A character has a loving pet and they think they are the best pet anyone could ever have. What is the best way to prove it? By having them compete against other pets in a competition.
In most common cases, pet shows are usually ways for people to show off their pets (most commonly dogs) as purebreds and they would compete in different forms of competition such as style and talent before a group of judges. The show would end with one being awarded first prize and being given the title "Best In Show".
The contest often includes a Slobs Vs Snobs subtext, with snooty purebred animals (and owners) looking down on scrappy but lovable mutts.
Of course, it's hardly guaranteed that the protagonist and their pet will actually win first place. Just as common is the payoff to be Second Place Is for Winners, become a Victorious Loser, or earn a Consolation Prize. Then again, Underdogs Never Lose and The Good Guys Always Win.
Expect to find all the Animal Stereotypes (especially Dog Stereotype and Cat Stereotype) that can possibly be fit in. Bonus points if there's a Sapient Pet involved giving commentary from their perspective.
- In Gintama, Katsura enters his pet Elizabeth in a contest to prove him best. The main protagonists enters their to prove the same.
- In the anime adaptation of Mega Man Star Force, Omega-Xis breaks Geo's EM telescope while taking the lawnmower out for a joyride. Conveniently, there's an EM pet show happening the day after with an identical telescope as the prize. Cue Geo forcing Omega-Xis to play the part of an EM dog to win that telescope. Their efforts are sidetracked by Wolf's participation in the same show while hiding from Omega-Xis, which ends with an all-out brawl as Wolf goes berserk when he sees the full moon.
- In a Garfield strip, Garfield gets taken to a cat show, but there are too many cats and the table gets weighed down.
- The plot of the movie Best in Show features five dogs and their owners who enter a Dog Show.
- The 1966 Disney film The Ugly Dachshund concludes with the title dog (actually a Great Dane) being entered in a dog show, where he meets a female Great Dane and learns to Be Yourself.
- In the Mog book "Mog's Bad Thing", there's an unusual cat competition, which Mog wins by jumping out of the window and falling through a hole in the tent roof.
- An episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch has Sabrina entering Salem in a cat show to win a cash prize of $500 and discover that the judge is being blackmailed by one of the contestants. They manage to find the blackmailer, and Sabrina herself ends up winning the contest after transforming herself into a cat earlier in the episode.
- In Sex and the City Charlotte adopts a former show dog and decides to enter it in a dog show, only to find out the dog is currently in heat. She ends up winning the dog show anyway.
- Day of the Tentacle has a puzzle involving one of these. However, it takes place in a Bad Future ruled by anthropomorphic tentacles and the entries are humans.
- The Strong Bad Email "Pet Show" revolves around Strong Bad entering The Cheat in the "Best in Sheen" category at a pet show. Given that this is Strong Bad and The Cheat, they try to sabotage most of the other entrants (and one of the judges who has a grudge against them) but end up losing to Homestar when he sabotages them.
- The The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron episode, "Best in Show" begins with Jimmy entering Goddard, his pet robot dog in the Retroville pet show, and competing against Cindy, who enters Humphrey, her pet English Bulldog. The other entries at the pet show include Yoko, Butch's Japanese fighting fish, Tito, Sheen's worm, and Yuri, Bolbi's pet goat who can play flutes with her nostrils. Goddard appears to win the pet show at first, but Cindy points out that Goddard is a machine and technically not a live animal. This results in Goddard being disqualified and Humphrey winning the pet show by default.
- An episode of Arthur has Pal and Amigo wanting to enter in a pet contest. However, they can't because they are not purebreds. Luckily Killer is and enters to beat another arrogant opponent.
- In Big City Greens episode "Tilly's Goat" Tilly let's her goat compete in the Big City Dog Show. Why? Cause she claims it has the soul of a dog.
- Classic Disney Shorts:
- In "Society Dog Show", Mickey enters Pluto in a ritzy dog show and while being groomed, Pluto starts swooning over a small female dog. When the judge looks over Pluto, the dog attacks the him and he has Mickey and Pluto thrown out. A fire breaks out and Pluto rushes into the burning building to rescue the female dog and afterwards he's awarded a medal for heroism.
- In "Purple Pluto" when Mickey is preparing to enter Pluto in a dog show, Minnie offers to give him a bath, but accidentally shampoos him with purple hair dye. Minnie tries to fix the problem by painting Pluto with "Pluto color paint", but the dry pain leaves him unable to move. During the show when the paint cracks off, the judges mistake Pluto for a rare dog breed and that, along with the tricks Mickey taught him, help Pluto win the dog show.
