Elements Of A Dog Show Explained
The classes and awards from a basic AKC conformation show
I have been asked by a hubber to explain the basic elements of a dog show. Here goes: I will do Conformation events in an AKC show since I know this best.
You start with entering your dog in a show by going to the AKC website, clicking on Events and then clicking your state to see what shows might be coming up in that state or in a nearby state. Make sure that the shows listed have not passed. They will give a link to an organization or club. From there you can go to the organization in charge of registering the dogs. See Onofrio.com, Infodog.com and there are others. This will give you an idea of what the sites look like. Each club tells you what registering organization they are using.
If you are planning on registering your dog for a show you need to have his AKC papers handy. When you get to the site to register him, they will ask you his name and registration number, his father and mothers name and his acceptance to AKC date as well as the owners name and information. This will be on his AKC regsitration. (purple and white slip). Once you fill out this part, they will ask you his variety or breed (a variety is a subclass of the breed- in Chihuahuas, for example, they have two varieties: Longcoat and smoothcoat) they are both chihuahuas but compete separately. Then it will be broken down by sex (all males are shown together by class and variety) and then by class. They start with the 6-9month puppy dog class. Dog means male. This means that all male puppies between the ages of six to nine months will go into the ring together. They will be asked to walk around the ring and then be "stacked" on the table for the judge to feel them and see their teeth. When you stack your dog, you are trying to get him to look as close to the standard (look in show dog books) as possible. If your dog is a big dog, he wll not use a table. Toy breeds do. They look at your dog on the table, then they ask you to take him off of the table and usually they have you walk on the diagonal run, rug, rollout, down and back. This is so the judge can see your dog coming at her and going away from her. (it's front and rear movement). She will then either have you move all the way around the ring (usual) or have you stand in the ring on the next side from the corner you are closest to while she examines the rest of the dogs including down and back. Either way, she will then have them walk around the ring one more time together, and from that she will chose a first second and third place winner. She will do this with all of the classes 6-9 mnths, 9-12months, 12-18 months, Bred by exhibitor (a class where the dog entered and being shown is owned by the person handling him), American Bred (a class where the dog has been bred in the U.S), Novice (the dog can be any age but hasn't received any points yet) and Open Class (The dog may have been shown in other classes or not, have received points or not- it's kind of a melding pot for any dog that isn't yet a champion. Most commonly they are in Open dog after they have turned 18 months and are still seeking points and majors for a championship). The first place winner from each of these classes will all go together, to vie for the points and any possible major- the title being Winners Dog. A major is a title (you need two for championship) given when enough dogs have been entered to mean that your dog taking Winners dog has beaten a substantial number of dogs.
The same now, is done for the girls (bitches) and the title of Winners Bitch is bestowed on one bitch.
The Winners Dog and Winners Bitch go in with dogs and bitches that have already attained championships and together they all compete for best of variety. At this time the judge will hand-examine the dogs that have not been in the ring before (the champions) but will usually just have the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch do the walking that she requires of everyone. She then awards the title of Best of Variety to a dog. She also picks Best of Winners from the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch as well as Best of opposite to the one who doesn't win Best of Winners. She has also picked a second place Winners Dog and Winners Bitch, this is called Winners Reserve, in case the Winners Dog or Winners Bitch goes all the way to Best of Variety. At that point the reserve dog will come in and compete for Best of Winners.
That's how I see it- fairly simplistically.