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04 American Kennel Club: Conformation


This article is from the American Kennel Club FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore rpd-info@netcom.com with numerous contributions by others.

04 American Kennel Club: Conformation

When showing a dog in conformation, either you or a professional
hander must "show" the dog in the ring. Whether or not you choose to
use a handler can depend on the breed of dog you are showing: it can
be hard to break into popular breeds and a handler can help gain
recognition; with a rare or less popular breed, the choice of handler
is not as crucial. If you co-own a dog with the breeder, they may
handle your dog for you. If you handle your own dogs, then like any
"sport," as an amateur, you need to be trained, prepared, and ready to
compete with the pros. Take the time to learn the ropes, how to
present your dogs, and how to groom. Ideally, you should find a mentor
to help you learn what you need to know.

Keep in mind that the next new show and the next new judge may pick
the second place dog over the first place dog under the same
conditions that the other dog won under. Different judges have
different preferences in conformation, It's usually better to try and
show under a judge that likes what your dog has to offer in strong
points. Other judges may see something else in other dogs that they
prefer over what your dog has. A year later or the next show, that
same judge may like your dog better. It depends on how the dog is
"showing" each day. Dogs have good and bad days like people do.

To summarize: A Champion (CH) must obtain 15 points. Of those 15
points, two majors (a show where 3, 4, or 5 points are won) must be
obtained under two different judges. The remaining points can come
from 1 or 2 (or more!) point shows; at least one of these must be from
a third judge. A dog must win at least the Winners Dog (WD) or Winners
Bitch (WB) to win points.

After the Winner's Dog and the Winner's Bitch are picked out,
competition goes on to the "Best of Breed" (BOB) class in which the WD
and the WB compete against dogs that already have their championship.
From this class, the Best of Breed (BOB) and Best Opposite Sex (BOS)
are selected; if the BOB is male, the BOS is female and vice versa.

AKC groups all the breeds into seven groups (Sporting, Non-Sporting,
Working, Herding, Terrier, Toy, and Hound). All of the BOB winners
within each breed then compete at Group level (against all other dogs
in their Group that won their respective BOB) for Group I (first
place), II (second place), III (third place), and IV (fourth place).
All seven Group I dogs then compete for Best in Show.

Here's a quick chart to help you get on track:

                       Best of Breed (points toward CH from greater points
                             |        from either sex of class dogs including
                             |        all specials, if also WD/WB)
                   Best of Opposite Sex (points toward CH from greater points
                             |           from either sex of class dogs plus
                             |           specials of same sex, if also WD/WB)
        (WD/WB, Specials and Veterans compete for BOB/BOS)
                      Best of Winners   (points toward CH taken from WD/WB,
                        /         \      whichever had more points)
                       /           \
               Winner's dog    Winner's bitch   (points towards CH from
                 /                         \     same sex group)
                /                           \
     (first in each class advances to Winner's competition)
            Open class                Open class
            American Bred             American Bred
            Bred by Exhibitor         Bred by Exhibitor
            Novice                    Novice
            Dogs (12-18 mo.)          Bitches (12-18 mo.)
            Puppy dogs (9-12 mo.)     Puppy bitches (9-12 mo.) (split in puppy
            Puppy dogs (6-9 mo.)      Puppy bitches (6-9 mo.)  classes optional)

The classes are as follows:

is for any dog, and very often winners will be chosen from this
class. Not always, but usually, since serious contenders are
typically placed in Open. Open classes may be broken up
depending on how many dogs are showing that day. For example,
Labradors sometimes have Open Yellow, Open Black, and Open
Chocolate; Dobermans might have Open Black and Any Solid Color
Other than Black (ASCOB).

_American Bred_
is for those dogs born in the USA. This class is often used if
the handler has another dog in Open already.

_Bred by Exhibitor_
is often considered a prestigious class particularly at
specialties -- breeders show their own dogs here, and winning
WD/WB from this class is usually highly prized by breeders.

is for those dogs that have not yet won a class and is used for
practice with dogs that are too old for the puppy divisions.

The _puppy classes_ (6-9/9-12/12-18)
are usually for practice for young dogs although WD/WB can
certainly come from these classes. The puppy classes may or
many not be split among the three age groups and the 12-18
group may or may not be present at all; it depends on how many
dogs are present.

A _specialty_ is a dog show devoted to one particular breed. Both
breed and obedience classes are usually offered.

Now for some more obscure stuff: Reserve Winners (one for WD and one
for WB) *may* get points if the winner of their sex is later
disqualified. This can happen if the dog is improperly entered (into
the wrong class, for example). So reserve wins can be important. The
Reserve will only replace the Winner's position: if the disqualified
Winner went on to win higher places, those are not awarded to the
Reserve (but they are still removed from the disqualified dog).
Reserve to a Winner is chosen from the dogs remaining from that
Winners competition, plus the dog that received second place in the
class the Winners Dog or Bitch came from.

Specials are Champions; they do not normally compete in the classes,
although they may. Normally, Specials compete directly for BOB/BOS
along with the WD and WB in the Best of Breed competition that is held
after WD/WB is selected from the classes. While they are not awarded
points if they win, many breed clubs award national ratings to dogs
based on the total number of dogs of the same breed that the dog has
won over for a calendar year. Each club calculates the ratings
slightly differently although there are some standard formulas.

Best of Winners picks up the greater of the points that WD/WB has.
This means that it's possible for a WD that got a 1 point minor to
pick up the 3 point major that the WB got if he is awarded BOW over
the WB (the WB retains her 3 point major). If the WD/WB goes Best of
Breed, that dog is automatically Best of Winners and picks up the
appropriate points.

Thus, a 1 or 2 point show can turn into a major depending on how high
your dog goes.

Group winners are chosen from the BOB and BOS from each breed within
the group (all dogs are grouped into Toy, Sporting, Working, etc.
groups): Group I is first place, Group II second place and so on.

Dogs that go on to win Best In Show will get as many points as any dog
they defeat, if those points total more than what they have garnered
so far (but never for more than a total of five points).

But the only dogs that are actually awarded points are the dogs that
were initially Winners Dog or Winners Bitch for their breed.
Therefore, specials or veterans do not get points no matter how many
dogs they won over, which makes sense as they are already Champions
and do not need the points.

The number of points obtained at a particular show is dependent on the
number of dogs or bitches present, the breed, and the geographical
location of the show. There is a point schedule that determines the
ranges: rarer breeds require fewer dogs for points whereas popular
breeds must have more dogs present for the same points. This point
schedule can be found in the catalog available at all shows.


Standards are the "bluprints" for the breeds. Every kennel club has
standards drawn up for the breeds that they recognize. A breed's
Standard is a description of its ideal physical appearance. Serious
breeders and exhibitors need to know the standard for their breed
intimately. The AKC publishes all the Standards for AKC recognized
breeds in its _The Complete Dog Book_.

Finding out where shows are and entering

The Events Calendar (see Publications below) is the definitive listing
of upcoming AKC events put out by the AKC.

Most show superintendents are happy to put you on their mailing lists
and send you premiums of upcoming shows.

_Dog World Magazine_ also lists both AKC and SKC events. Subscription
Information - P.O. Box 6500, Chicago, IL 60680.

Breed specific shows (specialties) are also advertised in
breed-specific magazines; if the breed club is affiliated with the
AKC, it will be listed in the Gazette.

If you get the AKC Gazette, you'll get a show listing and some entry
forms. You'll also get instruction in the booklet on how to fill out
and send in forms (also where). That's all there is to entering.


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