing big juicy fees. According to the Kennel Clubs, the purpose of dog shows is to promote the general improvement of dogs in every way.
- Suitable breeds: All pedigree dogs. I know many do not consider this as a sport for dogs, but for those small companion dogs it means a whole lot of exercises to them especially if you enroll them in a few events—Best Breed, Best Toy Breed, Best Puppy, Best Veteran, Best Maiden, and Best in Show. Awards are given to the best dog in each breed, category, and to the best dog in the show. Besides getting them to be in immaculate condition and have good gait, it’s all about having fun. That’s how my dogs and I enjoyed winning the game.
With so many competitive sports available for various breeds, there is no reason for you not to enroll your dog in at least one sport. So my next question to you…How game are you for your dog?