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Understanding Dog Shows

better yet......Dogshows 101

Approximately one week before the show, exhibitors are mailed a judging program for the shows. From this they determine their breed's ring time and ring number. Their breed's judging will never begin earlier than the designated time but, depending on how many breeds of dogs are assigned the same ring number and time, their breed's start time may be much later. 

Dogs (males) are always shown first. The armband numbers for dogs are odd numbers. Bitches (females) have even numbers.

First to be lead into the show ring are the class dogs. These are dogs that are not champions and are looking to win the points*. They are divided into the following classes:

6 to 9 month

9 to 12 month

12 to 18 month

Bred By Exhibitor- the exhibitor of the dog is also it's owner and breeder

American Bred


Open - any dog of any age can be shown in this class

Each class that has dogs entered has a first place winner along with 2nd, 3rd and 4th, if there are that many dogs in each class. Once all those male dog classes are judged, the first place winners from each of the classes are put in the ring together and the judge picks Winners Dog (WD). This dog wins the coveted points*. (At this point, if there is a second place winner in the same class that the Winners Dog came from he then would go in the ring.) The judge then picks Reserve Winners Dog (in case the winners dogs has a descrepancy with the AKC then the reserve winners dog gets the points.)

Then they do the exact same thing with the bitches (females), ending up with the Winners Bitch (WB).

Winners Dog and Winners Bitch are the only wins where points* are awarded at an AKC dog show, and the ribbons awarded are solid purple. These points* are necessary to earn a championship.

Then it's time for the Best of Breed (BOB) catagory. This consists of only AKC Champions of record (they are also called "Specials") and bringing up the rear are the Winners Dog and the Winners Bitch, in that order. 

The judge then chooses Best of Breed (BOB), Best of Winners (BOW) which is the dog or bitch that won out between winners dog and winners bitch and then Best of Opposite Sex (BOS). Then Select Dog and Select Bitch are chosen. 

The Best of Breed winner then goes into the Toy Group Ring. These Best of Breed winners are who you see if you watch the Westminster or Eukanuba Dog Shows on television. There are 7 groups in the AKC. Each winner of the 7 Groups then compete for Best In Show.

It can be pretty confusing at first.

*A dog needs a total of 15 points to gain an AKC Championship. Of those points two wins have to be major (a 3, 4 or 5 point win) under different judges. It depends on how many dogs and bitches are being shown in the show as to how many points you win as Winners Dog or Winners Bitch. The least amount of points is 0, the most is 5. The point schedule is determined by the AKC and is available on their website.

In order to gain an AKC Grand Championship, the dog must already have attained it's Champion title. The dog then competes in the Best of Breed Ring to gather points towards it's Grand Championship. The dog needs 25 points, with three major wins. The point system is calculated by the number of dogs defeated. For a more detailed explanation from AKC of Grand Championship points click here.

For those who truly enjoy showing their dogs, or for those who attempt to rank their dog, there are levels of Grand Championship... bronze, silver and gold. Dog rankings, by breed and all breed system can be found at under Statistics.

Below are a few selected dog show websites:

�2015 written by Robin Gillespie, Gilwood Havanese

do not reproduce without permission

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