The World of Dog Shows
Showing dogs is a great sport where the thrill of competition is combined with the joy of seeing beautiful dogs. Dog shows are one of many types of AKC dog events in which AKC-registered dogs can compete. These events, which draw more than three million entries annually, include dog shows and tests of instinct and trainability, such as obedience trials, Canine Good Citizen® tests, field trials, agility trials, lure coursing, hunting tests, herding trials, tracking tests, and coon-hound and earthdog events.
Dog shows (conformation events) are intended to evaluate breeding stock. The size of these events ranges from large all-breed shows, with over 3,000 dogs entered, to small local specialty club shows, featuring a specific breed. The dog’s conformation (overall appearance and structure), is an indication of the dog’s ability to produce quality puppies.
There are three types of conformation dog shows:
All-breed shows offer competitions for nearly 200 breeds and varieties of dogs recognized by the AKC. All-breed shows are the type often shown on television.
Specialty shows are restricted to dogs of a specific breed or to varieties of one breed. For example, the Bulldog Club of America Specialty is for Bulldogs only, but the Poodle Club of America’s specialty show includes the three varieties of the Poodle – Standard, Miniature, and Toy.
Group shows are limited to dogs belonging to one of the seven groups. For example, the Potomac Hound Group show features only breeds belonging to the Hound group.
The Road to Best In Show
Dog shows are a process of elimination, with one dog being named Best in Show and one dog as Reserve Best in Show at the end of any AllBreed Show and those Limited Breed Shows allowed awarding a Best in Show.
Only the Best of Breed winners advance to compete in the Group competitions. Each AKC-recognized breed falls into one of seven group classifications. The
seven groups are Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding. Four placements are awarded in each group, but only the first-place
winner advances to the Best in Show competition.
Dog Show Terms
Angulation – Angles created by bones meeting at their joints.
Baiting – Using liver or some treat to get the dog’s attention and have him look alert.
Bench show – A dog show at which the dogs are kept on assigned benches when not being shown in competition, so they can be viewed and discussed by
attendees, exhibitors and breeders.
Exhibitor – A person who brings a dog to a dog show and shows it in the appropriate class.
Fancier – A person who is especially interested, and usually active, in some phase of the sport of purebred dogs.
Gait – The way a dog moves; movement is a good indicator of structure and condition.
Groom – To brush, comb, trim or otherwise make a dog’s coat neat.
Handler – A person or agent who takes a dog into the show ring or who works the dog at a field trial or other performance event.
Heel – A command to a dog to keep close beside its handler.
Match Show – A usually informal dog show at which no championship points are awarded.
Miscellaneous Class – Transitional class for breeds attempting to advance to full AKC recognition.
Pedigree – The written record of a dog’s family tree of three or more generations.
Points – Credits earned toward a championship.
Soundness – Mental and physical well-being.
Stacking – Posing the dog’s legs and body to create a pleasing picture.
See more information at AKC’s “A Beginner’s Guide to Dog Show”.