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Montgomery County Kennel Club

Lee Whittier, author of the article, Redefining Dog Show Attire: Embracing Comfort, Individuality & Tradition


Montgomery County Kennel Club – Where Terrier Dreams Come Alive

“Montgomery County is where Terrier dreams come alive,” says Bruce Schwartz, President of Montgomery County Kennel Club. “Montgomery County Kennel Club (MCKC) offers an unmatched concentration of Terrier specialties and top-quality dogs. Whether you’re a breeder, exhibitor, or enthusiast, you’ll find an unparalleled gathering of Terrier breeds here. Plus, the camaraderie and shared passion for dogs make the experience truly exceptional.”

How Does It Work?

Nestled in the historic heartland of Montgomery County, this show has a rich history and is renowned for hosting the finest Terriers in the world. This show harkens back to the tradition of breeders gathering to compare breeding stock. It is a modern-day version where breeders from all over the world meet year after year to take stock of their own and others’ breeding programs. It is a self-check, so to speak, to see if one is going in the right direction, if someone has better dogs than you, or if your dogs are the best. Sometimes, it is to prove unequivocally that your dog is the best.

This club is a designated all-breed club that holds a limited breed show dedicated to Terriers. Why should you care? It is one of the few clubs approved by the American Kennel Club to present a Best in Show award, not just a Group First. Winning Best in Show at Montgomery County is an enticing distinction that the American Kennel Club granted before Group shows were approved.

Montgomery County rolls out the red carpet for Terriers, hosting National Specialty shows for about two-thirds of the Terrier Group. Winning here isn’t just a victory; it’s a badge of honor earned in the company of the best of the best Terrier breeders worldwide. This doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. Envision over 20 National Specialties in one location. Imagine the energy around that site as the people and dogs arrive in the morning. The trajectory of any dog may change on that day.

Explanation: How It Works

At MCKC, each AKC Parent Club can opt to hold their National Specialty events there, held under the auspices of one show. As a result, the breed clubs wield the power to select their own judges, not by MCKC, which is considered an enormous advantage by many exhibitors. These judges are usually authentic “Terrier People.” Occasionally, someone not born into Terriers has the honor to judge at Montgomery County, but that is the exception to the rule. Other judges may not be AKC-approved, but they’ve earned their assignments by being recognized and trusted by national clubs. Bill McFadden and Gabriel Rangel, highly regarded and long-time Terrier handlers but not AKC approved, have judged Smooths and Wires here. Shari Boyd was anointed for the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier judging a few years ago. With breed clubs electing their judges, attendees get a multi-faceted view of the breeds.

Montgomery County Kennel Club
Lee Whittier

From Exhibitors

Attending MCKC immerses you in the world of beautiful Terriers and a tradition of the Terrier fancy. As an exhibitor, you stand among the best with all the opportunities to learn and stretch. It’s an uplifting experience to go to a dog show and see significant numbers of quality dogs shown by their breeders or owners at an event that draws people from all over because it’s where you want to win. It’s the place where you want your dogs to be seen for other breeders to consider for their breeding programs, and for you to be proud of the dogs you’re breeding and exhibiting to compete with the best in the breed.

Niki Higgins, Breeder/Owner/Handler Cairn Terriers

“You will experience the essence and breed type of every Terrier breed,” Niki Higgins emphasizes.

“Nowhere else will you experience The Terrier the way you will at Montgomery County: the quality, the number, the people you’ll meet and talk to, and the information you’ll learn, either subliminally or cognitively. You’ll learn just by being there and talking to the most knowledgeable people in the world.”

This is a show where breeders plan for years and wait for months to launch their next finest puppy for all to see. People come from Asia, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, and the UK. People come from all over the world, with or without dogs, to compete and to see Terriers. To say it’s their passion doesn’t even come close. For breeders and their dogs, it’s the ultimate stage where every dog is in the spotlight.

Kate Flack, Breeder/Owner/Handler Sealyham Terriers

“It is an incredible emotional experience …at MCKC, I cry every year at the beauty, the pressure, the expectations of it all. Sentimentality at its finest.”

Winning at Montgomery County is a monumental accolade where exhibitors get a respectful nod from other breeders and exhibitors. It can skyrocket a dog’s reputation and that of its breeders and owners. For established and respected breeders, the competition is still new and exciting every year. Who will come with a promising youth? How will that young dog we saw last year have matured?

From veteran breeders and renowned professional handlers to newbie owners, everyone who is anyone—breeders, owners, handlers, judges—everyone is here. It’s a show where we go to see our friends from all over the world whom we meet again every year. Here, breeders can flaunt their best dogs for consideration in breeding programs among their peers. Moreover, this gathering magnetizes numerous esteemed Terrier judges and those envisioning adjudicating Terriers in the future.

Katheryn Murray, Professional Terrier Groomer

“There is nothing like it. It’s Mecca for Terrier people all over the world. It’s a celebration of an entire Group, with almost all breeds having their National Specialty there every year. Terrier people plan their entire year around it, and for the pulled Terriers that’s a big deal, with prepping beginning months ahead of time. The crisp autumn air, the morning mist hovering over the rings and rising up to the white tents on the dawn of Montgomery morning—it’s pure Terrier magic.”

Why Do Judges Make the Pilgrimage?

Montgomery offers an experience that transcends the typical dog show. Attendees can engage up close and personal with each breed in dedicated grooming areas. Engaging with handlers and groomers, witnessing the dogs in all their glory, and delving deep into the intricacies of each breed presents a learning experience like no other. It’s a place where the Terrier spirit resonates, echoing Niki Higgins’ sentiment: “You will experience the essence and breed type of every Terrier breed.”

If you’re lucky, you may find yourself being mentored by a breeder of high repute. While studying Terriers, I had the opportunity to work with breed greats. I studied the Scottish Terrier with over 200 combined years of experience in the breed. Mentoring in the Irish Terrier took place with over 150 years of combined experience. At MCKC, you learn from people with profound, long histories in their breeds and many winners. They have all taught me something I have used in Terrier judging assignments. Most of all, they taught me the importance of essence in the Terrier.

I continue to make the annual pilgrimage, even though I have judged the Terrier Group for quite a while. I am still fascinated and swept up by the depth of knowledge about Terriers, all in one place. I am thrilled and excited by watching the dogs and the exceptional handlers. The continued learning experience of watching the rings, talking with long-time breeders, and watching the grooming is a trip to heaven for me.

Montgomery is not just a dog show; it’s a “next level” experience.