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Tiny dogs, big hearts...

New in 2019, the Toy Breed Agility League (TBAL) is an on-line league which has been set up to highlight the achievements of particularly tiny dogs. To belong to the League, dogs must fall into either the Kennel Club Toy Group or be a Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso or Toy Poodle which are classified by the KC as Utilitarian or be a very tiny crossbreed whose parentage is at least 50% of any of the breeds mentioned above. Other breeds, such as terriers, weighing less than 5kg are also eligible.

Year End Report

The first year of the Toy Breed Agility League (TBAL) was a huge success with over 16,000 points being awarded to members for their places earned throughout the year.

The accolade of Overall Winner with 919 points went to 16 year old Charlotte Baker with her three year old Cockapoo X Maltese, Buddy. He came into Charlotte's life at a time when she most needed a best friend. Just two years ago they started their agility journey and have since reached Grade 4 and have qualified to compete at Crufts 2020 in three classes.

The 2020 Toy Breed Agility League will be run by Georgia Hatton as  co-founder Jenny Witt has decided to step back from running the League. I would like to thank her for helping to set it up and I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

I have been involved in agility for around nine years now and currently train five dogs and compete with three of them - although at very different levels. I will be teaming up with league winner Charlotte at Crufts in March in the YKC pairs class with my almost 11 year old Lucher Hoddy. Later on this year I hope to bring out the youngest dog - Australian Silky Terrier Zym - and I believe he will be the only one of his breed competing in the UK at the moment.

League entries for 2020 are now being taken. Send an email to toybreedagility@gmail.com or find us on Facebook!


TBAL is an on-line agility league. Handlers submit points throughout the year, with the league being split into different categories depending on grade. Dogs stay in the same grade throughout the year, so their category is determined on 1st January.

  • Beginners: Grade 1-2 / UKA beginners
  • Novice: Grade 3-4 / UKA novice
  • Senior: Grade 5 / UKA Senior
  • Advanced: Grade 6-7 / UKA Champ
  • Veteran  Dogs aged 8 years and over at the start of the calendar year
  • Overall league winner

At the end of the year, rosettes and prizes will be awarded to the top five dogs in each category

How are points awarded?

Points will be awarded for:-

  • 1st = 10 points
  • 2nd =  9 points
  • 3rd =  8 points
  • 4th =  7 points
  • 5th =  6 points
  • Any lower places and Unplaced clears (UPCs) = 5 points
  • UPCs with time faults = 3 points

Places at Kennel Club, UKA and independent shows are accepted. Results from any classes are accepted and equally weighted including: Agility, Jumping, Games, Steeplechase, Specials etc. Only individual runs are permitted though, i.e. no Teams or Pairs results.

Places with faults are permitted.

Unplaced clears with time faults are also awarded points to encourage dogs who enjoy agility and are consistently accurate, but struggle to reach course times due to their size, particularly in the higher grades where course times are tighter. These will be worth three points.

How to join
Send an email with the following information to toybreedagility@gmail.com. There is a 5 fee for the handlers first dog to be entered into the League, with any subsequent being 2.50 each. This money all goes directly back into the league and will be used at the end of the year to cover the costs of purchasing and sending prizes.

Handler name  
Email address  
Dog's name  
Dogs Grade / Level on 1st January 2020
(Dogs will remain in this category for the remainder of the year)
 
Dogs age on 1st January 2020  
Breed  

 Who runs the League?

TBAL was set up as a joint collaboration between two handlers-  Jenny Witt and Georgia Hatton, both of whom have toy breed dogs of their own.

Georgia Hatton

I have been involved in agility for around eight years, having grown up watching it on TV and wishing there were more breeds other than collies showcased. My first dog, Hoddy, a Whippet X, needed an outlet for all her energy, so we started agility training. It took us a long time to be any good (not winning out of Grade 1 for four years) but we were hooked. Some eight years later, we're still competing, but now in the dizzying heights of Grade 6.

Whilst competing at Crufts this year, I took the chance to chat to a family friend who was running the Discover Dogs stand for her breed. Fully aware that Hod is approaching 10 years old, we'd discussed getting another dog with the stipulation it had to be a small breed.

I didn't intend to go to Crufts and come home with a viewing of a puppy, but I had been assured that this dog was perfect for me and he could be mine... as long as we did some agility.

Enter Ozymandias (aka Zym), an Australian Silky Terrier. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in personality. At the moment, he is eight months old and just starting his foundation agility training, but he is proving to have a real talent for it especially when tug toys are involved - and I am excited for his future.

For me the league is all about rewarding the handlers of these little dogs, and giving them a platform to showcase what they are capable of.

Jenny Witt

I rehomed Sophie when she was six months old and I was 15. She was my first dog of my own and we mostly got her as a companion for me as I was struggling with my mental health. I'd done some agility for fun with our family collie in the past, so I decided to try it with Soph, just at home in the garden. She took to it really well and we started looking into independent shows early 2016.

We did our first KC Grade 1 show in July 2016 where she got 6/6 clears and won into Grade 2. Just over two years later in November 2018, she got her final win towards Grade 7. She's also now Champ performance at UKA.

Being my first agility dog, I made a lot of mistakes with Sophie but she has taught me so much. Running a Toy breed in agility gives you a much different outlook, and I believe can shape you into a more adaptive trainer. You definitely have to find different ways to train/handle a tiny dog.

Drive was something I initially struggled with as when I got her Sophie didn't really play with toys. Nowadays she goes nuts for a tennis ball! She was very much a velcro dog as she runs at my pace, but over the years we've worked on some distance stuff which has helped. She loves to chase me so we try to use this to our advantage wherever possible.

I didn't get a Chihuahua with the intention of competing in agility, and yes we've had some funny looks and comments over the years, but I'm having fun with my best friend and showing off how awesome tiny dogs can be when not being carted around in handbags so who cares! The League is the perfect showcase for this and it's great seeing members posting about their successes. It's not about the breed, it's about the bond.

To find out more about the TBAL, visit their Facebook page

First Published 25th July 2019

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