Conformation Shows are those
some people refer to as "dog beauty shows". The shows are where we go to
show off our dogs. Dogs at conformation shows are judged as to how well
these meet (or conform) to the standard of the breed. In the United States
most shows are held under the auspicies of the American Kennel Club (AKC),
hence the Standard
of the breed for the French Bulldog is the AKC standard. Shows
held out of the US may us the standard of that particular country or the
FCI international standard.
There are two types of conformation
shows: specialty and all-breed. All-breed shows will have classes for all
AKC registered breeds, while specialty shows are just for a single breed
or a group of similar breeds (for example Non-Sporting Group dogs, which
is where the Frenchie belongs).
The main consideration at a
conformation show is the overall appearance and structure of the dog as
defined by the "Standard" of the breed. The dogs are judged by AKC licensed
judges according to a breed standard. Judges try to find the best representative
of the breed according to his/her experience and interpretation
of the standard within the collection of dogs with which they are presented
on that day.On any given day, a dog can win or lose, depending on how the
judge interprets the standard.
The key word here is interpretation....
dog show judging is subjective to a certain degree and there can be different
interpretations of the standard. One only needs to attend a few dog shows
to see what I’m talking about. One day a judge may find the most perfect
(FRENCH BULLDOG) you have ever seen only to have the same dog not get a
second look by a different judge on the following day. And, therein lies
the challenge! If you want your dog to achieve the coveted AKC Championship
status it will have to compete under many different judges and will have
to beat many different dogs. However, subjective or not, the closer your
dog fits the standard, the more consistently it will win.
Copies of the standards are
published in a book put out by the AKC called The Complete Dog Book. Click
here to see a copy of the AKC French Bulldog Standard.
Judges are people who have studied
the breed and have a great deal of knowledge about the breeds they judge.
There is a test and interviews as well as years of experience in a breed
a judge must demonstrate before they are certified by the AKC to judge.
The dogs are each shown to the judge in the same manner. They are moved
at a trot so that the judge can evaluate how well the dog is structurally
built while in action.
French Bulldog is also "stacked" on an examination table to allow the judge
to examine or "go over" each dog with their hands. The judge looks at such
things as teeth and bite, muscularity of the dog, coat texture and length,
as well as looking for the proper size, proportion and structure in each
Learning to handle your own
dog well enough to show in the conformation ring is fun and can be very
rewarding. There are classes and/or personal trainers that will help you
get started. Alternatively, there are professional handlers who will exhibit
your dog for a fee. It can also be fun to watch your dog under the skillful
hands of someone who has years of experience and knows how to present your
dog in its best light. Either way, it's a thrill to hear your dog has won.
Dog Show Classes
Dog shows are a process of elimination
- you start the day out with about a thoussand to two thousand dogs , and
the last dog to win at the show is considered the best and is called the
Best In Show winner.
When the show starts, the competition
begins at the breed level - only dogs of the same breed compete against
each other. There are different regular classes in which dogs may be entered.
You would normally see the following classes in each breed, and they are
separated for for male and female dogs:
PUPPY - For six-to-nine
or nine-to-twelve months in age on the date of the show. Dogs under the
age of six months are not allowed to compete.
- For twelve-to-eighteen months of age on the date of the show.
NOVICE - Classes for
those dogs who have never won a blue ribbon in any of the other classes,
or has won less than three blue ribbons in the novice class.
BRED BY EXHIBITOR - The
person showing the dog is also the person who bred the dog.
AMERICAN-BRED - The dog
was born in America, and the mating that produced the litter was done in
OPEN - Class is open
to any dog of that breed.
Each of these classes is judged
separately, with all of the classes for the males (or "dogs") being judged
first. The assistant ringside (ring steward) will call for "Puppy Dog number
7," or "Puppy Bitch number 6" for example. At many shows, there will be
only one or two dogs in each class. When each class has been judges each
dog that won first place returns to the ring to compete again. From this
group the judges will pick the WINNERS DOG. After the dogs have
been judged, then the process is repeated for the female dogs ("bitches").
