What is a Dog Show?
June 28, 2019
Think you’ve got a prize pooch at home? Considering dog shows but don’t know where to start? If so, this article is for you! It’s the complete 101 on dog shows, at the end of the article, you realise that you’ve got a show-ready dog who is just waiting to bring you home some trophies!
How Does Dog Showing Work?
Whether you’ve got a Boxer, Beagle, or Bassett Hound, every dog can be a show dog. Dog shows happen all over the world, as they have done for centuries. Showing off fine examples of breeds has always been something which dog owners and breeders have taken a lot of pride in.
Dog shows are common in America, especially for pedigree dogs. If you’ve got a reason why you think your dog is the best, you may as well share it with the rest of the world how special your dogs are. Even though shows for crossbreeds aren’t all too prevalent, they do happen.
The most acclaimed title in the dog show world comes from the world-renowned show Crufts – which we will go over in more detail down below once we’ve described the mechanics of dog showing.
Essentially, dog showing is a competitive exhibition activity where dogs will all go against each other to win awards or prizes in the end. Before the personality of your dog or any cool tricks they can do are considered, your dog will be put against the breed standards. Breed standards are set by your countries kennel club and differ from country to country.
Why Do People Show Dogs?
While some dog owners may take dog shows incredibly seriously, plenty more partake in dog showing just for fun, and it’s not just the dog owners who get to have a slice of fun, dogs who love nothing more than showing off and having all eyes on them thoroughly enjoy shows.
How Do I Get Involved with Dog Shows?
Some dog shows require your dog to be registered with the appropriate Kennel Club and placed onto the breed register. With Kennel Club dog shows, only the pedigree dogs will be able to enter, however, there are also ‘companion’ shows which allow crossbreeds to try and grab the grand prize.
Getting your dog show-ready is an essential part of the process – especially if you’re set on winning. You can get plenty of material online on how to get your dog ready for shows, but it is recommended that you head to one of your local ringcraft dog classes so you can be shown the basics. You’ll learn how to prepare your pup for the big day and learn how best to put them in the spotlight. This should go without saying, but you should make sure that your dog is well-socialised and good around strangers and other dogs. They won’t be picking up any prizes if they aren’t able to conduct themselves around other dogs.
It is always recommended that you attend dog shows as a spectator before you step into the ring yourself. Pay close attention to how dogs which are the same breed as your own are shown and pay close attention to which are the winners! On the ringside, you’ll be able to see and chat with other exhibitors who share your passion and enthusiasm for dog shows. Despite how competitive dog shows can be, a few friendly questions should always be welcomed, just make sure that you’re not disturbing someone who is about to step into the ring -they won’t thank you for that.
You’ll need to ensure that your dog is at least 6 months old or older from the first date of the show. Dogs younger than 6 months old will be immediately disqualified. There may be some other entry requirements which your dog may need to comply with to compete. But the most important thing you must make sure of is that your dog is healthy and has all the necessary jabs. You may want to take them for a quick once over at the vets before you put them into the ring.
Different Dog Show Levels
Some dog shows are more beginner-friendly than others. Below, you will find a brief overview of how the levels in dog showing work.
- Limited Shows
These are the most beginner-friendly shows which will be restricted by which membership groups or societies you are part of, the breed of your dog, and potentially your geographical location.
- Open Shows
Open shows welcome all kinds of pedigree dogs, they are the perfect shows to enter your dog into if you are looking for a relaxed and friendly atmosphere but slightly more competitive and prestigious than the limited shows.
- Premier Open Shows
There are many benefits to entering your dog into a premier open show the main one being that you will be able to qualify for Crufts, generally, these shows only tend to differ from open shows due to size.
- Champion Dog Shows
You’ll be up with the best of the best in these shows – it’s the highest level of competition which you can enter. You’ll either be able to qualify for Crufts or win Challenge Certificates at these shows. Three Challenge Certificates which are also known as CCs is the ultimate accolade for a show dog.
Dog Show Types
At the most recent count, the American Kennel Club recognises 211 breeds. Some shows will allow all pedigree dog breeds to enter while others will just be breed specific, alternatively, some shows will be held to show multiple breeds as there are so many dog breeds. It would be impractical to hold single breed dog shows with every event. This is where the different breed groups come in. For example, it could be the hound group or the pastoral group. If you’re not sure which group is right for your dog, head on over to the AKC Breed information page.
General shows are usually much bigger events and will often happen over a duration of several days but only some of them will be relevant to your dog breed – although you can certainly stay to watch how the other shows pan out!
If your dog isn’t a pedigree but you’d still like to take part, you can always enter them into a companion dog show. These shows will be much more relaxed than your average shows and will usually happen during charitable events.