It’s wonderful to watch the big dog shows. These days a lot of them are on television. The best part is to see all of the different breeds. If you are not a dog enthusiast, there are always new dog breeds that you have never seen before. As the competition unfolds, I always start rooting for a few favorite dogs. Sometimes it is mystifying how the judges decide between all of the gorgeous dogs in each group. So, which dog show am I watching? What are the Olympics for dogs? It would be nice to know how they are organized, so it would be easier to follow our adorable animal friends throughout these competitions.
Dog shows are held all over the world, and are known as conformation shows. There are also many other competitions such as agility, obedience, hunting, tracking, and others. In conformation shows, individual dogs are judged on how well they represent their breed and therefore their ability to carry on the quality of the breed to future generations. Each dog is judged against its Breed Standard, which is a detailed description of the perfect dog of each breed. If a dog deviates from the Breed Standard in any way, it will receive an infraction or the judge will take away points. Only purebred dogs are allowed in these competitions.
There are countless dog shows each year; some big and some small. Some shows are limited to a single breed. At the larger shows, the various breeds are divided into 7 groups: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, and herding. In the UK, these groups are called gundog, hound, working, terrier, toy, utility, and pastoral. For example, a golden retriever is a member of the sporting group in America or the gundog group in the UK. Typically a Best in Group winner will be chosen out of each group. Then the last 7 dogs will compete in the final show ring for Best in Show.
The largest shows, often on TV, are all-breed shows. These shows have representatives from every breed recognized by the national kennel club. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes over 150 breeds and varieties of dogs. The poodle, for example, has 3 varieties: Miniature, Toy and Standard. In the UK most shows are governed by the Kennel Club (KC), while the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) is the governing body for dog breeds in Australia. Different kennel clubs have different rules and may recognize different breeds. Differences between the AKC and KC Breed Standards are the reason that American golden retrievers and British golden retrievers are slightly dissimilar.
What is the Super Bowl or The World Cup of dog shows? In the US, this event is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Each year it is held in New York at Madison Square Garden. The first event was in 1877. Only Champion dogs can compete at Westminster. In order to become a Champion, a dog must score at least 15 points in AKC competitions, including 2 major wins. Champion status is permanent and a ‘Ch.’ is listed in front of the dog’s name. Another major event in the US is the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. The 2011 event will be held in Orlando, Florida on December 17 and 18. Past events have been in Long Beach, CA and Tampa, Florida. Certain winners at AKC/Eukanuba qualify for Crufts.
The largest dog show in the world is Crufts held annually in Birmingham, England. It is a 4 day event held at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre). Over 22,000 dogs from all over the world participated in 2008. In 2011, Crufts will take place March 10-13. Winners from major shows all over the world qualify to compete at Crufts. For example, winners from FCI Asian International Championship Show 2010 at Tokyo have qualified for this year’s event.
The World Dog Show is another major annual event. Instead of the AKC or KC, this event is governed by the Federation Cynologique Internationale. The FCI was originally founded by France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria in 1911. Today, the FCI has over 80 member countries. Breeds are divided into 10 groups instead of 7. The 2011 World Dog Show will be held in Paris, France July 7-10. This event may be held in any of the member countries all over the world.