Once the pup has been purchased, the real work begins. Many owners send their dogs to professional handlers who board, train and show the dogs at hundreds of competitions each year.
"He grows up and goes to live with a professional handler when he's young, and gets schooled and trained, and learns how to stand, and goes on a leash, and is kept in condition depending on what kind of coat he has," said Westminster Chairman Bradley.
According to Maryland-based professional handler Michael Scott, who is showing a top-ranked Portuguese water dog at this year's Westminster, those services aren't cheap.
"If you're trying to make your dog a top dog, we go to over 200 dog shows a year," said Scott. "Not everyone can afford that."
Scott, who has been a professional handler for decades, said he and his wife, also a professional handler, currently board six dogs, and retain the services of one full-time assistant, who is paid between $25,000 and $30,000 per year, in addition to one or two part-time assistants.
Scott says his overhead expenses are in the six figures. "You're easily at a couple hundred thousand dollars a year," he said.
Even so, Scott said he and his wife are able to generate an annual six-figure profit by handling around 20 dogs per show at hundreds of events each year.
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"We get a little over $100 per dog per handling per show," said Scott. "We have performance bonuses that we bill out, like $750 for 'best in show.' Right there you're making a couple thousand dollars a day showing dogs."
Top handlers like Scott can make up to $250,000 per year, according to Westminster judge Dougherty.