Dog And Pony Show

Idiom from the late 1800’s.

Meaning of Idiom ‘Dog and Pony Show’

A dog and pony show is a presentation, marketing event, or any other event which has a lot of style and seems very polished and professional, but which has no real content. In a dog and pony show, no real information is presented, and nothing much is accomplished. This usually refers to political events or sales events.

A synonym for bells and whistles. A related idiom, now defunct, is put on the dog.

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Examples Of Use

“I hate these corporate events. They’re nothing but dog and pony shows.”

“Jerry’s presentation was just a dog and pony show. He wasn’t even able to answer the questions!”

“I shouldn’t have bothered going to that grand opening…such a dog and pony show.”

Gentry Bros circus, dog and pony show
The Gentry Bros Circus was just the kind of show from which ‘dog and pony show’ originated. The circus started as a dog and pony show, in fact.


This idiom derives from traveling circuses or fairs of the late 1800’s. Sometimes included as a main attraction, if not a sideshow, were shows featuring performing animals which were actually only trained ponies and dogs. These shows, which came to be referred to as dog and pony shows, were low budget and although the dogs and ponies were well-trained, as animal shows go, they weren’t what one would expect, being so common and mundane. The shows would be pumped up to seem very exciting.

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