This article is from the American Kennel Club FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
When people think of "showing," they are usually thinking of
conformation showing. However, "showing" actually comprises showing
your dog under any of three categories: conformation (meeting physical
standards), field (meeting working standards), or obedience (meeting
obedience standards). All AKC-recognized breeds are eligible to show
under conformation and obedience. Field trials are reserved for those
breeds bred for such work, except for the tracking trials which are
open to all, and are tailored to the type of work bred for: e.g.,
hunting, retrieving, pointing, herding, and coursing.
To start showing requires an investment of time, money, and contacts.
But it is a richly rewarding area, and there are hundreds of thousands
of people throughout the world who enjoy competing with their dogs
under Kennel Club auspices. This article summarizes the titles and
events offered by the American Kennel Club.
For showing in the AKC, the only pre-requirement is that the dog be
registered with the AKC (either litter registration, individual
registration, or ILP), and be at least 6 months old the day of the
trial. Shots should be current for your own dog's health. If the
showing is in conformation, the dog must also be sexually intact.
Indefinite Listing Privilege
If your dog is or appears to be (AKC-recognized) purebred but is
unregistered or your dog is a breed currently in AKC's Miscellaneous
Class, you can get an ILP (Indefinite Listing Privilege) number to do
anything but conformation and field work. The procedure for getting an
ILP is as follows:
* Write to the AKC for a form.
* Fill out the form -- it asks what the history of the dog is, where
you got it, why you think it is pure-bred. Eg, a breeder's opinion
that the dog is purebred, it was rescued through a breed rescue
* Take two pictures of your dog -- one side shot standing, one front
* Have your dog neutered. This is required for all dogs that are
applying for ILPs except for those in the Miscellaneous class.
Include the veterinarian's certificate of neutering in with the
* Mail the form, pictures, and certificate of neutering along with
If your dog isn't purebred or is a breed not recognized by AKC, you
can still get titles through breed-specific clubs, rare-breed clubs,
alternative kennel clubs, or mixed-breed clubs. For example, AMBOR
(American Mixed Breed Obedience Registry), at 205 First Street SW, New
Prague, MN 56071, offers obedience and other titles to mixed breed and
rare breed dogs with the UKC. UKC and SKC often recognize breeds that
the AKC does not, and the UKC has a special program to allow mixed
breed dogs to compete in performance trials.
Naming and registration
A dog's registered name must meet the following criteria (from "AKC
Policies And Guidelines for Registration Matters")
* Name length is limited to 25 characters, not including spaces,
apostrophes and hyphens.
* Letters in the name are restricted to the standard English
alphabet; apostrophes, hyphens, and spaces are the only
punctuation that appear in a dog's name. The certificate will be
printed in all upper case.
* Lifetime kennel names and registered name prefixes cannot be used
without the consent of the owner of the name.
* No arabic numbers, no Roman numerals at the end of the name.
* A limit of 37 dogs in one breed may have the same name.
* AKC reserves the right to append Roman numerals to the end of a
name for identification purposes.
* Spelled out cardinal and ordinal numbers may be used (e.g., First,
One, Two, Third, etc).
* The name may not contain "Champion," "Champ," "Sieger," or any
other show term/AKC title, spelled or abbreviated.
* Obscenities or derogatory words may not be used.
* "Kennel," "dog," "male," "sire," "stud," "bitch," "dam," and
"female" may not appear in the name.
* The name may not consist of the breed name alone.
* Names of living or recently dead persons may not be used.
* An imported dog must be registered under the same name that it was
registered in its country of birth.
All names are subject to AKC approval. Names may not be changed unless
the AKC has made a mistake _and_ the dog has not yet been bred or
earned any titles. This is rare, so choose a name carefully and print