In conformation showing, the judge compares your dog (and the others in the class) to a written standard for each breed describes the appearance of a dog built to perform well at the job it was bred to do. Judges make their choices according to their understanding and interpretation of these standards.
Dogs are assessed both standing and on the move, and compete first within their own breed. The breed winners go on to the group (breeds are loosely classified according to their purpose, gun dogs in one group, herding dogs in another, and so on), and at the end of the day the seven group winners vie for Best in Show honours. Best Puppy awards are also offered at breed, group and show level.
You may be familiar with these shows already – or have seen the Westminister Dog Show (or the British version – Crufts) on television.
A CAPDT member-trainer can help to prepare your purebred pooch for the show ring. To begin learning about conformation showing, we recommend taking the following steps:
- Make sure your dog has excellent foundation manners. Take a course with one of CAPDT’s trainers to make sure your dog has a great recall, stands well for examination, is crate trained, has a good long down-stay (for resting between rounds) and knows their release cues. These are among the very first foundation skills.
- Talk to your breeder about showing. They may have a handler who can take your dog into the ring for a fee. Like most dog sports, there are beginner/hobby levels and advanced competitive levels. Think about your time, energy and finances and consider what a realistic goal is for you and your dog.
- Remember that your purebred dog must be intact (not spayed or neutered) to participate in these classes. That is because conformation dogs are also being assessed for their ability to produce awesome future generations!
- In Canada, formal conformation shows are held under the rules of the Canadian Kennel Club. Review the CKC’s Conformation Show Rules and Regulations and Conformation Show Rules & Regulations Amendment-Effective Immediately-March 2018. You will need your CKC papers from your breeder and may wish to consider taking a membership with the CKC as you progress.
- Our CAPDT trainers can help you learn what you need to compete. Trainers can provide help in ring craft and help your dog feel good about being groomed and prepared for the ring. Many trainers will offer help and support as you move ahead in your chosen discipline.
Happy ribbon hunting!