What Happens At A
Dog Show

I Want To Go To A
Dog Show (THE

Bitch Is Not A Dirty Word (LEARNING

What Is Going On In:

The Breed Ring

The Obedience Ring

The Grooming Areas



Dog shows have their own unique vocabulary, just like tennis or golf or horses, or any of the other special interests we pursue in our spare time. A bitch is a female canine; a dog is a male.

All-Breed Show - Show given by an all-breed kennel club.

Articles - Cotton gloves and metal objects (often dumbells) which are used in the scent discrimination exercises in utility level obedience.

Benched show - Show where all the dogs entered are assigned space in a given area on the "benching" and are required to stay there for the day, so that spectators can find an example of the breed any time during the day, not just at the breed's scheduled ring time. Benched shows have become quite rare.

Brace - Brace competition, two dogs of the same breed are shown at one time by one handler; this pair is judged on overall quality as well as similarity to each other.

Big Rigs and Little Rigs

Campaign - A dog which is a champion, which is being shown at the Best of Breed and Group level is called a 'special'; he is being 'specialed'. A dog being 'heavily specialed' is being 'campaigned'.

Chipped - Microchipped; bionic dogs identified with an electronic id chip.

CGC - Canine Good Citizen; a certificate and title given to dogs who pass minimal standards for "good behavior".

Choke - Kind of collar; tension tightens the collar so the dog cannot back out and get loose; may be metal or nylon

Closing date - the date after which entries for a show will no longer be accepted. Usually 3 weeks before the show date; in 'limited' entry shows - usually due to space at the show site - shows may close earlier, once the 'limit' of entries is reached. Limited shows should be entered early.

Crate - cage

Ex - not a former spouse; short for exercise, a euphemism for taking the dog out to perform its eliminatory functions

Finish - in obedience, a command which sends the dog to sit at the exhibitor's side; otherwise, to finish a Championship or other title. "Is he finished?"

Flexi - a popular type of spring loaded leash for exercising dogs

Greyhound - A breed of dog and a kind of metal comb

Handler - person who shows dogs for other people; professional handler. May also board, train and groom their charges, or may pick the dog up at the ringside from the owner.

Junior - Junior handler; competitive classes in different age divisions are offered for young people who are judged on their handling skills, not on their dog.

Futurity - Another non-regular set of classes (similar to sweepstakes) which do not contribute to point totals or make a dog eligible for the 'winners' class. For futurities, the mother of a litter is nominated and a fee paid before she whelps a litter, the litter is entered in it's first 6 months of life, and individuals are entered at the normal time for show entries; builds up a sum of money - virtually the only way in dogs that money can occasionally be won!

Martingale - type of show lead.

Owner-handler - The actual owner of the dog is the person taking him in the ring and presenting him to the judge, rather than a professional handler; breeder-owner-handler means that this person also bred the dog, didn't simply purchase it. A mark of presteige if the dog wins impressively, in that he did it without the benefit of a 'professional handler', e.g. he did it on his own. However, it is definitely the case that many owner-handlers are just as skilled as the best professional handlers.

Pin Brush - type of brush with straight wire teeth.

Pooper Scooper - Either the self-explanatory item of equipment or the person wielding it!

Resco - type of show lead, manufactured of strip of Naugahide.

Rig - anything from a mini-van with the seats out to a high top van with roof air, awning and crate Benching, to Greyhound Bus size motor homes.

Ringsiding - Delivering your dog to a professional handler just before going into the ring. The handler does not board, groom, train, or carry this dog in their 'rig'.

Slicker - type of brush with short bent wire teeth.

Snood - an elasticised cylinder of cloth, slips over the head of cockers, afghans, etc. to keep their ears out of food and water; often a fashion statement.

Special - Champion of Record, being shown at the Best of Breed, Group, BIS level

Specialty - Show given for just one breed sponsored by a "breed club"

Standard - the description of a breed which enables breeders and judges to evaluate the quality of an individual dog; AKC Breed Standard.

Stripper - blade for plucking the coat (terriers)

Sweepstakes - special classes held in conjunction with Specialty shows and some others, for 6 to 18 month old puppies and young adults; not a regular class, does not have a "winners" class, no points are awarded for competition.

