Thinking of a new family pet? Where better to check out different breeds of dogs than a dog show! You will have the chance to see over 100 breeds of dogs, talk to breeders and owners, possibly interact with some of the dogs (after they are done competing--always ask before touching someone's dog, if you can pet them or ask the handler a question), and then your family can make an informed decision. Not every breed is the right breed for every family.
Below is a brief explanation of a dog show...
What is a “dog show”?
It is an opportunity for purebred dog fanciers to have their dogs evaluated by a judge,
who compares each individual to a“standard”. Some dogs are competing for AKC
Championships, and those that are already Champions are competing for Best of
Breed, Group, and Best in Show.
What is a “standard”?
Each breed has a written description of the purpose the breed was created, and how an ideal specimen of that breed should look, behave, and move. The national “parent club” of each breed is responsible for their standard.
How does a dog become a “Champion”?
A dog competes against others of its breed and sex by an elimination process to obtain
points towards a championship. Points are awarded based on the number of that breed and sex in competition. A dog must win a total of 15 points awarded by a minimum of three judges to become a Champion, including 2 “major” wins [where there is enough
competition in that sex to earn 3 or more points], and the wins must be awarded by two different judges. The maximum number of points a dog may earn at one show is 5.
What is a “Grand Champion”?
Dogs who have already achieved their AKC Championships compete in the Best of Breed class for “Grand Champion” status by defeating other champions, and must win Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex, or Select to gain the points necessary for Grand Championship. To become a “Grand Champion”, a champion dog must win a minimum of 25 points, with 3 majors, and defeat other champions of its breed 3 times, all under a minimum of four judges. Once a dog achieves “Grand Championship”status, it may continue competing for four additional levels of Grand Champion: Bronze [100 GCh points], Silver [200 GCh points], Gold [400 GCh points], and Platinum [800 GCh points].
What is happening in the ring?
When spectators arrive at our show, they will see several rings in use for judging. By arriving earlier in the day, spectators can see many examples of each breed entered at the show. There is a “Judging Program” available which will provide the time, ring, and number of entries in a breed for the show.
When watching a breed being judged, each dog is entered in one class. The classes available are Puppy [may be divided to 6 mos.& under 9 mos., or 9mos. & 12 mos.], 12-18 Months [which may be divided 12 mos. & under 15 mos., or 15 mos. & under 18 mos.], Novice [has never won three blue ribbons], Amateur-Owner-Handler [the owner is the handler, and has never been paid to show dogs], Bred by Exhibitor [the person showing the dog is its owner, and owned the mother of the dog], American-Bred [dogs born in the US], and Open [which may be divided according to the individual breed standard].
First the non-champion males [called “dogs”] are judged. The entry for each class enters the ring for appraisal by the judge. The judge will examine each dog individually for structure, bite and dentition, and general preparation for the ring. He will also observe how the dog moves away and towards him, and how the dog moves in profile. After the judge has examined each animal in the ring, he will place them 1st -4t , with the 1st place now qualifying for the “Winners” class. From these first place winners, the judge will select the best non-champion dog as“Winners Dog”: this dog will be awarded points towards his
AKC championship [the judge will also select a “Reserve Winners” should something disqualify the Winners]. This process is now repeated with the females [called “bitches” in the proper use of the word!]. Both the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch have now qualified for competition with the existing Champions for Best of Breed. Again the procedure is the same: first the Champions [male and female] enter the ring, followed by the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch. The judge will make several selections: “Best of Breed” [this male or female is considered the best example of the breed in the ring and will represent the
breed in the later Group competition], “Best of Winners” [a competition strictly between the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch], Best of Opposite Sex [the best example of the breed not of the same sex as Best of Breed], Select Dog [second best male Champion] and Select Bitch [second best female Champion].
Each breed belongs to one of seven groups, with the group competition held after the
completion of the judging of the breeds. The representatives of each group will compete for 1st-4th place, with the winner qualifying for Best In Show competition. At the end of the day, the seven group winners again enter the ring, and the judge selects “Best In Show”, and “Reserve Best In Show”. That is how over a thousand entries are narrowed down to one!
To find out more: http://classic.akc.org/events/conformation/beginners.cfm
Dog show etiquette: http://classic.akc.org/pdfs/events/conformation/show_etiquette.pdf