Do you ever wonder if your dog has what it takes to be Best in Show? Do YOU have what it takes? Right now the Sydney Royal Dog Show is on and hundreds of canine competitors are taking part, all hoping for that coveted title.

I asked young competitor Shannon Barden all about competing with his dog Murphy. This elegant Borzoi has racked up a host of titles over the last 5 years including 35 Best in Show awards, and is currently the #1 Hound and #2 dog across all breeds Australia-wide and is the #1 Dog in NSW for 2014.

Best in Show

Dr Jo: When did you get into showing dogs? What made you want to do this?

Shannon: I have been involved in the sport of purebred dogs all my life, I began handling dogs as a junior handler when I was seven years old but have taken this passion more seriously since I was 16. My family has a strong passion for dogs and I am apart of  the third generation to continue exhibiting the dogs. I am thankful for the support offered by Purina Pro Plan as one of their proud ambassadors they really make my job so much easier.

Dr Jo: Tell me about Murphy – what is his personality like at home? Is he a pet? Do you have other dogs? Is Murphy ever naughty?

Shannon: Murphy is the sweetest dog, he has a wonderful personality to have around, at 5 years young he loves to have alone time with myself especially laying on the bed after a busy day for him. Yes we have 5 others dogs who currently are being shown by either my family or people who co own the dog with my family. As any normal dog is Murphy does have glimpses of naughtiness but as a whole I believe it is what makes Murphy the ultimate show dog due to his desire to please and perform to a exceptional standard because he loves the spot light.

 Competing dog & owner Shannon & Murphy

Dr Jo: Do you get nervous at a show?

Shannon: Yes it is natural to get nervous, irrespective of how many times you exhibit/show a dog and I believe it shows how much you really want it. 

Dr Jo: Do you think Murphy gets nervous?

Shannon: I believe emotion can travel between and handler, if the handler is excited or nervous then I believe the dogs are able to pick up on this and act accordingly.

Dr Jo: Do you think he enjoys it? How do you know?

Shannon: Murphy is the ultimate show dog, he is always eager to jump in the bath tub, table or car. At a show you can see his excitement grow as you arrive. It is almost like a second family for him as many people spend the weekends travelling showing their dogs and thus the friendships are born.

Dr Jo: How important are the following to you when preparing your dog for a show?


    • Grooming – It is vital to have your dog clean, brushed and sprayed to smell nice as the judges on the day are assessing the presentation standards of your dog, a failure to do this correctly may be detrimental to the success you have showing your dog.
    • Diet- A clean coat is only half the battle to present your dog to the best of its ability. A clean healthy coat comes from having a complete nutritional diet, this is offered by Purina Pro who focus on the wellbeing of a dog, another important feature to note is having the correct amount of weight and muscle for the specific breed.
    • Exercise–  A physically fit and able dog can continuously meet the demanding requirements of dog shows, thankfully Purina Proplan with their complete nutritional diet allow the dogs to have the best source of energy to fuel their bodies.
    • Your’s dog’s behaviour – I always make sure that Murphy has plenty of rest between the shows, like any athlete, a tired athlete becomes mentally and physically incapable of performing to their best of their abilities.

Dr Jo: How would you celebrate if you won Best in Show?

Shannon: I would certainly enjoy a relaxing night celebrating with close friends.

Dr Jo: And I hope your dog would get a huge cuddle and a treat or two!!

Shannon Best in Group 2014
Best in Group 2014

Wishing Shannon and Murphy all the best for this year’s competition and their future partnership. Whether or not Murphy wins Best in Show he will always be Best Dog in Shannon’s eyes and this is all that matters.