Conformation    Canine Good Citizen  Performance Events    Agility    Obedience   Rally Obedience

Tracking    Herding     Hunting Tests for Spaniels    Lure Coursing

Welcome to the world of dog shows! Dog shows are about having FUN! Pictured right is a Chinese Crested (hairless) that played a joke on the Judge by prancing into the ring dressed as an elf at a show at holiday time. You just have to love a dog that is such a little prankster!


If you'd like to know more about the serious side of the sport of showing on! You'll learn how dogs become Champions, what the Judge is looking for to make a determination of which dog wins and so much more! Interested in showing your dog?


"Showing dogs is the only sport that by payment of an entry fee and with no training whatsoever, an amateur can compete directly with a professional."

----- George G. Alston, Author of "The Winning Edge"


For the purpose of this dialogue the reference is to AKC (American Kennel Club) dog shows and assumes you have no knowledge of the ring procedure. If you've ever attended a dog show or watched one on television you may wonder what exactly is going on. The objective of an all breed conformation dog show is to choose the one dog that is the best representation of its own breed standard. A breed standard states what the dog's physical structure, characteristics and overall appearance.  

At an all breed conformation dog show, the breeds are first judged against their own kind to find the best single dog of that given breed - this dog is named "Best of Breed" (BOB). After a dog wins BOB, it will then be shown in the "group" ring and competes against other "Best of Breed" dogs in the same specific group. There are currently seven groups recognized by the American Kennel Club. The seven groups are:



These dogs were bred to pull carts, guard property and perform search and rescue services. 


These dogs were bred to help shepherds and ranchers herd their livestock. 


These dogs vary in size and function, and many are considered companion dogs.


Terriers were bred to rid property of vermin such as rats.


These dogs were bred to be household companions.


 These breeds were bred for hunting other game by sight or scent.


These dogs were bred to hunt game birds both on land and in the water.

After a dog is chosen as the winner in the group ring - there will be a dog from each group named above - those dogs go on to compete for "Best In Show" (BIS). Only one dog will stand alone to receive this award each show! This dog represents the "best of the best" on that given day at that show location!

There are two additional kinds of conformation dog shows - specialty shows and group shows. The specialty show features one specific breed - only dogs of that particular breed are shown, but they could come from all over the country or even from other countries as long as they are AKC registered. The group show is open to dogs of a certain AKC group (again referencing the list of groups named above). Each dog entered in any AKC or breed club sanctioned dog show must meet the minimum requirements for their breed. Each dog is judged by their own breed standard and can earn points toward Championship.

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A dog becomes an AKC Champion by earning fifteen points, however, out of those fifteen points a dog must earn two "majors" by two different judges.. A "major" holds a score of three, four or five points. This is determined by the number of male and female dogs of the particular breed competing in the show. The more dogs that are entered the higher the points awarded. There are seven different classes that a dog can be entered in depending on the age of the dog, whether the handler is an amateur, bred by the exhibitor (the person showing the dog), and whether the dog was born and bred in the United States. 

Males and females compete separately within their particular breeds, in seven regular classes. The following classes are offered, and are divided by sex:

Puppy - For dogs between six and twelve months of age, that are not yet champions (optional class).

Twelve-To-Eighteen Months - For dogs twelve to eighteen months of age, that are not yet champions (optional class).

Novice - For dogs six months of age and over, which have not, prior to the date of closing of entries, won three first prizes in the Novice Class, a first prize in Bred-by-Exhibitor, American-Bred, or Open Classes, nor one or more points toward their championship (optional class).

Amateur-Owner-Handler – For dogs that are at least six months of age that are not champions.  Dogs must be handled in the class by the registered owner of the dog and is limited to exhibitors who have not, at any point in time, been a professional dog handler, AKC approved conformation judge, or employed as an assistant to a professional handler (effective January 1, 2009) (optional class).

Open - For any dog of the breed, at least 6 months of age (mandatory class).

American-Bred - For dogs born in the United States from a mating which took place in the United States, that are not yet champions (mandatory class).

Bred By Exhibitor - For dogs that are exhibited by their owner and breeder, that are not yet champions (optional class).

