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The basic purpose of conformation dog shows is to facilitate the evaluation of breeding stock for use in producing the next generations.

JUDGING AND STANDARDS

Each breed's parent club creates a STANDARD, a written description of the ideal specimen of that breed. Generally relating form to function, i.e., the original function that the dog was bred to perform, most standards describe general appearance, movement, temperament, and specific physical traits such as height and weight, coat, colors, eye color and shape, ear shape and placement, feet, tail, and more. Some standards can be very specific, some can be rather general and leave much room for individual interpretation by judges. This results in the sport's subjective basis: one judge, applying his or her interpretation of the standard, giving his or her opinion of the best dog on that particular day. Standards are written, maintained and owned by the parent clubs of each breed.


BENCHED SHOWS

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is one of the few benched dog shows in this country. Originally, most shows were "benched" in some fashion, where the entered dogs were required to be in assigned areas (on benches) at all times when not being judged in the ring. This allowed for interaction of dogs and their owners with spectators and other owners and breeders as an educational process.

GROUPS

SPORTING: (Group 1) These are gun dogs that were developed to assist the hunter, and generally have high energy and stable temperaments. Pointers and Setters point and mark the game, Spaniels flush the bird, Retrievers recover the game from land or water.

HOUND: (Group 2) Hounds were originally classified as Sporting dogs, but were assigned their own group in 1930. These dogs are hunters that bring down the game themselves, or hold it at bay until the hunter arrives, or locate the game by tracking it by scent. Sight hounds hunt by sight, Scent hounds by tracking with their superior olfactory senses.

WORKING: (Group 3) These dogs are generally intelligent and powerfully built, performing a variety of tasks, including guarding homes and livestock, serving as draft animals, and as police, military and service dogs.

TERRIER: (Group 4) "Terrier" comes from the Latin word, terra (ground) as these determined and courageous dogs must be small enough and agile enough to "go to ground" to pursue their quarry (rats, foxes, and other vermin). All but the Australian Terrier and the Miniature Schnauzer were developed in the United Kingdom.

TOY: (Group 5) Toy dogs were bred to be companions for people. They are full of life and spirit and often resemble their larger cousins (e.g., Pomeranian as a Nordic breed, the Papillion a little Spaniel, and the Toy Poodle the smallest variety of the Poodle).

NON-SPORTING: (Group 6) The AKC originally registered dogs as either Sporting or Non-Sporting. Hounds and Terriers split off the Sporting Group, Toys and Working from the Non-Sporting, and later, Herding from the Working Group. The remaining dogs, with a great diversity of traits not fitting any of the above, comprise the Non-Sporting Group.

HERDING: (Group 7) This group split off from the Working Group in 1983. Herding is a natural instinct in dogs, and their purpose is to serve ranchers and farmers by moving livestock from one place to another.

TERMINOLOGY

ALL ROUNDER: An individual licensed to judge every breed.

ARM BAND: A number an exhibitor is assigned for his/her entry. The armband is worn on the exhibitors left arm when showing the dog in the ring. The number is assigned to the dog or bitch being shown and the information for that animal is shown in the catalog under its breed listing. Dogs are assigned odd numbers and Bitches have even numbers (conformation classes only, this does not hold true for obedience or rally entries).

AWARD OF MERIT: At the discretion of the judge, an additional award made to outstanding entries that are not judged to be BOB / BOV or BOS.

BAIT: A treat or toy used to get the dogs attention while in the ring.

BEST IN SHOW (BIS): The award or the dog selected from among the seven finalists as the best dog among all entries.

BEST OF BREED (BOB): The dog selected or the award made by a judge to that dog chosen as the best representative of the Breed. Similarly, Best of Variety (BOV) is the same award given to the best representative of a Variety exhibited that day (see VARIETY). In either case, those dogs selected BOB and those selected BOV each advance to their groups.

BEST OF OPPOSITE SEX (BOS): The dog selected as the best in competition of the opposite sex of the BOB or BOV winner. This dog does not advance.

BENCHED SHOW: A show where dogs are required to be on assigned to benches (a cubicle) while not being shown. This allows all concerned - spectators, breeders, handlers and owners - the opportunity to interact, ask questions, and share information about the various breeds.

