What's the purpose of a dog show? Why show in the first place? What does it all mean? If you were wondering about any of this, you've come to the right place! The purpose of dog shows goes way back in time.....as long as there have been sporting men, there have been competitions of some sort. Imagine this....two farmers meet out in the field one day and they start talking. One mentions his hen house was raided by a fox. The other brags he never worries about foxes because his "Rascal", a terrier is the best in the land on varmints. Next thing you know the other farmer has himself a terrier and the competition begins! Dog shows had humble beginnings as folk got together with someone they all respected to determine just who had the best dog. Nowadays, dog shows are big business with shows being held all over the world. Here in the USA, there are a couple of governing bodies that allow shows to be held under their auspices. The AKC, the UKC, the SKC and the FCI to name a few. For my purposes, I'm sticking with AKC, as that's the one I am most familiar with and I suppose you are too! The sport of dog showing is great for two reasons: the competition and the beautiful animals! AKC has several types of shows where AKC-registered dogs can compete, but normally, the term - dog show is reserved for conformation or the overall appearance and structure of a dog and how well it conforms to it's breed standard. All AKC breeds have a standard of perfection and these can easily be found in the AKC's Dog Book.These official standards are maintained by each breed's national club . When you go to a local show, here's what's going on.......
The Judge's Role - The judges examine the dogs and place them according to how close each dog compares with the mental image of the breed's standard of perfection. Standards include descriptions for structure, temperament and movement. These standards were most likely written long, long ago and described the characteristics of dogs that best performed the function for which the breed was used. The judges are considered experts by virtue of their time and experience in the sport of dogs. Each judge must prove their knowledge of each individual breed and be tested on this knowledge before the AKC will "license" them to judge a breed. What you see in the ring is the judge examining each dog in profile for general balance and watching each dog gait, or move, to see how all of these things fit together in action. They also have to look at the dog's bite ( to see how the teeth align ) and feel for muscle conditioning and coat texture, if called for in the standard. There are 3 types of dog shows....Specialty shows - these shows are limited to dogs of a specific breed....like Beagles. Group shows - these are limited to dogs from one of the seven groups, like terriers. All-Breed shows - these are open to all breeds and are the ones you'll most likely visit.
Dog shows are actually just a process of elimination. One dog will be declared the BEST IN SHOW at the end of the day, but along the way there will be dogs accumulating points toward the title of Champion! Most of the dogs are there to compete for points. It takes 15 points, including two majors ( majors are wins of 3,4 or 5 points) under at least 3 different judges to become a Champion of Record. Dogs that attain their championship are allowed the designation of "Ch" before their name. At one show, a dog can earn from 1 to 5 points toward it's title. All depends on the number of males or females in actual competition in the breed. How many it takes depends on the section of the country you are in. The number of dogs for each point division can be found by looking in the catalog for that show at the end of each breed's entry. Once a dog becomes a champion, it can continue to compete for Best of Breed without having to win in other classes.
Types of classes - The regular classes are usually divided into puppy, 12-18 mos., novice, bred-by-exhibitor, american-bred and open. In addition, males (dogs) and females (bitches) are judged separately for points.
After these classes are judged, all the first place winners compete to see who is the best of the winners. This is done in both the males and female competitions. The dog and bitch chosen as best, ie Winner's Dog &/or Winner's Bitch receive the points. A reserve winner is given in each sex to the runner-up and in case of a mis-entry or something else, will receive the points....minus the winning dog. The WD and WB get to then go on to compete for Best of Breed and the right to represent it's breed in the Group. In addition to BOB, there is Best of Winners - the dog judged as the best between the WD and WB. Best of Opposite Sex - the best dog that is the opposite sex of the Best of Breed winner. Each AKC recognized breed fits into one of 7 group classifications. Only 4 placements are awarded in each group and only the first place winner advances to the Best In Show competition. The 7 groups are: