The comedy is technically rated PG, however, one subplot in the movie has raised serious concerns for organisations including the US National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE.)
NCOSE expressed their concern in an official statement. Claiming their issue is with “multiple scenes where a dog character [Max] must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop, but is told to go to a ‘Zen place’."
“The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier. Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children — telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort,” said the group’s executive director Dawn Hawkins.
NCOSE's claims are being backed by parents online as well as reviewers who have hit back at the film.
"I'm sure many people will feel that #parents are being too over-the-top about skipping #ShowDogs, but kids soak in what they see. When I preach that their body is theirs alone, why would I sit & laugh at a movie implying it's OK/funny to "grin and bare" inappropriate touching?" one Twitter user wrote.
While official review by Mum Blog Macaroni Kid noted, "What could have been solely a fun movie for kids that would get my highest recommendation is damaged by a dark and disturbing message hidden, not so subtly between the fluffy dogs and glamorous parties of the show dog lifestyle. As part of any dog show, contestants are judged on their abilities and physical attributes. One part, in particular, is the inspection of the dog's private parts."