What Is Going On In:
The Breed Ring
The Obedience Ring
The Grooming Areas
WHAT HAPPENS AT A DOG SHOW?
Waiting their turn in the ring.
PANDEMONIUM! You enter the building and there are people rushing everywhere, carrying dogs, leading dogs, and running to the ring. Dogs are barking, the public address system is blaring, and people are talking, it seems like everyone in the building is talking all the time! How can you make some sense of it all and start to figure out what's going on? First look or ask around for the superintendent or club or catalog table. Once you find the superintendent, you will find a pile of extra judging programs. Or, if you are looking for a breeder of a certain individual dog or breed, buy a catalog. The catalog has all the information in the judging program, plus it has the name of each dog, its parents, its date of birth, breeder and owner. In the back of the catalog, you will find the addresses of the owners. These addresses will be invaluable to you if you are looking for a puppy or a breeder. Even if you didn't connect with anyone in all the confusion of the show, you can call information and find their phone number later. If the first person you contact doesn't know where there is a litter of good puppies, they will send you on to another person, and eventually you will find the breeder and the puppy you are looking for.
With the judging program or the information in the front of the catalog, you can locate where certain breeds will be showing at a certain time. There will be a ring number and time of judging listed in the program for each breed. It's often impossible to locate someone with a breed you are interested in by cruising the grooming area, so it's a good idea to come early - usually 8:30 or 9:00 AM, so you don't miss what you really want to see. And, it's a good idea to plan to stay late, so you can see the whole event to its grand conclusion, the groups and best in show.
View of the grooming are at a large indoor show.
At most dog shows events are offered in conformation and obedience. There may also be an agility trial. The original basis for showing dogs, like other livestock, is to judge which individuals display the structure that suits the dog for its typical tasks. The way we know what characteristics do this is by comparing an individual to the breed standard, which defines the breed. Ideally, this standard will be well written and will enable the judge to tell which dogs come the closest, and are therefore best suited for the tasks ahead of them.
Show dogs can also be working dogs.
A dog which has to herd sheep all day long (a herding dog) has different characteristics from a dog whose job it is to go down into a badger's den and drive the animal out (a terrier breed). A sight hound, which hunts visually, will have a different structure from a scent hound or sporting breed that uses its nose to find its prey. A toy, bred to sit on someone's lap, would have different structure than a mastiff, which is a guardian or a working breed. Each herding breed has a different job. The Puli's task is the control and movement of large flocks of 300 to 400 sheep in Hungary, while the Border Collie often searches out single ewes and lambs on difficult and often rocky terrain. The Puli is very vocal, since as a 30 pound dog in control of so many mindless sheep he must appear very powerful to them. These large numbers of sheep move as a single unit; Continental sheep like to stick together. The Border Collie is faced with sheep that like to scatter, as the pasture in Scotland is not so lush. The Border Collie approaches his sheep circumspectly, staring at them and creeping slowly up on them. These different approaches make different demands, both structural and behavioral, on the dogs. The appearance of different breeds also reflects what the breeders feel is attractive.
The objective of conformation classes is to identify dogs most suitable to breed and produce the next generations. The most important objective of obedience and agility, as well as the many other kinds of trial, such as hunting, herding and go to ground (terrier-earth dog events), is to identify the inner character and ability of the dog, which combined with the structure, produces the ideal animal. In all dog show related activities, however, whether obedience, conformation, or working events, and so forth, the second most important objective is having good clean family fun.
Dog Fancy enthusiasts attend shows every weekend. They meet friends, enjoy themselves, and compete on a very personal level, through their dogs. They may take their dogs in the ring themselves, or they may hire a professional handler. They may own one dog, a leash, and a hatchback, or 30 dogs, hundreds of pounds of equipment, and a Greyhound Bus size motor home. You never know at a show if you're standing next to a millionaire or a pauper. Well, sometimes you do know; however, often you truly don't. The point is you can attend with just your dog and a leash, and you can also win. You can have your son or daughter compete in Junior Showmanship or in the actual "breed" ring. There are so many levels of competition and so many different kinds of events that you can spend a lifetime shepherding one or many dogs through them. Dog showing for most of us is much more than a hobby, it's a lifestyle.
In the conformation ring, (the 'breed' ring), there are several different levels of competition. First, there are the dogs that are not Champions of record. These dogs compete at what's called the 'class' level, and are working toward their Champion title. They may enter the Puppy class, Novice, American Bred, Bred By Exhibitor, or the Open class. Males and females compete separately at this level. The size of the entry has a lot to do with whether all of these classes will actually have an entry at a given show. If there are only 2 dogs entered, obviously not every class will have an entry. However, each class is always available to the exhibitor to enter their dog in.
In each class there are 4 placements awarded. The first place animal from each class goes on to what is called the 'Winners' class. We still have the males and females separate here. Males are called 'dogs' and females are called 'bitches'. The dogs and bitches are still separated in the winners classes. All of these first place individuals compete as a class, and the winner is called the Winners Dog or the Winners Bitch. A Reserve Winners Dog and Bitch are also selected. The two Winners are the only dogs to earn points toward a Championship.
The number of points earned is dependent on how many were entered in all of the classes. There may be many dogs entered, and the points awarded might be 5, which is the highest number of points that can be earned at one show. There may only be a few and worth only 1 or 2 points, or none at all. A win of 3,4 or 5 points is termed a 'major' win. A dog must win at 2 majors and collect a total of 15 points to earn a Championship. The 'point schedule' of how many entries are required to make up 1,2,3,4,and 5 points, varies in different regions of the country and in different years. Check the AKC pages for the current point schedule in your area.
At the next level of competition, the Winners Dog and the Winners Bitch and any Champions that are entered compete in intersex competition for: Best of Breed (BOB), Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed (BOS), and Best of Winners (BOW). Only the Winners Dog and Bitch can earn the Best of Winners award, but any of the individuals in the Best of Breed Class may win the BOB or BOS. Under some circumstances, extra points may be earned by one of the 'Winners' by going BOW, BOS, or BOB.
The individual that goes Best Of Breed is then eligible to show in the Group. For many of the Specials dogs (Champions being 'campaigned'), this is where the competition really begins.There are 7 Groups at a dog show; Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. Each BOB from the individual breeds which make up the Group competes for Group I, II, III, and IV. The dogs winning Group I in each of the 7 Groups then compete for Best in Show. In this manner, the Best In Show dog has defeated every other dog entered.
Beyond competing to finish championships, dogs compete to gain points toward informal national ratings at the Best of Breed level and at the Group and Best in Show level. These ratings have nothing to do with the AKC. They are compiled by dog publications or breed clubs and only convey prestige to the top dogs in the country.
AKC REGISTERED BREEDS BY GROUP
© M. C. Wakeman, D.V.M. 3/97- 2002 - Site Designed by Mica Media