Dog shows are enjoyable and educational, but many find the process of how the eliminations work quite confusing. This blog will explain how a dog show works, from the classes to Best in Show.
HISTORY AND PURPOSE
Conformation dog shows have a rich history dating back to the Victorian era in Britain, where they became a phenomenon that spread around the world. We have had dog shows celebrating purposefully bred dogs here in North America since the late 19th
Photo by: Clint Ellery
Dog shows are one of the tools breeders use to evaluate potential breeding animals because a dog’s conformation and temperament are indications of the dog’s ability to produce healthy, sound puppies that are able to carry out the breed’s original purpose. These qualities are captured in the official Breed Standard of each breed, which not only drives a breeder’s decisions about which dogs to breed, but is also the written guide that a judge uses when deciding which dogs will be awarded at a dog show. It covers traits such as size, movement, structure, coat, temperament and more. Preservation breeders of purebred dogs strive to improve their breed with every litter, contributing to the overall population’s health and well-being. Since it’s difficult to maintain quality without comparison, a dog show allows breeders to exhibit their own dogs while observing other breeders’ dogs as well.
There is great variety within the Canadian Kennel Club’s nearly 200 recognized purebreds. If you are wondering why some dogs look so different from others, you might want to consider something we hear often in the dog world: “form follows function”. Take the Clumber Spaniel for example. This breed was developed specifically to be a field dog who hunts upland game in dense cover. Their form definitely follows function as this is a long, low, rectangular, bulky dog that retrieves through the brush rather than around or over it. The Afghan Hound, on the other hand, was bred to hunt gazelle, hare and even leopard in the harsh mountainous regions of Afghanistan. Their coat protected them from the elements and beneath that is a powerful, agile hound with hips that are set high and wide apart, which enables them to switch direction quickly while on the hunt in the uneven terrain. The Afghan Hound also has panoramic vision and muscle bulk to body weight ratio enables them to hunt at explosive speeds. The iconic Scottish Terrier was developed to go to ground to hunt earth-dwelling vermin. Their short legs and deep chest enable them to dig efficiently. The Scottish Terrier’s long head and powerful jaws along with their fearless spirit equip this small dog to hunt badger.
FROM THE CLASSES TO BEST IN SHOW
Dog shows are enjoyable and educational, but many find the process of how the eliminations work quite confusing. This blog will explain how a dog show works from the classes to Best in Show.
Please note that the dog community, uses the word bitch for a female dog. At some shows you may hear “Winners Female” or “Winners Bitch” these are both referring to female dogs. We use the word dog for a male dog so you may hear “Winners Dog” or “Winners Male”.
In order to be eligible to compete in a dog show approved by the Canadian Kennel Club, a dog must be one of the Canadian Kennel Club’s recognized purebreds. The dog must be registered or registerable with the Club or have an Event Registration Number. If the dog is one of the Canadian Club’s Listed Breeds, they must have a Miscellaneous Certification Number. The dog must also have no disqualifying faults according to his or her breed’s standard and be at least six months of age.
Photo by: Clint Ellery
Every dog competing for points at a dog show is entered in at least one of these official classes for their breed and sex. The classes are:
: Puppies that are at least six months old and under nine months old on the day of the show.
: Puppies that are between nine and twelve months old on the day of the show.
12-18 Month Dog/Bitch
: A dog that is between the age of twelve and eighteen months old on the day of the show.
: For all dogs.
: For Canadian dogs who were born in Canada.
Bred by Exhibitor:
dogs in this ring are handled by their owner/breeder. The handler must be the owner or co-owner of the dog as well as the breeder or co-breeder of the dog to compete in this class.
Some shows also offer a Veterans Class
for dogs over the age of 7 on the day of the show. Dogs in this class may be spayed or neutered.
The Judge in the classes will award ribbons for first to fourth place in this order: blue, red, yellow and white.
Once the regular classes are done, The Winner’s Classes
are now judged.
The first place (or blue ribbon) male winners in all the earlier mentioned Classes come back in the ring and the judge then chooses her Winners Male. The Winners Male receives a purple ribbon. After the judge selects her Winners Male, she then looks at the remaining dogs and selects a Reserve Winners Male who gets a mauve ribbon. Following the selection of Reserve Winners Male, all the female blue ribbon winners enter the ring and the same procedure is followed.
Best of Breed
After the judging of Winners Male and Winners Female, dogs who are already Champions enter the ring with the Winners Male and Winners Female for Best of Breed. The Best of Breed
winner has defeated all competition in their particular breed and receives a red, white and blue ribbon for this accomplishment.
After Best of Breed is awarded, the judge then chooses Best of Opposite Sex.
The dogs of the opposite sex to the Best of Breed winner now compete for Best of Opposite Sex. So if the Best of Breed winner is a female, then the remaining males compete here and the winner of this award gets a green and white ribbon.
Best of Winners
is judged at the same time as Best of Breed. This is where the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch are judged and a Best of Winners award is given. This ribbon is purple and gold. If a class dog wins Best of Breed, they are automatically Best of Winners. Best of Winners is only awarded if there is both a Winners Dog and a Winners Female competing at the Best of Breed level.
and Select Bitch
are awards that are then presented to dogs that were recognized as the top quality of their sex after Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex have been awarded. Select Dog and Select Bitch get a rainbow coloured ribbon.
The final breed award is Best Puppy in Breed
. This is where all puppies that haven’t been defeated by another puppy in class competition enter the ring and the winner receives a light blue ribbon.
Best of Group
All of the Canadian Kennel Club’s recognized breeds belong to0 one of the club’s seven groups. They are: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding. All Best of Breed winners are brought into the ring by group and the judge selects first, second, third, fourth in Group. The winners here receive blue, red, yellow and white rosettes respectively. The first place winner in the Group competition goes on to compete in the Best in Show ring.
Best in Show
All seven Best of Group winners are judged for the show’s top award, Best in Show
. The winner of Best in Show gets a huge red, white and blue rosette. The judge also selects a Reserve Best in Show winner and they receive a huge light purple rosette.
Following the Best in Show competition, the seven puppies that won their Group enter the ring and the Best Puppy in Show
receives a huge light blue rosette. If a puppy wins Best in Show, they are also the Best Puppy in Show winner.
And that’s how a Dog Show works!
Photo by: Clint Ellery
You can find a dog show happening in your area by using the Canadian Kennel Club’s Events Calendar
Hope to see you ringside at a show soon!