How A Dog Show Works
Showing dogs is a great sport where the thrill of competition is combined with the joy of seeing
beautiful dogs. Conformation dog shows are one of nine types of AKC dog events in which
AKC-registered dogs can compete. Other AKC events include tests of instinct and trainability,
such as field trials or herding tests.
At a dog show, the main consideration is the dog's conformation or overall appearance and structure.
The judges examine the dogs and place them in accordance to how close each dog compares with their
mental image of the "perfect" dog as described in the breed's official standard.
These standards include qualifications for structure, temperament and movement. In short, they describe
the characteristics that allow the breed to perform the function for which it was bred. These official written
standards are maintained by each breed's national club and published in AKC's The Complete Dog Book.
The judges are experts in the breeds they are judging. They examine or "go over" each dog with their hands to
see if the teeth, muscles, bones and coat texture match the standard. They examine each dog in profile for general
balance, and watch each dog gait, or move, to see how all of those features fit together in action. Dog shows are
basically a process of elimination, with one dog being named Best In Show at the end of the day. Along the way,
some dogs accumulate points toward the title "AKC Champion."