After the seven different classes are judged, the winning males and females are brought back and compete again to see which one is best. The males and females are judged separately and only the top two dogs judged “Best Female” and “Best Male” are given championship points. This procedure is also referred to as "Winners Dog" (male) and "Winners Bitch" (female). In addition, another male and another female are selected as "Reserve Winners Dog" and "Reserve Winners Bitch" - these are the "runners up" to the "Winners Dog" and "Winners Bitch". The "Winners Dog" and "Winners Bitch" then compete with the Champions for the Best of Breed (BOB) award. Upon completion of the Best of Breed competition three more awards are given:

Best of Breed - the dog (male or female) that is judges as BEST in its breed category.

Best of Winners - the dog (male or female) that is judges as the better of the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch.

Best of Opposite Sex - the dog that is the opposite sex to the Best of Breed Winner. 

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The dog that is named Best of Breed will go to "Group" to compete with other "Best of Breeds". Of these "Best of Breed" dogs, four are chosen and awarded ribbons for their placement accordingly. Only the Group One Winners from each of the seven groups (Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding) will go on  to compete for the prestigious award of Best In Show.

Only one dog is selected from all of the entries to be named "Best In Show" (BIS) at the end of the day!

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Located in the new Grand Championship section of the AKC website, the Grand Championship Points Ranking lists the top 25 dogs in each breed in a drop-down box format. The ranking is based on the number of Grand Championship points garnered at shows by achieving Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex, Select Dog or Select Bitch.

How to Count Grand Championship Points at AKC Dog Shows (PDF)

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Besides conformation dog shows, you can attend field trials for agility, tracking, herding and hunting, as well as lure coursing, rally, and obedience trials. You can find shows scheduled in your area by visiting the links on our UPCOMING DOG EVENTS  page.  These shows are also a great way to get a feel for a specific breed of dog, and what they are capable of doing. So, if you are looking for a new game to play with your own dog, you might want to give one of these shows a look. To have an event posted send your request to us at


Dog Obstacle Course



Agility is a sport for dogs in which the handler guides and directs a dog through an obstacle course. Time and accuracy are both of importance. The dog must be off-leash and treats or toys cannot be used to persuade the dog to perform. The handler is not permitted to touch the dog or the obstacles. The handler is permitted to use voice commands, body movement and signals which requires excellent training of the dog.

There are many levels of difficulty for the agility course which is laid out by an agility judge in the design of his or her preference. The course area is approximately 100 feet square and numbers are posted indicating the order that the handler must follow to guide the dog through the course to complete each obstacle. The obstacles used in an agility course are the A-Frame, Dog Walk, Teeter, Table, Single Bar Jumps, Double Bar Jumps, Triple Bar Jumps, Broad Jump, Panel Jump, Tire Jump, Open Tunnel, Chute (closed tunnel) and  Weave Poles.

In the agility trial course, the handler walks the course as a "preview" mentally preparing handling strategies for the best way to direct the dog through the course. The goal is to o this with precision and speed - both are equally important. Many strategies exist to compensate for the inherent difference in human and dog speeds and the strengths and weaknesses of the various dogs and handlers.

To learn more about agility and search for Agility Trials all around the country or visit AKC Agility.

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Training Your Dog

Each dog and its' personality are unique -- just like humans! Some have high energy levels, some are so reserved you have to check to make sure they haven't wandered off! Some are very stoic and others ar just plain goofy. Some are shy and others are full of themselves. Regardless of the dog's personality, you'll be doing your dog a big favor (and probably saving yourself from embarrassment in the future) by teaching him appropriate behavior and abiding by the rules.

Your dog will look to you for guidance as the leader of the pack. That is, if your have established yourself in this role in a definite but pleasant (firm and friendly) way. You can't expect that your dog will follow the rules if you haven't taught him what the rules are!


Some of The Many Reasons to Train Your Dog

  • Help prevent or correct inappropriate behaviors - i.e. demand barking, digging, chewing, jumping on people or furniture. You can achieve this by providing activities for your dog that require him to think (mental stimulation) and reduce his energy level (throw the ball!)

  • Training will increase the bond and respect level between you and your dog. Both owner and dog are rewarded with companionship when quality training time is spent together.

