Who let the dogs out?

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To the Editors of American Demographics: Do you know where I can get information on dog shows and the people whose dogs participate in them?

Clay Howitz C & C Outfitters LLC Henning, Minnesota

Dear Clay: Although the recent film Best in Show had theater-goers rolling in the aisles with laughter, the market of dog enthusiasts - actually, they're called fanciers - is no laughing matter.

The American Kennel Club (AKC), a not-for-profit organization established in 1884, currently consists of 550 member clubs and oversees more than 15,000 sanctioned dog events a year, including the renowned Westminster Dog Show held every February in New York City. The AKC also maintains the largest registry of purebred dogs. In 1999, the club registered 1.1 million dogs of 148 recognized breeds. Among the most popular registered breeds that year: the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Dachshund, and Beagle, in that order.

According to market research firm Mediamark Research, Inc., 30 percent of Americans own a dog. Twenty-nine percent own one, two, or three dogs, and 1 percent own four or more. Interestingly, of those with one, two, or three dogs, 26 percent claim annual household incomes of $75,000 and up, and 46 percent own homes worth $100,000 or more. Of persons with four or more dogs, only 16 percent report incomes of $75,000 and over; 37 percent own homes valued at $100,000 and up. One thing they both have in common: kids. Fifty-one percent of people with dogs (be it one, two, three, four, or more) have children (9 percent higher than the national average).

What about those who follow dog pageants? More than 6 million Americans are almost certain to tune in to the Westminster Dog Show on the USA Network, according to Simmons Market Research Bureau. Dog owners are 1 1/2 times (56 percent) more likely than the average American to say they'll sit up for the event, which is decidedly more popular among women (62 percent of those who say they'll tune in are female). When they're not fancying dogs in competition, this group enjoys cooking (56 percent); gardening (56 percent); board games (44 percent); antique shopping (29 percent); and needlework (20 percent). They're also more likely than average to collect metal sculptures, animation art, and miniatures. What could be better than a pocket-size statuette of man's best friend?

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