by Dee Bunk-Hatch
You see it in ads across the internet: “show quality”, “from show quality lines”, etc. What really makes a chinchilla “show quality” and how can you distinguish a truly well-bred chinchilla from one merely being touted as such?
First of all, you want to evaluate the breeder in question. Breeders of chinchillas who compete in shows will be a member of either (or Both) national organizations – the Mutation Chinchilla Breeders Association (MCBA) and Empress Chinchilla Breeders Cooperative (ECBC). These are the governing bodies that train and sanction judges and oversee the rules and standards for chinchilla shows. Member breeders should be happy to tell you they are affiliated with these organizations and which shows they have attended or plan to attend. The only way for a breeder to develop their eye for quality is by attending shows and educational seminars.
Second of all, look at the age of the chinchilla being called “show quality”. No breeder can guarantee an animal’s quality before it is close to being fully mature, between 6-7 months. If a breeder has worked with a specific line for a length of time and knows it well, they
may be able to gauge an animal’s quality at an earlier age. However, there are too many variables to assess a chinchilla as anything more than “potential” show quality as a kit, especially a very young kit.
If the chinchilla in question is 7-12 months old, ask if it has been shown and how it placed. Generally speaking, anything that placed a fourth or fifth place is not a show quality animal. Some breeders won’t use anything that placed lower than a second. If it has not been shown, ask how its parents placed when shown. If the breeder does not have any show information for the line, or their animals in general, it is a clue that they haven’t shown themselves and are merely using shows as a selling point.
Additionally, show quality chinchillas will have a pedigree. This pedigree will provide information on bloodlines, and some more extensive ones will include show placings for all of the animal’s ancestors. Not all chinchillas used in a breeding program will have been shown, but it is especially important for newer breeders to have comments from shows to help pair animals appropriately.
Show quality or not, it doesn’t make a difference if all you are looking for is a pet. All chinchillas deserve a loving home. However, if you are looking for a potential breeding animal, or considering paying more for “show quality”, be sure to do your homework. Even better, attend a show! We welcome the general public and enjoy answering your questions and matching you with your perfect pet.