Dog Days of Summer Part 1: All About a Dog Show

The American Kennel Club (AKC) was created over a hundred years ago in 1884. The goal of the AKC is to encourage the showing, breeding and study of purebred dogs. With nearly 610 member clubs and more than 21,000 events that they support each year, the AKC is easily the largest non-profit purebred dog registry in the nation.

Dog shows are only one of numerous AKC dog events where AKC-registered dogs compete. Showing dogs is a sport that combines the excitement of competition with the delight of viewing diverse dog breeds. The size of the dog event (agility and obedience), vary from relatively small local specialty shows to large all-breed shows with over 3,000 dogs participating.

There are three types of dog shows: all-breed shows, specialty shows and group shows. Only the specific breeds are shown in specialty shows whereas 160 breeds of dogs compete in the all-breed shows. All-breed shows are the type of show usually shown on television. There are seven groups of dog breeds:

Herding– Collies and German Shepherds
Non-Sporting– Dalmatians and Poodles
Sporting– Retrievers and Spaniels
Working– Boxers and St. Bernards
Hound– Bassets and Greyhounds
Terrier– Cairn Terriers and Scottish Terriers
Toy– Pugs and Pomeranians

Each dog is shown (“handled”) by its owner or a hired professional to be presented to a judge. The AKC also offers junior showmanship which allows dog owners aged 9-18 to handle their dogs and compete with others their own age. The judge goes by a standard for each breed. A standard is a set of guidelines covering a dog’s personality, structure and movement. The judge is looking for the dog that is closest to the breed standard.

Most dogs are competing for points. 5 points is the maximum number of points a dog can receive in one show. It takes 15 points awarded by at least three different judges for a dog to become an American Kennel Club “Champion of Record”. The Best of breed is the dog that is judged as best in it’s breed category and matches the standard almost perfectly.

At the end of the show only one dog will be named Best in Show. There are 11 different colored ribbons a judge can give to each dog that receives an award. The color of the ribbon shows the type of award won. For example, first place receives a blue ribbon, second place a red and third place a yellow.
Dog shows are a great family activity during the summer. When the weather is nice, they are a great outdoor event and are appropriate for all ages. Look for my next blog where I talk about a dog show I visited and all the interesting people I met there! Visit for more information about dog shows.

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  1. fresh happy kid on July 27, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I love watching dog show unfortunately I missed this event of American Kennel Club. Too bad the next dog show will be on December. But I'm looking forward to it.