Ever wondered how your breeder decides a dog is fit for breeding? Aside from doing health testing to ensure a dog is healthy, breeders also want to ensure that the dogs they breed are good examples of the breed and conform to their breed standards. They do this by showing their dogs and achieving a Championship. A championship is a review by people who are certified as competent professionals in evaluating structure and movement according to a dogs breed standard. They are called conformation Judges.
When a conformation judge selects a dog for Winners in dog show competition, that dog is awarded points toward its championship. A dog must achieve 10 points under 3 separate judges (at 3 separate shows), and one of the awards must be a 2 point (or higher) win. Once the dog has 10 points, it is recognized as a Champion by the Canadian Kennel Club, and is generally recognized as a good example of its breed.
A Conformation Show, or 'Dog Show', as some like to call them, is an event where dogs are judged as to how closely their structure conforms to the breeds Standard of perfection. This 'Breed Standard' is often written by the Parent Club of the breed, and includes such details as size, color, coat length and texture, shape of body and head, bite, occlusion and dentition, and movement. Standards can be quite detailed and take a while to learn them completely.
The dogs are evaluated through a physical examination of the structure and the mouth, and through movement by a qualified person called a 'Judge'. The Judges job is to compare the dogs presented to the Breed Standard, and pick the ones that best fit that standard. Since no dog is perfect, that evaluation is carefully weighted and dogs are placed considering each dogs good features, or 'virtues', and imperfections, or 'faults'. The dogs start in the classes, and those who are successful move up through the competition through Best of Winners, Best of Breed, Best of Group and Best in Show!
Most dog shows are for 'All-Breeds', but a lot of the time these shows are accompanied by other events such as Rally 'O, Obedience and Agility competitions, Junior Showmanship Competitions, Non-regular events like Sweepstakes and Puppy Matches, and Specialty (shows for specific breeds). There is something for every kind of dog enthusiast!
When you are at a dog show, it is often very exciting, and with many breeds being judged at once there is much to see. Lot of people called 'Exhibitors' will often be running around, and grooming or working their dogs when they are not in the show ring. This is a great place to talk to breeders and owners and learn about dogs and different breeds. It is always OK to talk to Exhibitors, but be sure to be kind, and ask if they have time to talk first. They could be getting ready to compete or need to potty or take care of their dogs before the next competition. Also, always, always ask BEFORE petting or touching any dogs.
Dog Show Terminology
Best of Breed (BOB): The dog selected or the award made by a judge to the dog chosen as the best representative of its breed according the the standard. Every BOB winner advances to their group.
Best of Opposite Sex (BOS): The dog selected as the best of the opposite sex to the BOB, or BOV winner. This dog doe snot advance to the group.
Best in Show (BIS): The award or the dog selected from among the seven group winning finalists as the best dog among all entries for that day.
Champion: A title or the dog that has earned a certain number of points (10) in competition with wins in CKC shows.
Breeder: The owner of the dam when she was bred to produce the dog.
Breeder-Owner-Handler: The individual who bred, owns and handles the dog. Similarly, an Owner-Handler is someone who handles a dog that they also own.
Breeder-Judge: Someone who is licensed to judge dog of their breed.
Professional Handler: Someone who handles a dog for a fee.
All Breed Judge: An individual licensed to judge every breed.
Breed Standard: The written description of the traits and movement fo the ideal specimen of a breed, generally based on form and function. Each parent club creates and maintains their breed standard. Judges are to judge by comparing them to the standard for their breed.
Conformation: The structure and physical characteristics of a dog.
Stack: The pose itself, or the posing of, a dog by a handler in its natural stance.
Gait: The action of movement of a dog. Generally speaking, a sound and balanced gait usually indicates proper conformation and structure.
Breed Type: The manifestation of those unique traits and characteristics of a dog that distinguish it as a particular breed.
Benched Show: A show where dogs are required to be on assigned benches while not being shown. This allows all concerned - spectators, breeders, handlers, and owners, the opportunity to interact, ask questions and share information about the various breeds.
Limited Entry: Where the entry for a dog show is governed by certain parameters set by the club, such as total number of dogs or champions only; or in junior shomanship a certain number of qualifying wins for the handler.
Catalog: The compilation by breed of all dogs entered in the show, listing armband numbers, birth dates, sire and dam, breeders and owners.