At the beginning of the month, I posted some pictures from the Detroit Kennel Club Show, here. Several people commented that they had never been to a show or didn’t understand how they worked. When we started to show Thunder, I was in the same boat. Dog shows were very confusing. Why did some of the dogs keep going back into the ring? Why did the people make the dogs run around and around the ring? What was the judge looking for when he or she felt the dog all over? Why does the judge look into the dog’s mouth? I am no expert, and really am only familiar with Chessies, but here are some of the basics.
First thing to do is to figure out how to enter a show.
Dog shows are held by clubs. Shows may be just for one breed (called a “Specialty Show”) or they may be for all AKC recognized breeds (called “All Breed Shows”) and sometimes they are for a specific group of dogs, (say the “Sporting Group” or the “Hound Group”). When a club puts on a show, they have to put out a “Premium List”. The AKC has specific requirements for what has to be in the Premium List, but generally it contains all of the specifics of a show such as the time, date, location of the show and the date and time that entries close. It also lists the names of the judges, and the prizes offered, (the AKC also has minimum requirements for prize ribbons). The Premium also lists the classes (or entry categories) being offered for conformation and if there is Rally, or Obedience or Agility offered, that will also be listed. Basically all the information about the show is contained in the Premium List. Here is a PDF example of a Premium List for an upcoming show.
The regular classes that are generally offered at each show are:
- Puppy, 6 & Under 9 Months
- Puppy, 9 & Under 12 Months
- Dogs/Bitches, 12 & Under 18 Months
- Bred by Exhibitor
The classes that the AKC requires to be offered are in blue. The others are optional, but most are offered at most shows. The classes are divided by sex, meaning that males compete against males and females against females. Sometimes the classes are further divided for certain breeds, say by color. coat, or size. If so, it will be listed in the Premium List. The dogs in each class compete against one another. Then each dog who has placed first in its class competes against the others who have placed first in their class until one is awarded “Winner’s Dog”. The bitches do the same until one is awarded “Winner’s Bitch”. Championship points are awarded to “Winner’s Dog” and “Winner’s Bitch”. The number of points depends on the number of dogs/bitches the winner has defeated.
Sometimes a breed club will help out the club holding a show and offer larger ribbons or additional prizes for placements at a show. This is called a “Supported Entry”. At Supported Entries, sometimes Non-regular classes are offered. For Chessies non-regular classes may include Hunting Dogs and Bitches, (must have a hunting title), Field Trial Dogs and Bitches, (must have field trial placements) and Veteran Dogs and Bitches, (7 or 8 years old and up, may be further divided by age). Dogs do not earn points toward their championship from Non-Regular classes; however, if they win their class they advance to the Best of Breed competition.
In addition to all of the classes (regular and non-regular) a dog/bitch can also be entered in Best of Breed. These are dogs/bitches who have already earned their championship, (called “Specials”). Should a dog/bitch win “Best of Breed” it would advance to compete in the Group competition with the Group winners competing for Best in Show.
Sometimes when there is a Supported Entry there is also a Puppy and Veterans Sweepstakes. This is a separate entry and the prizes include a cut of the entry money, (in addition to other prizes and ribbons). No points are earned by winning a Sweepstakes, just the prizes and bragging rights. The club supporting the entry donates the prizes, which usually means individual members of the club will donate prizes/ribbons for both the Sweepstakes and the Classes/Best of Breed.
These are the basic ways to enter a dog show. Next week what happens in the ring. Tomorrow, I hope to have some follow-up and answer some of the questions from comments. Hopefully…