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So you want to show your Dog?

So you think that maybe you’d like to try showing your dog but you are not sure how? I’ll do my best to tell you the basics and I will try to keep it simple.

The different types of dog shows

Companion shows.

These are the most informal dog shows. Any dog regardless of registration or breed…even a cross breed may be exhibited. They are usually run in aid of charity and to enter you just turn up on the day and pay your entry fee…usually about 1 per class. They have classes for pedigrees and also fun classes such as ‘prettiest bitch’ and ‘best 6 legs’.

Limit shows

Pretty much the same as an open show (see below) but you must be a member of the organising society in order to attend. The membership fees are minimal and limited shows are excellent for introducing young and inexperienced dogs to the world of showing.

Open shows

These are shows that have to be entered by post 2-3 weeks in advance and only Kennel Club registered dogs are eligible. Open shows are usually held over 1 or 2 days and frequently attract an entry of about 300-400 dogs. Classes are held for each individual breed, there are also mixed classes for breeds which do not have their own separate classes (these are usually the rarer/less numerically strong breeds).

Championship shows.

These are the biggest shows. They attract and entry of between 10-12,000 dogs and must be entered 5-7 weeks in advance. They are normally held over 3 or 4 days and include classes for most KC recognised breeds.
Details of when and where a show will be held are published in the national dog papers Our Dogs and Dog World; they can also be found on the internet.

Entering your dog for Championship and Open shows

A dog must be a minimum of 6 months of age in order to enter a KC show. Any dog that has been spayed or neutered may be shown subject to permission from the Kennel Club, they are then entered as per normal and compete alongside all other dogs. Owners of dogs which have had any type of surgery must apply to the Kennel club for permission to show...the KC will then make a decision as to whether the dog may be shown or not depending on the surgery performed.

In order to enter a show you must first obtain a show schedule,these are little booklets which explain and list all available classes at the show in question, they can be obtained through the show secretary.

Once you have obtained a schedule look through it and find which classes your dog is eligible for. Each breed will have a set of classes and all the classes are explained in the schedule, for example 'puppy' is for dogs between the ages of 6 and 12 months and Junior is for dogs up to the age of 18 months. Other classes are defined by the number of wins a dog has previously achieved while attending other shows. Having decided in which classes you wish to enter your dog fill in the form and send it along with your payment to the address as instructed.

Training your dog for the showring

In order for you and your dog to learn show techniques you may find it helpful to attend a local ring craft class. Here you will be shown how to stand and move your dog and what else is expected of you.

Preparation for a show varies greatly from breed to breed. Some dogs require clipping or trimming, most require bathing, others require specialist shampoos or equipment. A good thing to do when thinking of showing your dog is to ask you dog’s breeder for some advice. Alternatively, contact your breed club and ask about show preparation, they will be able to point you in the right direction.

At the show

Passes are sent out to all entrants before the show,these are the ‘tickets’ which will allow you entry to the showground. At championship shows dogs are ‘benched’ while not in the show ring. This means that each dog is allocated a special raised ‘bed’ on which to rest while not being shown. On arriving at a show first obtain a catalogue, each dog attending a show is allocated a number and the number will be entered in the catalogue. At a championship show your number is placed above your bench so look in the catalogue to help locate your bench . If it’s an unbenched Open show you will just need to find out which ring you are due to show in, the numbers at these shows are handed to the exhibitors on entering the ring. All numbers must be worn whilst in the ring.

Once your breed is due to be shown the ring steward (the judge’s aid) will call the classes, he informs exhibitors which class is next due in the ring. The usual procedure to showing in a class is as follows;

  1. All dogs are ‘set up’ (made to stand correctly) so that the judge can make an initial assessment of them,
  2. The dogs will then be asked to move round the ring…once or twice,
  3. Each dog is then examined by the judge, small breeds usually stand on a table, large breeds on the ground, the judge will inform the exhibitor exactly what he requires them to do. The dog is then asked to move up and down the ring so the judge can assess movement.
  4. The dogs are then all set up again and the judge will make his placing, usually from first to fifth.
If you wish to withdraw from a class you should inform the ring steward before your class starts.

