Story: Pets

Page 6. Pet clubs, competitions and breeders

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Pet clubs and shows

Breeding and showing pet animals became a popular pastime in late 19th century New Zealand. The New Zealand Kennel Club was set up in 1886, and other ‘fanciers’ clubs’ were established around the country. They held exhibitions and competitions at which pigeons, canaries, cats, dogs and other animals were shown and judged. Agricultural and pastoral shows also had competitions for pet ponies, as well as farm livestock.

In the early 2000s there are many clubs for owners of dogs and cats (including particular breeds), as well as other pets such as parrots, rats, rabbits and pigeons. The New Zealand Kennel Club coordinates around 300 dog clubs nationwide. It runs dog shows for individual breeds, and competitions to test obedience and agility.

Cat shows are held around the country throughout the year, and both ordinary moggies and pedigrees are displayed in cages that are often specially decorated for the occasion.

Top dog

According to 2006 registrations with the New Zealand Kennel Club, the most popular dog breed in this country is the Labrador retriever, with the German shepherd next in line. The least popular is the chihuahua.


Many owners are not concerned about the breed of their pet, but for others it is an important consideration. For example, some dogs are treated like accessories, with breeds like Jack Russells and Dalmatians coming into and then falling out of fashion. The New Zealand Kennel Club’s online directory lists breeders of over 100 types of dog. Catz Incorporated’s register of breeders covers more than 40 types of cat.

Fluffy or …

As befits their breeding, pedigree cats can have some very fancy names. Examples are Tigerland Nitro-Glitterin, Ribbons Lord Admiral Mountbatten, Kakutzi Absolut Chocolat and Epiphany Devine Temptation.

Breeding pedigree animals

Breeders of pedigree animals aim to produce animals with the best qualities of the particular breed, and, if possible, to improve on its characteristics. They need to research genetics carefully, and membership of a breeders’ association is desirable. Blood tests and other diagnostic tests are used to ensure the breeding animals are not carrying hereditary diseases.

Good and bad breeding

The temperament of dogs such as rottweilers has been improved through breeding. However, there is a danger that crossing some breeds can create temperament and health problems. Cross-breeds such as labradoodles, spoodles and cavoodles, the result of crossing poodles with Labradors, spaniels and cavalier King Charles spaniels, have become very popular in New Zealand. However, if they are crossbred again temperament issues could emerge.

There is a ban on importing certain breeds of dog, namely the American pit bull terrier, Brazilian fila, Dogo argentino and Japanese tosa, as they are considered very aggressive.

How to cite this page:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Pets - Pet clubs, competitions and breeders', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 July 2024)

Story by Nancy Swarbrick, published 24 Nov 2008