3. how does a dog show work?
Wednesday, April 7, 2021 9:57 AM                


How are the classes judged?

In each breed, all the dogs (males) are judged first, proceeding through the classes:

  • Minor Puppy (6 – 9 months)
  • Puppy (9 – 12 months)
  • Junior (12 – 18 months)
  • Graduate (18 – 24 months)
  • SA Bred (bred in South Africa )
  • Veteran (7+ years)
  • Open (any age)

You will probably start by working your dog through the age groups as specified, but you can put your dog straight into Open Class if you wish, though you may find the competition quite tough. (See the back of the official entry form for more details on entering classes.)

Occasionally there may also be classes for:

  • Maiden (dogs that have not won any prizes at a Championship show)
  • Novice ( dogs that have not won a first prize at a Championship show)
  • Working (minimum qualifications: Class A, CD, IPO 1, or BWT)

In each class a winner is chosen, which will be called back at this point to compete for the Championship Certificate (CC). All second-placed dogs in the classes should stand by because as soon as the CC dog has been selected, the dog that stood second to it must enter the ring at this point to compete along with all the others for the Reserve Championship Certificate (RCC).

After the Best Champion is chosen the process begins all over again with bitches (females).

How is Best of Breed judged?

In the next stage of breed judging, the CC and Champion dog and the CC and Champion bitch go into the ring to compete for Best of Breed (BOB). When BOB has been awarded, the second placed dog or bitch in the winner's class must enter the ring to compete with the others for Reserve Best of Breed (RBOB). So, for example, if the Champion dog wins BOB, the second-placed Champion dog must go in to compete with the others for RBOB. If there was no other dog/bitch in the winner's class, there is no call-back.

Thereafter, all puppies compete for Best Puppy, and if offered, the juniors compete for Best Junior, veterans for Best Veteran, and Reserve Best of Breeds for the MiniGrand.

How is the Group judged?

The Puppy Group is usually judged first. All Breed Puppy winners enter the ring for the Puppy Group judging and the judge will place four puppies. If Junior, Veteran or MiniGrand stakes are offered, these will be judged next in the same way.

Finally, the Group will be judged with all Best of Breed winners competing for the four top positions. After reviewing each dog briefly again, the judge may pull out a shortlist and those not making the cut will be thanked and should leave the ring. Most judges like the Ring Steward to announce the four Group places in reverse order, but it is just as normal for the judge to announce or hand over the winning rosette directly to the group winner and the runners-up thereafter.

How is Best in Show judged?

This is the highlight of the day's showing – the Final Stakes. In the same order that the Group Finals were judged, the Puppy Stakes will be judged first, followed by Junior, Veteran or MiniGrand Stakes (if offered), and finally, Best in Show. These stakes will be judged by one or more senior judge(s) who have reached a certain level of experience and may or may not already have judged one or more Groups during the day, but this does not necessarily mean that the dog sent through by this judge will win his/her favour to the top spot, so every handler gives this last attempt everything they have. Each of the seven dogs in the main ring are, by virtue of their success thus far, worthy winners and the thrill of winning Best in Show is unmeasurable bliss!

What is a Variety Challenge?

Sometimes a show offers novelty challenges. A challenge is a kind of  "free-for-all" competition, where, either free or for a small fee, any breed of dog can be entered according to a criterion other than its breed classification. So, for instance, you could have a Novice Challenge (for dogs that have never won a first prize at a Championship show), a Brace Challenge (for two dogs of a breed, similar in appearance, and exhibited together), a Members' Challenge (for members of the show-holding club), or a Progeny Challenge (sire or dam and a number of progeny). At Specialty Shows, it's also common to encounter challenges such as “Best Head”, “Best Mover”, “Best Coat” and so on.

© Joy McFarlane : SHOWDOGS

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