Dog Show Basics

Are you proud of your beautiful baby? Have you considered showing your dog in a show? There is much more to showing your puppy then just showing up at the show! Read on for more info…

The different types of dog shows


These are shows that can be entered on the day. Open shows are usually held over 1 days and frequently attract an entry of about 300-400 dogs. Classes are held for each individual breed, there are also mixed classes for breeds which do not have their own separate classes (these are usually the rarer/less numerically strong breeds) This is a great way to get started and is how we started. Show goers are all very Helpful and will assist you to learn the skill required to show your dog.


These are the biggest shows. They attract and entry of between 10-12,000 dogs and must be entered 5-7 weeks in advance. They are normally held over 3 or 4 days and include classes for most kennel club recognised breeds.
Details of when and where a show will be held are published on the Kusa Website as well as on Showdogs Website.

Entering your dog for Championship & Open shows

A dog must be a minimum of 12 Weeks of age in order to enter a show. Any dog that has been spayed or neutered may be shown subject to permission from the Kennel Club, they are then entered as per normal and compete alongside all other dogs. Owners of dogs which have had any type of surgery must apply to the Kennel club for permission to show…the KC will then make a decision as to whether the dog may be shown or not depending on the surgery performed.
In order to enter a show, you must first obtain a show schedule, these are available on sites and explain and list all available classes at the show in question, they can be obtained through the show secretary.

Once you have obtained a schedule look through it and find which classes your dog is eligible for. Each breed will have a set of classes and all the classes are explained in the schedule, for example ‘puppy’ is for dogs between the ages of 6 and 12 months and Junior is for dogs up to the age of 18 months. Other classes are defined by the number of wins a dog has previously achieved while attending other shows. Having decided in which classes you wish to enter your dog fill in the form and send it along with your payment to the address as instructed.



In order for you and your dog to learn show techniques you may find it helpful to attend a local ring craft class. Here you will be shown how to stand and move your dog and what else is expected of you.



Preparation for a show varies greatly from breed to breed. Some dogs require clipping or trimming, most require bathing, others require specialist shampoos or equipment. A good thing to do when thinking of showing your dog is to ask you dog’s breeder for some advice. Alternatively, contact your breed club and ask about show preparation, they will be able to point you in the right direction.



On arriving at a show first obtain a catalogue, each dog attending a show is allocated a number and the number will be entered in the catalogue. You will need to find out which ring you are due to show in, and collect your numbers at these at the exhibitors tent prior to your class entering the ring. All numbers must be worn whilst in the ring.


Once your breed is due to be shown the ring steward (the judge’s aid) will call the classes, he informs exhibitors which class is next due in the ring. The usual procedure to showing in a class is as follows:

1 – All dogs are ‘set up’ (made to stand correctly) so that the judge can make an initial assessment of them,

2 –The dogs will then be asked to move round the ring…once or twice,

3 – Each dog is then examined by the judge, small breeds usually stand on a table, large breeds on the ground, the judge will inform the exhibitor exactly what he requires them to do. The dog is then asked to move up and down the ring so the judge can assess movement.

4 – The dogs are then all set up again and the judge will make his placing, usually from first to fifth.

5 – If you wish to withdraw from a class you should inform the ring steward before your class starts.


Each class is judged in turn. At championship shows the dogs and bitches of each breed have separate classes, once all the classes have been judged the Challenge Certificates are awarded first to the dogs then the bitches. A challenge certificate or ‘CC’ is an award given by a judge to a dog or bitch considered to be worthy of the title ‘Champion’. If a dog wins 5 CC’s from 5 different judges he is permitted to use the title Champion in front of his name. In order to award the CCs the judge calls the unbeaten dogs back into the ring and chooses the best dog from the class winners, this dog is then awarded the CC. The second best dog is then awarded the reserve CC. The procedure is then repeated for the bitches. The dog and bitch CC winners then compete for the overall winner, this is called the ‘Best of Breed’. All unbeaten puppies compete for the title of ‘Best Puppy’ in breed.


Each best of breed then competes in its group for the title of ‘Best in Group’. There are 7 groups. These are:
• Hound
• Terrier
• Pastoral
• Working
• Gundog
• Utility
• Toy


Each breed is classified under one of the groups.

Once all the groups are judged the 6 group winners compete for the title BEST IN SHOW.


Confused? It’s not really that complicated. There are exceptions to that which normally takes place at most championship shows, not every breeds will have classes at all shows, those breeds that do have classes may not award CC’s.


Open shows do not award CC’s at all but otherwise go through a similar procedure to Championship shows.


Win or lose it should be done gracefully. A polite ‘well done’ and a handshake are always well received and lets face it hopefully one day the tables may be turned and the gesture returned.


It is always better to keep ones opinions to ones self….bitchiness beside the ring makes for a bad atmosphere and a less enjoyable day for all. If your opinion is asked for be polite and tactful….treat people the way you would wish to be treated.


It is not ‘the done thing’ to speak or approach the judge whilst in the ring. Any questions should be kept till after judging is completed and then should be polite and courteous, after all the judge is only giving his opinion on the dogs present even if it doesn’t agree with yours.


If you feel you have need to complain it is always best to approach the shows secretary, however please try and remember that it’s a fun day out and taking things too seriously takes away the pleasure…things always look different after a goods night sleep.