Westminster: Dog Show Handlers
All Bling? Or All Business?
Of course the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is all about the dogs.
But there’s no ignoring the handlers. They’re both out the in ring and they can’t be missed.
Some however, are easier to spot than others. There are definitely two trends in what to wear: Bling … or Business Attire.
The Mental Floss website chatted with dog handlers Sharon Rives and Karen Mammano. These were their thoughts:
When deciding what to wear for the big day, handlers have to make sure they’re not overshadowing the dog with fancy flair. “You want to dress to compliment the dog’s colors,” says Rives. “If you’re showing a black dog you don’t want to wear a black skirt because then you’re obscuring the dog.” The more prestigious the show, the better the handlers dress. “We always joke that last week was fashion week for us because we were all trying to get suits for Westminster,” says Mammano. And for the bigger shows, they invest in nice footwear, not only because they’re on their feet all day, but because their feet and ankles are going to be on TV. Rives is wearing the shoes she wore to her wedding. “They’re little silver ballet flats that have sparkly crystals on the toes,” she says.
Urban Dog spoke with handler Ashley Walter about what she thought was appropriate wear. Ashley is full-time dog handler, traveling most weekends each year to shows. She showed two dogs at Westminster this year, including Belgian Shepherd Flame (seen below.) She definitely came down on the side of sober, business attire. She said you shouldn’t draw attention away from the dogs.
The Washington Post agrees
Most men wore pretty serious suits as they jogged their charges around the ring. Female handlers generally also wore suits — typically with conservative knee-length skirts and flat shoes, the better to run in. But there can be more to the choice, some women told me. Debra Metcalf, the handler of a bear of a dog called a Leonberger, said she thinks it’s best to coordinate and not clash with the dog, but also to not draw attention from it.
But not everyone agrees with Ashley and the Post.
Sequins were seen everywhere.
And not just on the ladies!
And it’s not limited to clothes! This handler dyed her hair to match her outfit!