Only the one dog considered to be best male (WINNERS DOG) and the
one female considered to be best female (WINNERS BITCH) receive
championship points.After the judge has selected WINNERS DOG or
BITCH they will select the second ranking of the group -- this award
is know as RESERVE. Following judging for the dogs and bitches the
judge will then judge the BEST OF BREED CLASS. This class determines
the one single representative of the breed that will go on to compete further
that day. In the Best of Breed Class the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch
also compete with the champions for the title of Best of Breed.
In the Best of Breed Competition,
three awards are given - Best of Winners, Best of Opposite
and Best of Breed
BEST OF WINNERS - the dog
that the judge considers the best of the two class winners: Winners Dog
and Winners Bitch.
BEST OF OPPOSITE SEX - the
best representative of the breed that is the opposite sex of the Best of
BEST OF BREED - the single
dog judged as the best representative of the breed that day.
Groups and Group Competition
The only dog that continues
to represent the breed after breed competition is the winner of the Best
of Breed award. The Best of Breed winner goes on to compete at the
Each AKC-recognized breed falls
into one of seven group classifications. While four placements are awarded
in each group (Group I, Group II, Group III, and Group IV), only the first
place winner will advance to compete in the Best In Show competition.
THE SEVEN GROUPS IN AKC ALL-BREED
SHOWS (a full up to date listings of the breeds in each group may be found
on the AKC Web Site):
SPORTING - Dogs that
were bred to hunt birds both on land and in the water. The breeds in this
group include the Pointers, Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels
HOUNDS - Dogs that were
bred for hunting other game, either by sight (sighthounds or gazehounds)
or by scent. These breeds include such dogs as Afghans, Beagles, Bassets,
Dachshunds and Greyhounds.
WORKING - Dogs that had
specific jobs. Some were used to pull carts, or to guard property, for
swimming, or for tracking. Among the breeds in this group are the Akita,
the Boxer, the Doberman Pinscher and the St. Bernard. Also included in
this group are the flock protector breeds, such as the Great Pyrennes and
TERRIER - This group
includes the largest number of breeds, mostly designed to hunt and kill
small to medium-sized vermin such as rats and badgers. The breeds including
the Airedale, the Bull Terrier, the Cairn, the Scottish Terrier and the
West Highland White Terrier.
TOY - These dogs were
bred to be companions, often companions of royalty. This group includes
the Maltese and other little dogs such as the Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Pug
and Yorkshire Terrier.
NON-SPORTING - These
dogs share attributes but don't fit into the mold of the other AKC dog
groups. So, this diverse group includes the Chow Chow, Bulldog, Dalmatian
Tibetan Terrier and Poodle.
HERDING - These dogs
were bred to help shepherds and ranchers herd or "drive" their livestock.
Among this group are the Briard, Collie, German Shepherd Dog and Old English
Finally, at the final level
of competition at a dog show, the seven group winners return to the
ring where they compete for BEST IN SHOW, the highest award at a
dog show. The single dog is judged the dog most perfect on that day by
the panel of judges.<Back to top>
and AKC Championships
While Best in Show is the ultimate
goal of every competitor, there are other reasons that dogs are shown at
dog shows. Most dogs in competition at conformation shows are competing
for points toward their championship. To become a champion (often denoted
with a Ch. before the dog's name) takes fifteen points won at
licensed dog shows.
Of these fifteen, there must be two major wins of 3, 4 or 5 points. Those
two majors must be under different judges and at least three different
judges must award the dog points before it can become an AKC "Champion
of Record." Of the 15 points, two wins must be what are called “majors”,
which means there are enough dogs present to award at least 3 points.
For a more detailed explanation see: www.akc.org/dic/events/point.cfm.
At one show, a dog may only
earn from one to five points towards a champion title. So, no dog can become
a champion in less than three shows. The number of points awarded varies
from show to show, depending on the number of male or female dogs actually
in competition for the breed.
Ribbons at AKC Shows
Each dog that wins or places in
their class is given a ribbon by the judge. The color of the ribbon will
tell you the type of award the dog has won.
Blue Ribbon - awarded
for first place in any regular class (puppy, Bred-by, open, etc). A blue
rosette is also awarded for the winner of each group competition, as in
a "Group I".