Each class is judged in turn. At championship shows the dogs and bitches of each breed have separate classes, once all the classes have been judged the Challenge Certificates are awarded first to the dogs then the bitches. A challenge certificate or 'CC' is an award given by a judge to a dog or bitch considered to be worthy of the title 'Champion'. If a dog wins 3 CC’s from 3 different judges he is permited to use the title Champion in front of his name. In order to award the CCs the judge calls the unbeaten dogs back into the ring and chooses the best dog from the class winners, this dog is then awarded the CC. The second best dog is then awarded the reserve CC. The procedure is then repeated for the bitches. The dog and bitch CC winners then compete for the overall winner, this is called the 'Best of Breed'. All unbeaten puppies compete for the title of 'Best Puppy' in breed.

Each best of breed then competes in its group for the title of 'Best in Group'. There are 7 groups. These are:
  • Hound
  • Terrier
  • Pastoral
  • Working
  • Gundog
  • Utility
  • Toy
Each breed is classified under one of the groups.
Once all the groups are judged the 6 group winners compete for the title BEST IN SHOW.

Confused? It’s not really that complicated. There are exceptions to that which normally takes place at most championship shows, not every breeds will have classes at all shows, those breeds that do have classes may not award CC’s. Open shows do not award CC’s at all but otherwise go through a similar procedure to Championship shows.

Win or lose it should be done gracefully. A polite 'well done' and a handshake are always well received and lets face it hopefully one day the tables may be turned and the gesture returned.

It is always better to keep ones opinions to ones self....bitchiness beside the ring makes for a bad atmosphere and a less enjoyable day for all. If your opinion is asked for be polite and tactful....treat people the way you would wish to be treated.

It is not 'the done thing' to speak or approach the judge whilst in the ring. Any questions should be kept till after judging is completed and then should be polite and courteous, after all the judge is only giving his opinion on the dogs present even if it doesn't agree with yours.

If you feel you have need to complain it is always best to approach the shows secretary, however please try and remember that it’s a fun day out and taking things too seriously takes away the pleasure...things always look different after a goods night sleep.


Well that’s the basics. But more than anything if you decide to show you need to make sure that you do it for the fun of it. There’s no money to be made …in fact it will cost you a pretty penny if you decide to make a habit of it but if done as a fun day out at the end of which you always take the best dog home (your own!) it is a wonderful hobby in which you can make new friends and spend time with like minded people.

Your comments and views:
Fondly Remembered
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 7,358
Female  Diamond Supporter 
23-06-2005, 03:07 AM
An excellent overview which will be of great value to those wishing to enter the world of showing, and of interest to the general reader to whom showing is somewhat of a mystery.
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Dogsey Veteran
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 18,552
23-06-2005, 04:09 PM
Excellent article Archer, well worth a read, a great start for anybody wanting to show.
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Joined: May 2004
Posts: 49,480
Female  Diamond Supporter 
23-06-2005, 06:19 PM
Very interesting Article thank you Archer.
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Dogsey Veteran
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,933
26-06-2005, 03:48 PM
really helpful many thanks.
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Dogsey Veteran
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 12,204
29-06-2005, 03:14 PM
Great article archer, thanks!
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Dogsey Senior
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 263
25-08-2005, 12:32 AM
Thanks Archer. It's just been sugessted to us that we start showing Rocco in November and I was looking for info so I know where to start.
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Dogsey Veteran
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 3,217
10-10-2006, 02:25 PM
Thank you so much Archer. I might be interested in showing my puppy and did not have a clue where to start. It all seems a bit simpler now. Very informative article.
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New Member!
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 11
17-03-2017, 12:53 AM
Great! I want to visit some show someday. I have a dog but I never come to a show. I want to experience atleast one of this show.
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