In my opinion the above question has never been satisfactorily answered. One theory is that dog showing is a means to improve the quality of all breeds. However, we all know, or should know, that the biggest winners are not necessarily the best producers.
To validate this line of reasoning, each animal would have to be judged by a representative selection of offspring. Quite a lot of "winners" are "flyers".
Psychologists will argue that there are some of us who need to engage in some type of competitive endeavour, but are reluctant to expose ourselves to possible failure. Dog showing can be the means to accomplish this without endangering our fragile egos. Although winning reflects favourably on the owner, losing can always be blamed on the dog. (how many times has this been evident with certain exhibitors?) The ‘win at all cost’ attitude, along with the frequently touted ‘killer instinct’ can again be attributed to egotistical exhibitors, who have the same problem no matter what competition they enter into?
There is a certain percentage of the dog showing fraternity who shows to enjoy the recreational aspect. Dog shows also provide a social catalyst, creating the unique opportunity of meeting people from diverse social backgrounds who they might not otherwise encounter. In this case, winning or losing is a secondary consideration. (Long live our Social Club.) This may be the reason some people persist with what is often an inferior specimen, when, for the same capital outlay, along with the effort they put into showing, they could have purchased a far better dog.
Breeding and/or showing winners may satisfy a need for creative or artistic self-expression, derived from successful breeding experiments and/or showing successes.
Personally I believe that pride is a chief motivating factor. Many people start exhibiting their dogs simply because they love and are proud of their dogs. What better reason? This is possibly why novices who don’t receive some sort of encouragement soon drop out of the show scene. Whatever the answer, I trust you may derive as much satisfaction and enjoyment from dog showing as I have over the past 19 years. = Ed.