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Dog Shows are a sporting event where the beauty and the brain of your dog are judged. Showing in the breed ring is for beauty Ðhow the dog compares to the breed standard, while performing in the obedience ring shows off the brain. The show is governed by official rules set up by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Showing in the breed ring is like a pyramid. Starting at the base, the classes are first divided by the breed of dog, then by the age and sex of the dog. A dog must be at least six months old to enter the show. The classes are divided by age for puppies (6-9mos; 9-12mos; 12-18mos); with classes for older dogs. The winners of each class for males compete against each other for "Winners Dog", and the same for bitches, "Winners Bitch". Theses "Winners" will compete against dogs & bitches, which have compiled 15 points and are champions. The winner of this class is "Best of Breed". The "Best of Breed" will compete against all other "Best of Breeds" from the specific group they are in, (Sporting, Hounds, Non-sporting, Toys, Working, Herding, and Terrier). The winner in each group competes against themselves, with the winner being judged "Best in Show".

To obtain a championship title, the dog must obtain 15 points, of which there are two majors. Points are based on the number dogs by sex that are shown in that breed. The point structure runs from 1 point on up to 5 points. A major is 3 points or higher. An example is if your male dog defeated 12 other male dogs to be winners dog, your dog would receive a 3 point major.

Another part of the showing in the breed ring is Junior Showmanship. This time the handler of the dog is judged on their handling abilities. The handlers are between the ages of 10 years to 18 years. The classes are divided by age, and the ability of the handler. Novice is for the beginner, with the Open class for handlers that have won a number of first places. Each class winner competes against each other for "Best Junior Handler". The epitome of junior handler classes is at Westminster. To qualify at Westminster the junior handler must have won at least eight Best Junior Handler awards.

Finally the brain of the dog show classes is Obedience. This is divided between Novice, Open, and Utility classes. In these classes the dog and handler work as a team completing a number of exercises. In Novice, the exercises are heeling on leash and off leash with a number sits, heeling on leash in a figure 8, a stand for examination by the judge, a recall, and long sits and downs. Open classes having heeling off leash combined with a recall where the dog will lay down on command in the middle of the recall, retrieving, jumping, and sits/downs with the handler out of sight. The hardest class is Utility. The commands are given by hand signal, there is jumping, directed retrieves, and scent discrimination. All the competitors in obedience start off with a perfect score of 200. Points are deducted for ÒfaultsÓ the dog may do while completing the exercises. A qualifying score is 170, which would give that dog a ÒlegÓ to its obedience title, CD for novice, CDX for Open, and UD for utility. In these classes there is a division between Novice, Open and Utility A which is for people who have not put a title on a dog in these particular classes and the B classes which are for people who have titled at least one dog. Three legs are needed for each of these titles. For the title of UDX, ten qualify legs in both Open and Utility. And finally for the title of Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH), the dog must have his UD title, then he is awarded points based on placements and dogs defeated in both Open B and Utility B. He must also win two first places in either class. Very few dogs get to this level, so it is quite an honor to earn this title. Dog shows are fun, family entertainment. To check out where and when the next dog show in your neighborhood may be, see the AKC website at www.akc.org, dog events, under Event & Award search.

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