Canine Fancy

Jack Curtis Joyce photographs dog showing culture in a series exploring niché hobbies

Words by Jack Curtis Joyce

Canine Fancy is a project taken from my ongoing Niché Hobbies series, in which I explore pastimes that are seen as nothing to the masses but everything to the few.

Dog showing is the most common form of canine competition in the UK. The Kennel Club set a breed standard for each Pedigree dog breed it recognises, this outlines the ideal configuration and characteristics for that breed. While competing in the ring each dog is examined and compared against this criteria by a judge, this is combined with pattern work where exhibitors are asked to move around the ring in a certain pattern to show the dogs movements to determine the nearest ideal example of the breed. There are usually 5 placings, from 1st to 3rd followed by reserve and very highly commended.

In the series I traveled between the Midlands and Bristol attending various shows ranging in size. From small singular breed shows in Yelvertoft, groups shows in Coventry and the largest of the year, Crufts in Birmingham.

Although this is a series about dog showing, I seldom documented the competitions. The aim of the project was to visually document dog showing culture and at the same time gain an understanding of why it was taken part in with such passion and determination. Focusing on the individual exhibitors, the environments the competitions took place in and the objects found within them gave me a much deeper insight in to the Canine Fancy psyche.

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