“Conformation” is the official name for “dog shows.” While they may seem glamorous, the true purpose of conformation showing is to evaluate breeding stock. The dog’s conformation—his overall appearance and structure—is an indication of the dog’s ability to produce quality purebred puppies, and that is what is being judged in the ring. That’s why mixed-breeds and spayed or neutered purebreds are not eligible to compete. Many times a new exhibitor will get started in dog shows by finding a mentor, usually the breeder they acquired their puppy from.
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE
Any dog registered with the American Kennel Club that is 6 months or older on the day of the show and of a breed for which classes are offered in the premium list is eligible to be entered at a dog show.
Spayed or neutered dogs are not eligible to compete in conformation classes at a dog show, nor are dogs with disqualifying faults as per their breed’s standard.
First, start by reading the breed standard.
LEARNING TO SHOW YOUR DOG
Locate a local training club and ask if they offer conformation classes. These are usually drop in classes aimed and teaching you and your dog proper ring procedure as well as tips on presenting your dog in the show ring.
If you don’t wish to handle your dog yourself, you may contact a professional handler to show your dog. Professional handlers charge a fee for showing dogs, so before hiring a handler make sure you obtain a schedule of the fee. Talk to several handlers, get copies of their rate schedules and visit their facilities. Observe them both in and out of the ring before making up your mind which handler to choose. You will be entrusting them with your dog’s care, so make sure you are entirely comfortable before doing so.
Attending local dog shows will also help you become familiar with how they work and also give you the opportunity to meet other breeders and handlers and ask questions. You can find a list of local dog shows on the AKC events calendar.
AKC NATIONAL OWNER HANDLER SERIES
Did you know that more than 80% of show dogs are handled by their owners? The AKC National Owner-Handled Series celebrates the dedication and enthusiasm of owner-handler exhibitors and allows them to compete head-to-head against one another in the conformation ring.