Red Ribbon - awarded
for second place any regular class. A red rosette is also awarded to the
second place winner in each group competition (Group II).
Yellow Ribbon - awarded
for third place in any regular class. A yellow rosette is also awarded
to the third place winner in each group competition (Group III).
White - awarded for fourth
place in any regular class. A white rosette is also awarded to the fourth
place winner in each group competition (Group IV).
Purple Ribbon - one only
awarded to each winner of the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch classes. Since
these are the only classes that award points towards a championship, they
are very important.
Purple and White Ribbon
- one only awarded to each of the the Reseerve Winners, that is, the runners-up
in the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch classes.
Blue and White Ribbon
- one only awarded to the dog or bitch whiich is named Best of Winners,
that is the better of the two dogs from the classes: Winners Dog and Winners
Purple and Gold Ribbon
- one only awarded in each breed to the doog considered "Best of Breed"
in each breed. This is indicates that the dog with the Purple and Gold
ribbon is the best of it's breed on that day, and will represent the breed
in the Group competition.
Red and White Ribbon
- one only awarded in each breed to the doog considered "Best of Opposite
Sex" in each breed. This award is given to the best dog in the breed that
is the opposite sex of the Best of Breed winner.
Red, White and Blue Ribbon
- only one of these is awarded at the end of each show. It goes to the
very last winner at a show, the dog judged to be Best in Show.<Back
Tips If You
Are Going To Watch A Show
Buy a show catalog, usually
sold at a special table near the entrance to the show. Look for a table
marked "Catalogs" or ask at the Superintendents table. This will tell you
in which ring and at what time each breed is being judged. It also provides
you with information on the owners of the dogs being shown. If you know
ahead of time which superintendent is judging the show, you may be able
to find the judging schedule on their home page (see list of show superintendents
Dog shows are busy, noisy and
crowded, and people can easily become separated. Pick out in advance a
time and place in case anyone gets lost. The Superintendent's booth is
a good choice. Be sure if you have short children or adults that you pick
a place they can find easily from the floor, or by standing on a chair.
If you are interested in a particular
breed, plan to arrive early. Once each breed has been judged, those dogs
that did not win are allowed to leave. If you arrive late in the day, you
will miss seeing them. Many dog shows are totally over by 3 or 4 pm. Most
start at 8 or 9 am. If you do miss the breed judging, you can still (hopefully,
if you're not too late) see the judging of the seven groups. The group
your breed is in will probably include the Best of Breed winner of your
favorite breed. Again, the catalog will have information on the other dogs
of the breed that were entered that day.
If you wish to speak with the
breeder's/exhibitors of a particular breed it is best to wait and talk
with them after they have completed showing. The time before they go in
the ring is usually busy and if you wish their full attention its best
If you are thinking about getting
a specific pure-bred dog, talk to the breeders and handlers who have them
- they are experts in their breeds and cann tell you all you want to know
about their breeds. It is always best to approach people at shows after
they have shown their dog, when they are not too busy to talk. You might
even ask where they are set up for grooming dogs, and talk to them there
after they show and take care of their dogs.
NEVER NEVER EVER pet
or touch any dog without asking for permission first. The dog may have
just been groomed in preparation for being judged, and like people, some
dogs may be nervous about going into the show ring. ALWAYS ask for permission
before touching anyone's dog.
Many dog shows will have dog-item
vendors with unusual and practical dog items for sale. Most will take a
local check or credit card. Food at dog shows will depend on the location
- if you know what is normally served at tthe fairgrounds, that's probably
what you can get (and how much you'll pay) at the dog show.
Wear comfortable shoes as you
will be doing a lot of walking and standing. You may notice many people
exhibiting their dogs in comfortable tennis shoes! Unless you bring a chair
or arrive early, be prepared to stand to be able to see, as seating usually
If you bring a young child and
stroller to a show, please be extremely careful around the dogs. It happens
too frequently that someone runs over a dog's tail, or a child reaches
to grab or poke the dogs within reach.
