An Introduction to Showing your Dog

2nd January 2013 - in Showing

How exciting a new puppy in the house. Lots of things to think of including the possibility of showing him/her. But where to start ? I hope you will find this introduction to showing helpful in getting started in the world of showing. Who knows you may get bitten by the bug and then you will meet lots of new friends and spend your week ends sitting in cold wet show grounds freezing or sweltering under hot sunny skies.

Types of Dog Show

There are many different types of shows. From the fun and casual companion shows right up to the four day Championship ones. Some are open to all breeds of dog including the many and various cross breeds, some only to Kennel Club registered dogs.

Before you dive into the water, check first that your pup is registered with the Kennel Club and make sure you fill in and send off the form given to you by your breeder to change the ownership into your name. Unless you have your pup registered with the Kennel Club (KC) in your name you will not be able to enter shows in your own right.

The different types of shows are:-

  • Companion shows
  • Matches
  • Limit shows
  • Open shows
  • Premier Open shows
  • Breed club shows (Open and Championship)
  • Championship shows

Companion shows

Companion shows are open to all breeds whether registered with the KC or not including cross-breeds and mongrels. Some of these will be sanctioned by the KC and some not. They usually have some breed classes such as Any variety sporting or non sporting and some fun classes like the dog with the waggiest tail or the prettiest bitch.

These shows are often held in conjunction with agricultural shows or country fairs. You can go along on the day and enter. It is usually just a couple of pounds per class and is all for fun. They often give nice rosettes and many have quite large entries.

Companion shows are not recognised by the Kennel Club as conformation shows in that lots of the classes are just for fun. The following shows are recognised by the KC as being judged on conformation of the dog i.e. its body shape, bone structure, coat, etc.


Matches are organised by canine societies and are often held at ringcraft classes. They are usually only open to members of the society and are ideal for getting an introduction to what it is like to be in a ring and have a judge handle your dog. If you have any interest in showing then you do need to find your local ringcraft class and join. It will be your starting place into the show world and can be lots of fun and a perfect place to teach your new pup how to stand and have a stranger handle him. They are basically learning places. They will be classed as conformation shows as the dogs will be judged against their breed standards.

Sometimes some of the breed clubs will hold an occasional special match and these are a little different. However they run on the same principle but have much more prestige if you are lucky enough to win. Most matches are entered on the day and are often held in the same place as the ringcraft classes. The breed club matches normally require you to enter in advance. Some need your dog to have qualified by winning certain classes first. The requirements will be explained on the entry forms. These these shows are usually held under a licence from the KC. However wins in these shows are not counted towards awards like Junior Warrant or Champion.

Limit Shows

Limit shows are, as the name implies, limited to certain requirements, either by being a member of the canine society or living in a designated area. These shows are sanctioned by the KC. They are judged by conformation. The classes are often limited and usually will be judged in groups or sub-groups such as Any Variety (AV) Working or Any Variety Terrier.

Open Shows

Open shows come in three varieties: open, premier open and breed club open. These shows are held under a licence from the KC. They can be breed specific as most breed clubs hold one or two open shows each year. So you can have a Breed club open show or a general open show. However you will not get a breed club premier open.

All of these open shows form the ground roots of the shows that carry points towards such titles as Junior Warrant (JW) or Show certificate of Merit (ShCM). You will need to enter these shows in advance.

With a premier open show, certain wins will qualify your dog for entry to Crufts. Check on the schedule for which wins will do this. You cannot take a dog into these shows unless it has been entered in advance. The cost of a class is often around the 5-6 mark for a 1st entry less for subsequent entries with the same dog. If you have dogs you do not wish to show but want to take with you then they need to be entered as Not For Competition (NFC).

Championship Shows

Championship Shows are the shows that will give you dog the chance to gain a Championship title. They are often run over 3-4 days and can be limited to general, group or breed. A general championship show will have classes for most breeds and include all the breed groups (working, pastoral, terrier, hound, gundog, toy and utility). A group championship show will be limited to one or two groups such as working & pastoral, and a breed championship show is limited to one breed such as the Bernese Mountain Dog club of GB Championship show.

These shows are held under licence from the KC. You will need to enter these shows in advance and the classes will be much more varied. They are often in excess of 20 per class (1st entry) less for further entries with the same dog. Once again if taking a dog that is not entered in the conformation classes then it will need to be entered NFC. Sometimes championship shows will not accept NFC entries and so make sure before you go that you will not have to leave un-entered dogs in the car.

The different groups will be held on different days, working & pastoral one day, hound & terrier the next and so on.

Next Week - Dog Show Classes