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Little Red Dog Nellie Photo

Little Red Dog Nellie

dog competing for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars - photo

American Kennel Club

Animal Planet


Dog shows combine the thrill of competition with the joy of watching beautiful show dogs in action. Because they offer a little something for everyone, their popularity has skyrocketed-with the number of dogs competing in shows jumping from 40,000 in 1930 to more than 1.5 million in 2001.

Like any sport, knowing the rules makes watching more enjoyable. Below are some tips.

"Dog Show 101"

A conformation show lets breeders determine the success of their breeding program and evaluate dogs for use as future breeding stock.

Entrants are whittled down through the process of elimination, with one dog named Best in Show, or National Invitational Champion in the AKC/Eukanuba National Invitational Championship.

Judging of the dogs is based on the official written breed standard specified by the breed's parent club, such as the German Shepherd Dog Club of America. You can view the standards for every AKC-recognized breed on

The standard outlines a breed's overall appearance, structure, form, movement and temperament. In competition, the judge evaluates each dog against the written standard, not against other dogs.

First, all dogs of the same breed are judged. At the AKC/ Eukanuba National Invitational Championship, there may be as many as 30 Chinese Shar-Pei competing for the award of Best of Breed. To the untrained eye, they may look similar, but  to judges and breeders, subtle nuances mean the difference between 1st and 2nd place.

Only the Best of Breed winners advance to compete in the group competition. Each AKC-recognized breed falls into one of seven group classifications: 

Sporting: developed for hunting feathered game

Hound: bred for hunting by sight or scent

Working: used to pull carts and guard property and for search and rescue work

Terrier: originally bred to hunt vermin

Toy: bred as companion animals and characterized by their very small size

Non-Sporting: diverse group of multi-functional dogs 

Herding: commonly bred to drive livestock from one place to another

In group competition, all breeds of a particular group are judged together. Judges evaluate each dog on how closely it resembles its breed standard. In the Hound Group, which includes dogs such as Beagles, Greyhounds and Dachshunds, top winning dogs of each breed compete for the Group First award.

The Group winner from each of the seven groups advances to the Best in Show competition, the highest award at a dog show.

If you think you do, you're invited to join the DO YOU LOOK LIKETM YOUR DOG? Competition


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