There are several different types of dog show. Besides the various local, regional and national “beauty shows”, there are also special Obedience shows, plus Working Trials and Field Trials for working dogs.
Chief among the Chamionship shows in Britain is Crufts, established in 1886 by Charles Cruft, a supplier of dog biscuits. The most prestigious dog show in the U.S.A. is New York’s Westminster Dog Show, inaugurated in 1877. Because of the charismatic appeal of these shows, entry has to be restricted to dogs which have won the required certificates at other Championship shows.
At a Championship show, classes are organized with the dogs separated into breeds, then further divided into several age and handicap groups such as Puppy, Junior, Novice, Open and Veteran. Dogs and bitches are judged separately in each class. There’s a “Best-of-Breed” class, with a certificate awarded to the winner of the best dog and the best bitch. The best dog and best bitch each receive a Challenge Certificate. In the next round, the Best-of-Breed winners in each group are judged to select the best in each group (Gundogs, Hounds, Working Dogs, Terriers, Toys and Utility). Ultimately, the best of the various groups are judged to award the “Best-in-Show”.
Other types of dog show
“Open shows” are organized in a very similar way to Championship shows, but aren’t such long affairs – the Best- in-Show is judged from the Best-of- Breeds.
Your local Dog Show is likely to be an “Exemption Show”. These shows have permission to waive Kennel Club rules, and make a very good introduction for dogs new to the show – ring. As well as giving amateurs a chance to try their hand at showing a dog, they allow enthusiasts to show new dogs in conditions similar to those at a Championship show.
“Club shows” are those organized by the individual Breed societies. They usually offer a combination of serious classes for enthusiasts, plus exemption-type classes and “fun and games” for the owners.
Obedience shows and classes
Some classes aren’t judged on breed or apperance, but simply on ability. Different breeds and mongrels may all compete togehter. The kind of thing that the dogs are required to do begins with the commands given in Housing Handling and Training. Dogs are asked to move left and right, walk, run, stop, lie down, sit stand and negotiate obstacles – all on verbal commands. The classic breeds for this type of contest are Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs and Border Collies, although many breeds take part. In addtion, there are various type of Utility classes which involve tracking or searching and retrieving. For all these types of competition, there are special training classes and clubs for dog owners which teach both dogs and owners what is required of them. Many long hours of work are needed for success and not all dogs are capable of it.
These competitions are held to put gundogs through their paces – they involve complex retrieving operations both on land and in water. Once again, there are specialist clubs which owners can join to learn with their dog the techniques of Field-Trail work.
These specialized shows involve working sheepdogs competing against each other, usually on a faults and time basis. The aim is to complete a specific herding operation at a long range, the dogs being controlled by whistle signals.