Avoid the entrance to the rings,
as they get very very congested when the classes change. If you spot someone
you would like to speak to, try to keep an eye on them from a distance
so that you don' t get into the way. Many handlers show more than one dog
in a breed, and they change dogs just outside the ring entrances between
classes.<Back to Top>
AKC - American Kennel Club.
Angulation - Angles formed
where the bones of a dog meet at the joints.
Bait - Some sort of treat
or goodie that is used to keep a dog's attention on the person showing
him. Most often used are liver, meatroll slices, hot dogs and small dog
Baiting - Using liver
or some treat to get the dog's attention and have him look alert.
Bite - The relative position
of the upper and lower teeth as seen when the mouth of the dog is closed.
Breeder - Any person
who breeds dogs. Also, as defined by the AKC, the breeder of a dog is the
owner of the dam of the dog when the dam was bred.
Exhibitor - The person
who brings their dog to a show and enters it in the appropriate class.
Fancier - One who is
especially interested and usually active in some phase of the sport of
Gait - The way a dog
moves - indicating structure and condition of a dog.
Groom - To brush, comb,
trim or otherwise make a dog's coat neat and proper as stated in the written
Standard of the breed.
Handler - A person or
agent of the owner who takes a dog into the show ring or works the dog
at a field trial or other performance event for the owner. There are many
professional handlers who show dogs at shows.
Junior Showmanship -
Classes where the judge awards placements based upon the ability of the
handler of the dog. The handlers are between the ages of ten and eighteen
years of age.
Match - A relaxed, informal
show at which no championship points are awarded but the dogs get the practice
of real ring and show conditions.
Parent Club - the national
club for the breed (for Maltese this is the American Maltese Association)
that represents it to the AKC. Listing of parent clubs may be found on
the AKC web page.
Points - Credits earned
towards championship status.
Stacking - The process
of posing the dog's legs and body to create a pleasing profile.
Winners - An award given
at dog shows to the best dog (Winners Dog) and best bitch (Winners Bitch)
competing in the regular classes of each breed. <Back
How Can I Find
Dog Shows In My Area
There are several ways to find
listings of the local shows.
Dog Show Superintendents
Show Superintendents (or "supers")
are the people who conduct the business end of the shows: they take the
entries, set up the rings, assign the judging times, print the catalogs,
etc. They are a fountain of knowledge for dog show enthusiasts and they
will send out information regarding upcoming shows that they are handling.
You can write to the supers (or call them) and ask to be placed onto their
Several of the Superintendents
are On The Web. You can visit their sites to find to location of upcoming
shows in your area.
William G. Antypas, P.O. Box 7131,
Pasadena, CA 91109
Telephone- 818-796-3869 fax
Jack Bradshaw, P.O. Box 7303,
Los Angeles, CA 90022
Telephone- 213-727-0136 FAX
Margery M. Brown, 2242 London
Ave., Redding, CA 96001
Norman E. Brown, P.O. Box 2566,
Spokane, WA 99220
Telephone- 509-924-1089 FAX
Helen M. Houser, P.O. Box 420,
Quakertown, PA 18951
Ace H. Mathews , P.O. Box 86130,
Portland, OR 97286
MBF(Thomas Crowe), P.O. Box
22107, Greensboro, NC 27420
- or -
P.O. Box 9999, Madison Heights,
Telephone- 313-588-5000 FAX
Eileen McNulty, 1745 Route 78,
Java Center, NY 01482
Jack Onofrio, P.O. Box 25764,
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
Bob Peters, P.O. Box 579, Wake
Forest, NC 27588
Telephone- 919-556-9516 FAX
Robert A. Reed,177 Telegraph
Rd., Ste 405, Bellingham, WA 98226
Lewis Roberts, P.O. Box 4658,
Federal Way, WA 98023
Kevin B. Rogers, P.O. Box 203,
Hattiesburg, MS 39403
Elaine Saldivar, 4343 1/2 Burns
Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90020
Kenneth A. Sleeper, P.O. Box
828, Auburn, IN 46706
Nancy Wilson, 8309 E. Camelback
Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Kathleen Zimmerman, P.O. Box
6898, Reading, PA 19610