Lucy you make important observations and I agree with you.
From a perspective of a dog buyer who expects a healthy and good behaving dog, dog shows should serve a purpose of evaluating breeding stock, it shouldn't be a beauty peagant. So if it has become a beauty peagant is should be made clear and it shouldn't be confused with anything else by the breeders or by the show community. As it is right now, it seems that a perfect dog will not pass unless it is over-groomed and over-handled. By that I want to point out trickery, which means knowing what to do and how to do it to give an impression that you have a perfect dog, whether or not it is actually perfect. For example, over scissoring of working breeds, or sheepdogs doesn't make sense. These dogs are supposed to be showned for their rugged nature, ability to withstand severe climates, good coats that don't require much work, and they shouldn't be shown after a time-consuming haircut. So lets make the purpose of a dog show clear, and let's not give so much credit to Champions since their ribbon represents beauty not hardiness, health, etc. I don't know why it is so difficult and expensive to show a dog in some places, whereas in other places average owners of pure-bred dogs usually show, handle and groom by themselves and even win at international competitions.
In the US, dog showing is a sport, with polics, and a business aspect. All the narrowing of the lines by breeding champions only, not having regard for average lines (in terms of looks, but with emphasis on health, with exceptionally low inbreeding ratio) does disservice to any breed. I have began to think that breeder requirements of spaying and neuting are not really about protecting breeds, but it's more about politics and profits. I'm not protecting puppy mills, by any means, but maybe the dogs they produced would be better off if the owners of puppy mills could actually get access to healthy dogs. Same goes for other types of breeders. There are so many people that could be more interested in showing and breeding, but they are not encouraged to show pure bred dogs because of spay and neuter requirements and for the same reason they are not allowed to breed. I understand why, but at the same time this narrows the lines and produces breeds with exadurated features and many problems. It will take decades to undue the bad practices of many breeders, just because they didn't show interest or they didn't support others in keeping average, but otherwise very healthy lines.