I never thought I'd be interested in going into the conformation ring, but that interest is slowly growing as I wait for my (hopeful) puppy to be born any day now. In the breeder's previous litter (including the dam of this litter), all but one of the pups have had at least a smidgen of a career in the conformation ring, with a 4 of 8 earning their Ch., and 2 of those earning their GCHS.
For someone with NO ring experience, how difficult is it really to earn that Ch. prefix in the Midwest? We do have a reputable training school near me which does some conformation classes, though the instructors' experience is mostly in smaller breeds and not dobies.
I'm trying to use this unbearable waiting time to research my little heart out.
Gretchen-Red is correct when she says (see above) that everyone will have a different opinion.
I went to a dog show with a friend (with a Great Dane puppy) and Dobermans were in the ring right after Danes. I came home from that show--my first--and started looking for a breeder. I wanted a big black Dobe to show. (I knew nothing about choosing a show prospect--and that much has never really changed. Another friend found a litter--11 puppies, 5 males, 4 black. My Dane friend and I went to see them the following week--they were about 6 weeks old then.
This was a long long time ago--the big black male I got was whelped in 1959.
To make this shorter--I found a book and between my Dane friend and the book learned how to stack a dog--she told me what kind show collar to get and an appropriate leash. He got cropped by the wrong vet--and recropped by the vet who cropped most of the show Danes in the PNW and almost cried when he saw the too short bad crop--but at least he fixed the horrible huge bells from the first crop.
My friend brought me an premium list from a local show coming up when my puppy would be just over six month. She asked where is registration papers where. What registration papers. She breathed a sigh of relief when I said that the guy who bred the litter but wasn't the woman I bought the puppy from was having a practice show training class the coming weekend and we could ask about the papers.
The real breeder almost cried when he saw the ears--gave me his registration and said the puppy had turned out very well--he said I had the pick male and maybe the pick puppy from the litter. I was stoked. He said don't get real excited--it's going to be hard for a beginner handler even with a nice puppy to compete.
Later I learned that there were even more handlers in the Dobe ring then than there are today.
I found out, I found out how to be a good sport about loosing but we did our share of winning too--maybe more than our share--at our first show he went reserve from the 6-9 puppy class (very unusual for that day and age--most of the winners came from the open class) his second show was a Dobe Specialty and he went WD, and Best of Winners for a 5 point major. We went to Canada--and he went Best of Breed and Group 2 four days in a row and came home a Canadian champion. By fall that year he needed a major to finish--that last show of the year in the PNW had 5 point majors in dogs and bitches.
One of the handlers I regularly competed against told me the judge liked dogs that would show themselves and I should spend some time teaching my puppy to come to a stop in a stack and not handle him any more than I could possible get away with. He finished with a bang. He went Best of Breed from the classes and a Group 3.
By the time he finished I was just then starting to really be able to show that dog--I went on to owner handle my dogs until some health issues stopped me. But we sure had fun. It really helps to have a really good dog and quite by accident I did have a very good dog. I found out several things along the way--I loved showing my dogs (and any one else's) in the classes--not so much for Breed and definitely not in the Groups. His breeder retired his Special and my dog was his special for a good many years with Groups and BIS's to his credit.
I was green as grass in the show ring but I was lucky that the people (handlers) I showed against were nice and willing to share information with me and I listened to what they told me.
I think it's easier in some respects today to start out--showing a dog when you've never done it before. I've taken dogs through handling classes and most of them do a pretty good job teaching how to take a dog into the conformation ring. And if your puppy comes from a show breeder they are often very helpful in getting you started.
And you'll never know how you will do unless you try it. So good luck and I can definitely tell you it can be done.