BITCH: In the dog show world “Bitch” refers to the female of the species.

BREED TYPE: The manifestation of those unique traits and characteristics of a dog that distinguish it as a particular breed.

BREEDER: The owner of the dam when she was bred to produce the dog.

BREEDER-OWNER-HANDLER: An individual who bred, owns and handles that dog. Similarly, an Owner-Handler is someone who handles a dog that they also own.

BREEDER-JUDGE: Someone licensed to judge dogs of their breed.

CATALOG: The compilation by breed of all dogs entered in the show, listing armband numbers, birthdates, sire and dam, breeders and owners.

CHAMPION: A title or the dog that has earned a certain number of points (15) in competition with wins in AKC shows. A dog must be a champion to enter Westminster.

CLASS DOG/BITCH: This refers to a dog/bitch being shown in the regular classes (Puppy, Open, Am. Bred etc)

CONFORMATION: The structure and physical characteristics of a dog.

DOG: In the dog show world “Dog” refers to the male of the species.

GAIT: The action of movement of the dog. Generally speaking, a sound and balanced gait usually indicates proper conformation and structure. Dogs are show at the trot.

HANDLER: The person who is showing the dog in the ring.


LIMITED ENTRY: Where the entry is governed by certain parameters set by the club, such as total number of dogs or champions only; or in Junior Showmanship, a certain number of qualifying wins for the handler.

NATIONALS: A show held once a year for a single breed. Each breeds “national” normally features events common to the purpose of the breed such as hunting tests for sporting dogs like Labrador Retrievers, Pointers and Cocker Spaniels. Earth dog tests for terriers like Cairns, Scotties and Westies. Coursing events for hounds like Afghans, Salukis and Whippets. Herding events for herding dogs like Collies, Corgis and Australian Cattle dogs. Most nationals have obedience and tracking tests for the dogs to compete in as well. They also put on seminars and most have auctions of dog items pertaining to the breed being shown as well as many other exciting activities for the exhibitors/attendees.

PATTERN: A pattern is a predetermined direction the dog is taken around the ring by its handler and is how the judge assesses the dogs’ movement according to its written standard. The patterns are: the “Down and Back”, the “Triangle”, the “L” and the “T”. The Down and Back and the Triangle are used the most.

POINTS: This is what every person who enters a conformation dog show wants! Points are awarded to one dog and one bitch of each breed at the class level. The number of points awarded depends on how many entries were present that day. A dog/bitch can receive 1-5 points depending on how many were competing. Points can also be obtained by going group 1st or Best in Show.

PROFESSIONAL HANDLER: Someone who handles a dog for a fee.

RING: The cordoned off area where the dogs are actively being shown. There are usually many “rings” at a show. The show catalog will give information as to what breed is showing in what ring at what time.

SET UP: An area where the dogs are kept when not showing (handlers/owners usually rent these spaces within the show site). This area usually contains all of the handlers/owners grooming tables, ex-pens and all the gear needed to get the dogs ready to show and keep them comfortable when not showing.

SPECIAL: This refers to a dog/bitch that has obtained champion status and is still showing. These dogs/bitches compete in the “best of breed” class showing against other champions as well as the winners bitch and winners dog (the ones that received the points from the regular classes preceding best of breed judging).

STACK: The pose itself or the posing of the dog by a handler in its natural stance.

STANDARD: The written description of the traits and movement of the ideal specimen of a breed, generally based on form and function. Each parent club creates and maintains their breed standard. Judges are to judge dogs by comparing them to the standard for their breed.

STEWARD: The person/s who assist the judge by checking in the dogs and giving out the armbands, calling the dogs to the ring for the class being judged and overall making sure the ring runs smoothly for the judge. Without stewards the judges job would be difficult and very time consuming! We all need to thank the stewards for their efforts at dog shows!

SPECIALTY: A show for a single breed or a breed group (i.e. terrier or sporting)

VARIETY: A division of a breed based on coat, color, or size. For example, Poodles (size: Standard, Miniature, Toy), Cocker Spaniels (color: Black, Parti-color, ASCOB); Collies (coat: Rough, Smooth).
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