Dog Show Primer

Welcome to the dog show! This is an AKC Conformation, Obedience, and Rally show.

Conformation- “Show dogs”- these dogs are being judged against a written standard of what their breed should look like. Judges all have over 12 years experience (usually closer to 30) in dog showing and breeding, and have undergone extensive study and testing. Judges choose which animal in the ring they think best represents the breed standard. Exhibitors are a mix of dog owners and breeders, and professional handlers. Professional handlers get paid to groom and/or show other people’s dogs.

If you are looking to find out what time a particular breed shows, check out the judging schedule. You can usually pick one of these up at the superintendent’s booth, or the announcer’s stand. Once you have found the ring number, you can check the program for better details of when dogs will be in the ring. Next to each breed, you will see a number that looks something like this: 3-1 (1-2) This indicates that there are 7 dogs entered in that breed. They broken into: Class Dogs-Class Bitches (Champion Dogs-Champion Bitches).

Wondering what’s going on in the ring? Check out this explanation of the classes you’ll see in the breed ring.

Obedience- These dogs have been trained to perform various exercises mimicking real-life scenarios. Some of these include walking around people on the street, staying directly beside the owner off-leash and coming when called. There are many levels of obedience competition, all with different requirements to pass. The expectation is that dogs trained properly will be controllable and safe under any circumstances. Find out more about obedience here.

Rally- Rally is a fun, new competition in which the dog and handler go through a course made of 10-20 “stations.” Each station has a sign that tells the handler what to have the dog do. Find out more about Rally here


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