About Dog Show Competitions
There are various types of dog related events designed to look at the physical
attributes of a dog and to test working abilities. When most people say "Dog
Show," they are referring to a Conformation Show. If you have ever seen the
Westminster Kennel Club show or Crufts (from the United Kingdom), they are
examples of very large Conformation shows.
Dogs in some rings are of the same breed, dogs in others are not. So many
dogs look alike. How does the judge tell the difference? Let us look at a
typical Conformation dog show.
Orginally, dog shows were developed to highlight Sporting breeds. In early
United States dog shows, there were two groupings: Sporting and everything
else, or Non-Sporting. Sporting dogs were dogs bred to help the huntsman
while Non-Sporting encompassed all other breeds. Eventually, Non-Sporting
would be divided into various groups such as Hounds, Herding, Working, Terriers,
Toy, and Non-Sporting.
The first level of competition in a Conformation Show is the classes. None
of the dogs in the classes are champions of record.
Dogs will start in one of several classes including but not limited to: Puppy
6-9 Months; Puppy 9-12 Months; Puppy 12-18 Months; Novice; Bred By Exhibitor;
American Bred; Open.
These classes are divided by gender so all males (called dogs in the dog
show world) will compete in their classes. Then all the bitches (females)
There may be other subdivisions based on size or coat type within a breed.
Some breeds have different varieties based on coat type, color or size.
The best dogs from each class will compete for Winners Dog and the best bitches
from the classes will compete for Winners Bitch.
Class judging is done dog against dog, and dog against the Standard. The
dog (or bitch) in each class that comes closest to the standard over all
the others, will win the class. The class winners will compete against each
other for Winners Dog and Winners Bitch. There are championship points awarded
for Winners Dog or Winners Bitch. The number of points is determined by the
number of overall dogs or bitches defeated. A dog becomes a champion after
accumulating 15 points, including two majors (a win of three points to five
Best of Breed
The Best of Breed competition is not divided by gender. All dogs (in this
case, either gender) in this class are champions of record as well as Winner's
Dog and Winner's Bitch. From this class there will be Best of Winners (chosen
from the WD or WB), Best Opposite Sex (the opposite gender from Best of Breed)
and Best of Breed. Best of Breed can be Winners Dog or Winners Bitch.
From Best of Breed we go to the Groups. Groups are collections of dogs that
do similar jobs.
In the American Kennel Club, there are seven groups: Sporting, Hound, Working,
Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding. For example, the Herding Group is
dogs of various breeds that were bred to work livestock. The Terrier Group
is the various breeds often developed to hunt vermin.
Here, the judge has to decide what dog comes closest to its particular standard
as compared to the other breeds and their standards. Is the Rough Collie
closer to its standard than the Belgian Shepherd is to its standard? From
the various breeds in the Group, will come the Group Winner.
Best in Show
Now we come to the biggie! Best in Show! The seven group winners go back
into the ring to compete. As with the Groups, the dogs are judged based on
how close they are to their individual standard as compared to the others.
It can sometimes come down to which dog just seems to "want" the win. What
dog is really enjoying himself and playing up on that day? The dog that fits
their standard the closest in the judge's mind will take Best in Show.