Showing a Dog

One of the most addictive canine pursuits has to be dog showing.  Some people buy a puppy and have their sights set on Crufts’ from the word go but others attend a local Companion Dog Show, win a rosette and from that moment there is no turning back.

If the puppy was not purchased as a show puppy but the owner has been bitten by the bug, the first course of action is to talk to the breeder. Assuming the dog is of a good standard then the breeder will probably be happy for it to be shown and will usually offer advice on trimming and showing. The dog must be Kennel Club registered in the name of the owner to be shown at any show apart from a Companion Dog Show.

Show training is important and The Oundle and District Dog Training Society run classes every week.

There are various ways to find out about the dates and venues for dog shows. Companion Dog Shows are advertised in local papers, dog press or on local radio. Limit, Open and Championship Dog Shows are advertised in the dog press - The Kennel Gazette (published by the Kennel Club), Dog World and Our Dogs (from a newsagent or direct from the printers). The internet has made entering shows easier. Show printers, who produce schedules for the shows, have websites and it is possible to download schedules and enter online. This service is available for all General Championship shows and about half of the general open shows (see Links page for show printers' websites)

The following is a brief summary of the types of shows available :

  • Companion Dog Shows. These are fun, charity events.  They are Kennel Club Licensed which means they must follow certain guidelines but they are open to pedigree (KC registered or not) and crosssbreed dogs. They must support a registered charity.  Entries are taken on the day and there are usually pedigree and crossbreed classes, novelty classes (e.g. Prettiest bitch), junior handling and sometimes obedience classes.  ODDTS runs a Companion Dog Show every year.
Child Handling At a Companion Show
Junior Handling at a Companion Show
Best Six Legs Class at a Companion Show
  • Limit Shows.  These are comparatively rare, they are "limited" in that competitors must be members of the Club running them.  Membership usually costs very little. They may be run by a club for a single breed.  Alternatively, if they are run by a general canine society, they have classes for any breed.  Usually the classes are mixed e.g. Any Variety Gundog.
  • Open Shows.  These are the most numerous types of shows.  They are open to all, competitors do not have to be members of the organising club, but membership usually means it is cheaper to enter. Open Shows also fall into categories: General Canine Societies can run one or two open shows per year depending on the success of previous shows. They usually have 3 to 5 classes for each separate breed scheduled plus a number of variety classes.  They can be run ‘On the Group System’ when the Best of Breed and Best Puppy winners for each breed compete for Best in Group and Best Puppy in Group and these go forward to Best in Show and Best Puppy in Show.  If they are not run on the group system all Best of Breeds and Best Puppy in Breeds stay to the end and compete for Best in Show and Best Puppy in Show.Open shows are popular because they are local, points can be gained which count towards Junior Warrant and Show Certificate of Merit Awards and they are cheaper to enter than championship shows. They are a good training ground for dogs, handlers and judges. Group Open Shows are restricted to one or maybe two groups e.g. Gundog shows. Breed Club Open Shows are restricted to one breed but they will have around 20 classes for the breed.  They are popular shows although the competition can be as strong as at Championship Shows.Open shows must be entered about 4 weeks in advance either by obtaining a schedule from the secretary, filling in an entry form and sending with a cheque  or by entering online and paying by card.
  • Championship Shows. Championship shows are the events where champions are made and dogs have a chance to qualify for Crufts’. General Championship Shows are run over several days with the different groups competing on each.  Most of them take place in the summer months because outdoor venues have more space.  Classes are scheduled for each breed and dogs and bitches are judged separately.  If challenge certificates are on offer for the breed the class winners for each sex compete together to challenge for ‘The Ticket’ and ‘Reserve Ticket’.  A Best of Breed is chosen and this goes forward to the Group.  The group winner then competes with all other group winners for Best in Show.  If dogs win Three Challenge Certificates (or tickets) under 3 different judges they become Champions or Show Champions (depending on the breed). Most people set their sights a little lower than the Challenge Certificates although optimism is a good thing.  In a popular breed e.g. Labradors, 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Minor Puppy, Puppy, Junior, Yearling, Post Graduate, Limit or Open at a show where Challenge Certificates are on offer for the breed qualifies the dog for Crufts’.  The placings in Limit and Open give the dog a ‘Stud Book Number’ which qualifies the dog for Crufts’ for life.  In less numerous breeds the requirements are different (check with the Kennel Club). Breed Championship Shows are confined to one breed. The number of classes is usually greater than at General Championship Shows but the Challenge Certificates and Crufts’ qualification remain the same.  These shows are cheaper to enter and usually draw a bigger entry than GCS.  In popular breeds they usually have a judge for dogs and one for bitches.
A Championship Show Class
A Championship Show Class

The Classes.

The show schedule gives a list of classes and definitions for each class.  The classes depend on either age or previous wins.  It is worth reading this section carefully, Ringcraft trainers can give advice on the classes suitable for your dog.  As a general rule just enter the lowest class your dog is eligible for e.g.  If you have a 10month old puppy just enter ‘Puppy’ don’t go in ‘Junior’ or any other class.

The Best Dog.
Remember, win or lose, you always go home with the best dog because he is yours!  You learn a lot from your first show dog even if he isn’t top notch.  People at the ring side may be reticent at first but will offer help if asked and often the friends you make at shows are friend for life.  And of course there is always your next dog or the puppy you are going to breed...........

You always take the best dog home!










Photo by Greypoint Photography

"You always take the best dog home!"