- The Doug episode "Doug's Pet Capades" has Doug entering Porkchop in a pet show with Skeeter and Larry, and starts acting like a Prima Donna Director out his desire to beat Roger and his cat Stinky.
- The Family Guy episode "Brian: Portrait of a Dog" has Peter enter Brian in a dog show in order to win money for a new air conditioner, until Brian quits, refusing to "perpetuate the stereotype of the 'good dog'".
- In another episode, Brian falls in love with a female veteran show dog called Ellie and enters a dog show to impress her he wins and finds out that he'll be made to breed with Ellie.
- In an early Futurama episode, two characters enter "pets" into a pet show:
- Leela enters Nibbler, despite him not knowing any tricks or having any real training. He ends up winning the award for "Dumbest Animal in Show" and gets a dunce cap as a "prize".
- Bender enters Doctor Zoidberg (who is a fully sentient Humanoid Alien) into the show with the intent of splitting the prize with Zoidberg. Bender gets the cash prize, Zoidberg gets the year supply of dogfood. Zoidberg comes in second place, which wins them an afghan (blanket) made from an afghan (dog breed).
- First prize is naturally claimed by our glorious lord and master, The Hypno Toad.
- Garfield and Friends: In Best of Breed, Garfield becomes envious over the many awards that his nemesis Nermal has won and enters a cat talent show himself, only to (coincidentally) be pitted against Nermal.
- In the Garfield special Garfield Goes Hollywood, Garfield and Odie enter a local TV talent show called Pet Search, where the winners can go on to the national finals in Hollywood. Garfield and Odie win handily due to the low bar set by the other contestants, but in Hollywood, the competition is extremely stiff, and their tango act is placed second after a cat who sings opera.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Tween Wolf", Irwin gets turned into a werewolf and Billy, the idiot that he is, enters him in the local dog show.
- In the League of Super Evil episode "Evilest in Show", the league enter Doomageddon in a pet show, and since their villains they try sabotaging the other pets to make should their Doomhound win.
- In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Yapper", Lilo enters Stitch (who is an alien adopted as her "dog") in a dog show in Honolulu in hopes of winning against Mertle and her new dog Gigi (who is actually one of Stitch's experiment "cousins" who happens to look like a Shih Tzu).
- In the Martha Speaks episode "Best in Show", Helen enters her dog Martha into a dog show and her cousin Carolina enters the teacher's dog Francois.
- In the Mickey Mouse (2013) short "Dog Show", when Pluto gets injured and is unable to compete in a dog show, Mickey decides to have Goofy take his place since he is, in fact, a dog.
- In a Peppa Pig episode, the kids enter their pets in a pet show, except for one who has no pet and enters a toy monkey instead. The pets all win a prize for "Best [species]" and the monkey wins a prize for "Best Pretend Monkey".
- In the Rugrats episode, "Bestest of Show", the babies and their parents go to a pet show. While Stu and Chas compete against each other over whether Spiffy or Puppy will win the trophy, Tommy, Chuckie, and Kimi try their best to train the puppies and make them look good for the pet show. Meanwhile, Angelica enters Fluffy, her pet cat, and Susie enters Herbie, her pet gerbil who can ride a tricycle. At the end of the episode, Herbie wins the Best Pet category, Spiffy wins the Most Friendly Pet category, and Puppy wins the Most Unique Pet category. Fluffy is the only pet who doesn't win any of the categories, much to the ire of Angelica.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- When Squidward gets a new snail, Snelly, and brags about her pedigree (in comparison to Gary being a mutt) and how he's having her race in a snail race, SpongeBob decides to enter Gary in the race too and becomes a Stage Mom. Due to being exhausted and stressed, Gary literally breaks down during the race and only then does SpongeBob realize how hard he's been on Gary. Snelly forfeits her first place lead to go back and comfort Gary, which causes Patrick's pet rock to win.
- In another episode, SpongeBob decides to enter Gary in a pet show after seeing a bunch of upper class fish bragging about how sophisticated their pure pedigree pets are. Gary is groomed and given a bunch of accessories (including a tight collar and a terrible wig), much to his discomfort. When the judge comes around, Gary snaps and bites him when they try to touch him in a sensitive spot, then starts a riot among the pets (who reveal that they've been very uncomfortable with their grooming as well) to turn against their owners. SpongeBob realizes he and the other owners were wrong and makes a speech explaining this to the owners, which pacifies the pets. The judge then announces that it's clear who the real winner is... Patrick (who has been pretending to be a dog/worm earlier in the episode) for being adorable.