A great sport for the entire family, dog shows combine the thrill of competition with the joy of seeing beautiful dogs. By offering something for everyone, the popularity of dog shows (called Conformation Competitions) has skyrocketed during the past 70 years — the number of dogs competing in shows has jumped from 40,000 in 1930 to nearly three million in 2005.
Like any sport, knowing the rules makes it more enjoyable to watch. Below are some tips to get you started:
- A conformation show allows breeders to evaluate the success of their breeding program as well as the dogs for use as future breeding stock
- Entrants are whittled down through the process of elimination, with one dog being named "Best in Show"
- Judging of the dogs is based on the official written breed standard as specified by the breed's parent club
- The standard outlines a breed's overall appearance, structure form, movement and temperament. In competition, the judge evaluates each dog against the written standard — not other dogs
- First, all dogs of the same breed are judged. To the untrained eye they may all look similar but to judges and breeders who spend their lives trying to attain a perfect example of their breed, there are subtle nuances which can mean the difference between first and second place
- Only the "Best of Breed" winners advance to the group competition. Each AKC-registered breed falls into one of seven Group classifications:
- Sporting: developed for hunting feathered game
- Hounds: bred for hunting by sight or scent
- Working: used to pull carts, guard property, and for search and rescue work
- Terriers: originally bred to hunt vermin
- Toy: characterized by their very small size
- Non-Sporting: diverse group of multi-functional dogs
- Herding: bred to drive livestock from one place to another
- In group competition, all breeds of a particular group are judged together. In the Hound Group, for example, which includes dogs such as Beagles and Greyhounds, the winning dogs of each breed compete against one another for the "Group First" award.
- Finally, the group winner from each of the seven groups advances to the Best in Show competition, the highest award at a dog show.
To find out more about dog shows and breed standards, visit:
www.akc.org/events and http://www.akc.org/events/conformation/beginners.cfm
© 2009 The American Kennel Club, Inc.