For example, we here in Maine are in Division 1. Starting in mid-May (and just in time for our regional Bearded Collie club's supported entries the following weekend), it will take 4 class dogs and 5 class bitches to form a 3-point major. Last year, we needed the same number of dogs, but 6 bitches were required for those elusive majors.
This is a big deal for those of us with breeds uncommon enough that often it's an event to see another dog of your breed at a show in Maine. When Dinah was a puppy in the classes, the only other Beardie we ever saw at most Maine shows was Traveler. We couldn't do anything for each other points-wise, but at least we were able to get in a lot of handling practice. Show entries were cheaper than handling classes back in those days.
A friend of mine is a judge who can judge the Miscellaneous class. I asked her, "So just how many Miscellaneous breeds do you ever get to judge at a given show?" She replied, "Oh, maybe 3 to 6, unless I'm judging at a place where there's a big concentration of a breed." It must be difficult when your breed is so rare that you have to bring all your own competition.
On the other hand, it's no picnic for the owners of very popular breeds. The 2012 point schedule for Labs calls for 17 dogs and 19 bitches to make up 3 points. If only 16 class dogs show up, you're just as sunk as we Beardie people would be with 3 class dogs. That can't be easy to take.
But There's More News!
AKC is realigning the divisions to try and smooth out some imbalances in breed populations in some regions. For example, New York state has long been part of Division 1, but they have way more Beardies there than we do in Maine. This has meant that we've had to follow the New York point schedule for our own shows, despite the fact that we hardly have enough Beardies showing in the state to make an entry, let alone a major. For this coming year, New York has been moved to Division 2 to keep company with the more Beardie-populous states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. This helps us here in New England field a more realistic number of dogs for our region. If you have to leave the region to hunt for majors, New York is a heckuva lot closer than Delaware.
Best in Show Daily has an excellent graphic with before-and-after maps so you can see just how the divisions shake out.
This also means that our out-of-state friends can easily help us build majors in New England. If you were thinking of joining us at the Supported Entries in May or at our Regional in June, please keep this in mind!