Tack box- Whatever you carry all your grooming gear in

Water Hole - water bowl designed to keep ears and whiskers dry

Wheels - a flat, wheeled dolly, made to transport crates, grooming tables and other gear in from your car.

High Strung Show Dogs (!) Hanging Out At The Show

X- Pen - not related to X-Files; wire panels joined to make a light weight, moveable enclosure about 4' by 4' and of varying height. Allows dogs crated for a period of time to get out and stretch their legs without a lead on.

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Classes - those categories in conformation showing which dogs which are not Champions enter

Puppy - 6 months to 1 year of age

Novice - a dog which has not won points at a dog show

12 - 18 Months - a class which is not always available, usually available at Specialty shows, check premium list

Bred By Exhibitor - owned and handled by the breeder

American Bred - born in the United States

Open - any dog eligible to show under AKC rules

Veteran - a non - regular class, available if stated in premium list, usually at specialty shows; age varies with breed, often 7 years and older.

CH - Champion of Record - a dog which has earned an AKC championship in conformation

DC - Dual Champion (FC and CH)

TC - Triple Champion (CH, FC, OTCH)

Conformation- competition in structure to determine soundness and degree to which the dog conforms to the Breed Standard. No rigorous training required, basically good manners and a few special tricks of the trade to help the dog move at his best and stand looking his best.



CD - Companion Dog, the lowest obedience competition title. Includes sitting, heeling, lying down, come, stay, stand exercises.

CDX - the intermediate obedience title, Companion Dog Excellent; includes the former plus jumping over hurdles and broad jumps, and retrieving over jumps.

UD - Utility Dog, highest level of obedience, including all of the former and scent discrimination. Good training for drug sniffing and search and rescue dogs.(See "Articles")

UDX - Utility Dog Excellent

OTCH- Obedience Trial Champion

TD- Tracking Dog, title involving scent discrimination in the field, i.e. outdoors over a distance

TDX - Tracking Dog Excellent

VST - Variable Surface Tracker, good training for drug sniffers and search and rescue dogs.

Obedience- competition involving heeling, commands such as "come", "sit", "stay", "down", jumping over hurdles, finding an article scented by the handler, and much more. May be easily mastered in steps of increasing difficulty, without special equipment or unreasonable time involvement. Many levels, may be enjoyed for years.



FC - Field Champion; Field Trial (sporting) or Lure Coursing (sight hounds)

AFC - Amateur Field Champion; dog has won a trial handled by an amateur

NAFC - National Field Champion; dog has won a trial in competition with both amateur and professional handlers

JH - Junior Hunter; 4 qualifying legs at the begining level

SH - Senior Hunter; more qualifying legs at the intermetiate level

MH - Master Hunter; qualifying legs at the highest level of difficulty

Hunting- Dogs are tested on retrieving, pointing, flushing, quartering and general steadiness, involving the sound of a starter's pistol and retrieving on land and in water. Different breeds - setters, pointers, retrievers, etc. specialize in one or more of the above skills. Months or years of training. A very large time commitment.



(Non trial level designations)

HT - Herding Tested; involves the dog's ability to move sheep and change their direction, while being responsive to the handlers control.

PT - Pre-Trial Tested

(Trial level designations)

HS - Herding Started- ability to gather and move sheep through gates and chutes, handler working close to dog.

HI - Herding Intermediate - the above at a somewhat higher level, with part of the course being run with the handler at a moderate distance from the dog.

HX - Herding excellent - the dog works well away from the handler at all times.

Herding - dogs are tested on instinct and training; ability to gather, contain and drive sheep. Months to years of training working with sheep. Travel usually required just for sheep access and training.



JC - Junior Courser

SC - Senior Courser




NA - Novice Agility

OA - Open Agility

AX - Agility Excellent

MX - Master Agility

Agility - tests a dogs physical ability and speed going over a course with elevated walks, A-frames, teeter toters, tunnels, jumps, and more. The canine version of the US Marine obstacle course! Loads of fun for man and dog. A great way to introduce young dogs to obedience; control and responsiveness to commands and attention to detail, control training balanced by great fun with the obstacles. My personal favorite type of field/obedience activity.


JUNIOR EARTHDOG (Terriers - Go-To-Ground )

JE - Junior Earthdog

SE - Senior Earthdog

ME - Master Earthdog

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© M. C. Wakeman, D.V.M. 3/97- 2002 - Site Designed by Mica Media