Dog shows, more formally known as “conformation” shows, bring together dogs of the same breed to determine which most closely “conforms” to the breed standard. Shows give breeders and owners of purebred dogs a way to identify the best dogs to produce puppies with consistent characteristics of the breed.
Conformation shows may include all AKC-recognized breeds, or it may feature a single breed (a “specialty” show). The qualifications for a dog to enter a conformation show include: being a purebred registered with AKC, not being neutered or spayed, and being six months or older. When entering, the owner chooses from the classes offered – this is the first level of competition.
At the show, each sex is judged separately until the best male (“dog”) and best female (“bitch”) is determined. Judging starts with all dogs competing within their class, then it is a process of elimination until the best dog and the best bitch compete against each other for Best of Breed. In an all-breed show, winners go on to compete against others in their group (ex. Collies are members of the Herding Group), then group winners compete for Best in Show. To recognize outstanding representatives of each breed, winners receive points which can lead the dog to an AKC championship title.
For a more detailed overview of conformation shows, AKC has an online brochure: “A Beginner’s Guide to Dog Shows”.
The Overlake Collie Club annually sponsors Collie-only “Specialty” shows held in February. During the weekend shows, many of the best Collies in the state and beyond are brought to the Argus Ranch Dog Sports and Training Center in Auburn, WA.
Showing your dog requires a commitment to learn the rules and knowing how to prepare your dog for the event. The reward for your time and effort will be a closer relationship with your dog, meeting other owners and the fun of showing your dog to others at his best!