Most competitive events held
under AKC rules are dog shows, where the accent is on conformation. After
being examined by a judge, dogs are placed according to how well (in the
judge's opinion) they measure up to their breed standard.
To be eligible to enter, an AKC-registered dog must be at least six months
old on the day of the show and be of a breed for which classes are offered
in the premium list (the list of breeds being shown). Dogs that are spayed
or neutered are only eligible to be shown in stud dog and brood bitch
classes. Dogs with disqualifying faults as described in their breed
standard are ineligible.
There are three types of dog shows: specialty, group and all-breed.
Specialty shows are limited to dogs of one breed and group shows are
limited to a particular AKC group. All-breed shows, as the name indicates,
are for all AKC breeds.
Most show dogs are competing for points toward their championship. To
become an official AKC champion of record, a dog must earn a total of 15
points, which would include 2 major wins under 2 different judges. These
points are awarded based on the number of dogs in actual competition--the
more dogs, the more points. However, the number of dogs required for points
varies with the breed, sex and geographical location of the show. The AKC
makes up a schedule of points each year to help equalize competition from
breed to breed and area to area.
Dogs can earn from one to five points at a show. A win of three, four or
five points is called a major. The 15 points required for a championship
must be won under at least three different judges, and must include two
majors won under different judges.
There are six regular classes in which dogs seeking points may compete.
(Dogs that are competing for points are frequently referred to as class
dogs.) these classes are
Puppy (frequently subdivided into 6 to 9 months and 9 to 12
12 to 18 Months;
Novice (dogs that have no points toward their championship and have
not won three first prizes in the Novice class or a first prize in any but
the Puppy classes);
Bred by Exhibitor (the dog must be owned or co-owned by any one of
the breeders of record or a spouse and must be shown by one of the breeders
of record or a member of their immediate families);
and Open (which may be divided according to weight or color).
There is no intersex competition
in these classes; dogs compete against other dogs, and bitches against
other bitches. Only one male (dog) and one female (bitch) of each breed can
win points at a show.
Judging in every breed proceeds along the same lines. The judge begins with
the Puppy Dog class. In each class the dogs are evaluated and placements
are made for first, second, third and fourth. Only the first-place winner
in each class remains in competition; the others are eliminated.
After the judge has completed the Puppy Dogs, 12-to-18-Month Dogs, Novice
Dogs, Bred-by-Exhibitor Dogs, American-Bred Dogs and Open Dogs, the first
place winners from each class are brought back to compete against one
another. This is called Winners class. The dog selected best is the Winners
Dog. He is the male who receives the points at the show. Next, the dog that
placed second to the Winners Dog in his original class is brought into the
ring to compete with the other class winners for Reserve Winners Dog. The
Reserve Winners Dog will receive the points if for any reason the Winners
Dog is disallowed by the AKC.
The same process is repeated in bitches, resulting in a Winners Bitch (the
only bitch of the breed to receive points at the show) and a Reserve
Next, the Best of Breed/Variety
class is judged. All dogs and bitches that are already champions enter in
the ring for this class, joined by the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch, the
judge selects one Best of Breed/Variety. Then, between the Winners Dog and
Winners Bitch, the judge selects a Best of Winners. If either the Winners
Dog or the Winners Bitch is selected Best of Breed, it automatically
becomes Best of Winners. (The Best of Winners gets the higher number of
points, too. If the points at the show for the defeated Winner were higher
than those of the Best of Winners, the Best now gets the same higher
total.) The judge finishes the breed judging by selecting a Best of
Opposite Sex to the Best of Breed/Variety. (A Variety exists when there are
two or more varieties of a breed. Such breed divisions are approved by the
AKC and may be according to height, weight, color, or hair type.)
At all-breed shows, this process of elimination takes place in every breed.
Each Best of Breed/Variety winner then competes against other Best of
Breed/Variety winners within its Group (Hound, Sporting, Working,
Non-Sporting, Herding, Toy, Terrier). In the Group judging, the judge's job
is to pick the dog that most embodies the standard for its breed. Four
placements are awarded in each Group, but only the first-place winner
remains in competition. Finally, the seven Group winners are brought into
the ring and a Best in Show winner is selected.