  • Your neighbors will appreciate your well trained and disciplined canines. 

There are many types of training classes - it is recommended that the method of training that you apply is always with positive reinforcement. Always remember...firm but friendly!

  • If you've chosen a puppy you'll want to select a class that is appropriate for it's age. Training should not be done while a puppy is teething. A class for the 3 to 5 month old puppy should emphasize socialization with other puppies and of course, people of all shapes, sizes, colors and ethnicity. The more you can introduce your puppy to (being careful not to overstimulate) the better. You may also obtain information related to housebreaking/crate training, basic command, nutrition, growth and grooming.

  • For dogs 6 months and older a basic training class is appropriate - this class focuses on "training the trainer", that's YOU! The basic training class covers the elements of fundamental commands - sit, stand, down, stay, heeling on a loose leash, leave it (manners) and coming when called. Additionally, problem-solving tips, nutrition and grooming may be provided. The goal and objective of the basic training class is to keep your dog safe.

  • Once your dog has been trained to comply with your commands you should test in the Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) certification program that is designed to reward dogs that can display their good manners in public and at home. Learn more about the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification program.

To learn more visit the Obedience Trials area on the American Kennel Club (AKC) website. 

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What is Rally Obedience?

Rally Obedience has rocked the world of dogs! Rally is fun and stimulating for the handler and the dog that has learned it's obedience commands and be registered with AKC, listed with the AKC Purebred Alternative Listing/Indefinite Listing Privilege ( PAL /ILP) program, or a Foundation Stock Service (FSS) recorded breed that meets the eligibility requirements for competition. It also advantageous for the dog to have accomplished it's AKC Canine Good Citizen® Certification.

The handler/dog team proceed through the course at their own pace. A rally course includes 10 to 20 stations with instruction signs, depending on the level of competition - Novice, Advanced or Excellent. Scoring is not as difficult as in traditional obedience. The handler is encouraged to communicate with the dog, a perfect heel position is not required, however, a sense of teamwork should be displayed between the handler and the dog. The main goal of Rally Obedience is to create a trained behavior pattern for the home, in public and around other dogs. The objective is to promote a positive reflection on the sport under all conditions. 

To learn more visit the Rally Obedience area on the American Kennel Club (AKC) website. 

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If you've ever seen or heard about search and rescue dogs then you're familiar with the concept of tracking. Tracking events provide training for dogs and handlers that may very well go on to meet the needs of law enforcement by tracking and finding missing humans or other animals. Tracking also demonstrates the exceptionally elevated level of smell that a dog possesses.

AKC Tracking Tests permit the dog to show their natural ability to recognize and "track" or follow human scent. Tracking is a vigorous and requires an enormous amount of physical energy both by the handler and the dog. A dog only needs to complete one track to successfully earn each title in tracking: Tracking Dog (TD), Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX), Variable Surface Tracking (VST), Champion Tracker (CT).

If you love the outdoors (in all conditions) with your dog, you may enjoy tracking!

To learn more visit the Tracking area on the American Kennel Club (AKC) website. 

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The AKC herding program took off with great interest in June of 1989. The herding program is designed to include a variety of livestock and courses. The program is open to all AKC recognized herding breeds, Rottwielers and Samoyeds.

The herding program, since its' inception has realized considerable and steady growth experiencing a 30% increase in entries and number of tests conducted during the years of 1997 and 2002.

To learn more visit the Herding area on the American Kennel Club (AKC) website. 

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The first AKC hunting tests were conducted in July of 1988 in the state of California by a enthusiastic committee that began their vision several years before. The complete story and growth of hunting tests conducted over these years is impressive to say the least.

To learn more visit the Hunting Tests for Spaniels area on the American Kennel Club (AKC) website. 

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The objective of the AKC Competitive Lure Coursing Trial program is to preserve and build upon the skills inherent to the sighthound (Italian Greyhounds, Tds, Afghan Hounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Salukis, Scottish Deerhounds, Ibizan Hounds, Borzois and Rhodesian Ridgebacks) and to demonstrate that they can achieve the functions for which they were originally bred.

To learn more visit the Lure Coursing area on the American Kennel Club (AKC) website. 

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