Dog shows, breed shows or conformation shows are competitions where the judges examine dogs of a specific breed or sometimes dogs of all breeds, to see whether they meet the breed standards or not. Kennel clubs and breed clubs conduct these shows. There are shows where only specific breeds are examined. They are known as specialty shows.
The standards are set prior to the show by organizations such as the American Kennel Club, and agreed upon by the judges of the show. During the show, they choose dogs, which match the set standards. This task is extremely difficult because the judgments made should be completely subjective.
Not only is one dog compared with another, but each dog must be compared to the judge’s image of an ideal dog for that breed standard. The objective of each dog show is to select a winner dog, which matches the breed standards.
The breed standard items are jotted down in a long list. Each one is referred to as a confirmation point. All the judges get together and agree on the conformation points before the show.
Conformation points can vary from one competition to another, but there are certain requirements that are general. The fur is the most important factor. The pet’s color, pattern, length, type, and quality are observed carefully. The distribution, quality, and quantity of the markings are observed.
Healthy skin with no pigmentation is also one of the important criteria. The shape and color of the head is also taken into consideration. The general attitude and temperament are noted down for each breed of dogs. The jaw-line and the structure of the teeth and how they align when the jaw is closed are compared.
The shape and color of the eyes and shape and set of the ears are observed. The sizes and the ratio of the length and height are also compared. The style of walking and gait is compared. The shape of the tail and feet are closely observed. The dogs which enter such competition, should be well-groomed. Some even check for skin wrinkles and measure the flaws.
The name of each participating dog is registered. Every dog’s name is attached to the breeder’s kennel name. Every dog can have a registered name as well as a call name. The kennel club uses the registered name and the owner uses the call name to refer to the pet.
There are many dog shows conducted on various levels. There are local shows and national shows, which attract competitors from different parts of the country. Usually, dog shows are hierarchical competitions. The winners earn certain points in each show and each level, which makes them eligible for the next show. And the dog which wins shows that are at the highest level is declared as a champion. ‘Ch.’, for example, Ch. Tony, appends the dog’s name. Such shows are very prestigious among breeders and show aficionados.
At the pinnacle are the shows that only allow dogs that have already won championships in other shows. These shows aim to choose the best in the breed. Such shows make the reputation of the dog, breeder, and kennel higher. The price of the puppies of that particular dog can be astoundingly high. This is because other people want to have a pet which resembles the champion. The popularity of the breed increases rapidly. There are two such prestigious shows, The Crufts in the United Kingdom and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in the United States.