A dog show is an exhibition in which pure-bred dogs compete for points leading to championships and higher honors. Requests for entry into a licensed American Kennel Club show must be made on special forms and submitted at least 12 days in advance of the show. Entries at licensed shows range from 300 to more than 3,000 dogs, and more than ten of these annual shows regularly have over 2,000 entries. Puppies must be six months of age or older to compete, and since it is a licensed show, championship points are awarded to class winners. A dog earning 15 points in a prescribed manner is awarded the title of champion.
The regular AKC dog show classes are puppy, which may be divided into 6 to 9 and 9 to 12 months; novice, American-bred; bred by exhibitor; and open. Each breed competes separately in these classes, and except in very rare breeds, the classes are divided by sex. Winners of the regular classes receive a blue ribbon and compete in the winners class against other winners of the same sex. The best dog ( winners dog) and best bitch (winners bitch) in the winners class get a purple ribbon and championship points. Winners dog, winners bitch, and champions then compete for best of breed. If either the winners dog or winners bitch is chosen best of breed, it is automatically also best of winners. If a champion is chosen best of breed, the winners dog and winners bitch then compete for best of winners. After the best-of-breed and best-of-winners judging, the dogs compete for best of opposite sex. If a bitch is chosen best of breed, the males compete for best of opposite sex; if a male is chosen best of breed, the bitches compete for best of opposite sex. The best of breed winners compete for first in their respective groups: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, and non-sporting. Group winners compete for best in show. The Canadian system is basically the same.
AKC championship points are awarded according to a complicated scale based on breed population and the amount of competition in a given geographical area over a period of years. In rare breeds, a winners dog or winners bitch chosen from among six entries can win the maximum of five points allowed at one show. Requirements for German shepherds are the highest, and it takes a group of 73 entries of one sex for the winners dog or winners bitch to win five points. Fifteen points are required for an AKC championship. At least 6 of these points must be won three or more at a time ( a “major” win) at two different shows under two different judges. The Canadian Kennel Club requires 10 points for a championship.
The United Kennel Club, a smaller American registry, also sponsors shows. Class winners get 10 points; best of breed is awarded 15. To become a champion, a dog must win 100 points, plus one best male or female in show.
The Kennel Club in England confers championships on dogs winning three challenge certificates. A challenge certificate is awarded on the discretion of the judge to a dog winning best of sex in any of several breed classes in a KC licensed show. Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan use variations of the English system. Most South American countries use variations of the AKC system, but Brazil uses an English variation.
Obedience trials were accepted as formal competition by the American Kennel Club in 1936. These are tests of a dog’s ability to take training rather than of its intelligence. The tests include walking at heel, sitting and lying among other dogs, standing for examination, retrieving, broad and high jumps, scent discrimination, seeking lost articles, and working on hand signals. Obedience titles, which are won by satisfactory performance in progressively more difficult classes, are Companion Dog ( CD) in novice work, Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) in open classes, Utility Dog ( UD) in utility classes, and Tracking ( T). Except for tracking, which requires passing the test only once, a dog wins a title by scoring at least 170 out of a possible 200 points in three different trials under three different judges. Tracking tests are held in fields and are 440 yards (402 meters) in length.