Dog Shows & Putting On “The Dog”

Golden with owner

Have you and your dog ever competed in a dog show? It’s some of the most fun you can have with your canine companion, and isn’t a new activity by any means.

The earliest record of a dog show dates to June 1859 in England, with only 60 hunting dogs (Pointers and Setters) shown. Today the sport of dogs has grown to include more than 200 separate breeds, and expanded beyond pedigree-only dogs to embrace mutts in a variety of shaggy competitions.


I am NOT an expert in purebred dogs or the show fancy. In fact my Magical-Dawg isn’t the right “type” to do well in conformation, although he has the drive and talent to be extraordinary in tracking or other performance sports. It’s not him–it’s me. It takes lots of time and energy and I just can’t manage that right now. If I look the other way and Magic swipes the keys to the Magic-Mobile, no doubt he’ll be heading off to a show of his choice.

clumber spaniel

This gorgeous fellow was one of the first Clumber spaniels shown at Westminster!

A group match features all the breeds that belong to a general “type” of dog–say, the Toy group, which includes the Chihuahua, Pug, Pekingese, Yorkshire terrier and Toy poodle (to name only a few). The American Kennel Club (AKC) divides the groups by function and purpose for which the dogs were bred, or by size.

Sporting Group consists of Labs, Setters, Spaniels, pointers, retrievers; Hounds includes Greyhounds, beagles, foxhounds, etc; Working group includes the sled dogs, draft dogs, Doberman, etc.; Terriers consists of nearly any breed with ‘terrier’ in the name; Toys are by size–the little guys; Non-sporting includes Chow chow, Dalmation, Bichon, Lhasa Apso, etc.; Herding are all the shepherds, sheepdogs, cattle dogs, etc; and the Miscellaneous Class is an odd catchall category for dogs that don’t fit in any of the others. A terrific book to find out more is Cheryl Smith’s The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Dog Shows . . . I believe she’ll soon bring it back into print.


Is your pooch a show-stopper? There are lots of summertime dog-centric events that you and your dog may enjoy. For instance, this Saturday September 8 can compete and win prizes locally at a fun Bark and Paw Dog Show in Denison, Texas. For the second annual event, Downtown Denison’s Bark & Paw show has certain requirements and “groups” –but your pooch does NOT have to be a purebred.

Register your dogs for free—and then sign up for a variety of contests for $1 each at Heritage Park beginning at 9:00 for the day’s events that run from 10 am to 4 pm. All dogs must be up to date on rabies vaccines and stay on leash for the event (except for specific off-leash contests). Anyone can purchase $1 tickets for fun door prizes, too.

I’m one of the judges—but I don’t know which contest yet. It promises to be a dog-gone fun event! Weinie Dog Races leads off at 10 a.m. followed by a retriever contest, most obedient, best trick, and even contests for the biggest, littlest, ugliest, oldest, and one that traveled farthest.

Don’t miss the 11:00 Pet Parade that travels from Forest Park to Heritage Park with Parade Grand Marshal Luke Robinson, founder of 2 Million Dogs and the Puppy Up walks for dog cancer research ( The theme is patriotic so owners can “put on the dog” with matching costumes.

Off leash events are at Forest Park while vendors are located on Burnett next to Heritage Park. You’ll find chair massage, pet massage, veterinarian, groomers, trainers, pet adoption, tee shirts, dog bandanas and munchies for both four-legged and two-legged attendees. You’ll even have the opportunity to drool over and then bid on some awesome custom doghouses at 12:30.

Have you ever participated in a doggy “fun show” event? How’d that work out? Do you dress up your dogs for parades, Halloween, or other holiday events? Do tell!

Remember that all dogs are winners when they have someone to love them. Be sure your dog enjoys events where other dogs and people are present, because some pooches prefer to be home-bodies. Please be especially mindful of the weather and keep your hot dogs safe as cool companions. If your dog loves the spotlight, you’ll all have a howling good time.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!


Dog Shows & Putting On “The Dog” — 9 Comments

  1. Nice post, Amy. I’ve shown in conformation as well as other sports. All fun. I’ve judged AKC matches (herding, sporting, working, and Best in Match), and am an ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America) conformation breeder judge (no, I don’t judge breeders – I bred Aussies and now judge them!).

    I’d like to add one little thing – the AKC still requires that dogs in conformation be intact (not altered, i.e., spayed or neutered). A few non-AKC registries, including ASCA, have conformation programs for altered dogs. The quality of dogs in altered is every bit as good as in the “regular” ring, and let’s face it, not everyone wants to breed, or own a stud dog, let alone live with an intact bitch. Definitely an idea whose time has come!

    Showing in conformation is a lot like writing professionally – gotta do it for love, accept criticism/losses with grace, and appreciate the wins when they come!

    • Hi Sheila, I didn’t realize you were a judge for all of that, too! Fun stuff. And yes, thanks for pointing out the “intact” part of conformation, I neglected to include that aspect.

      Interestingly, in cat shows, the “championship” contests also are for intact-only cats. But then the neutered/spayed kitties CAN compete in the “premiership” division and get another championship after they’re fixed. *s*

  2. I’m glad you brought up cat shows. I believe that the cat show associations promote good cat care by allowing and even encouraging the showing of neutered cats. They also help get people interested in the fancy by bringing Household Pets (mixed breed cats and cats that are ineligible for Championship classes) into the mix. And of course, don’t forget feline agility! It’s all so much fun. I’ve shown HHPs, pedigreed kittens, championship cats and premiers as well as feline agility.

    • Hi Andrea, I need to do a similar post in the future on cat shows. I love the HHP division, too. If Seren wasn’t such a kitty-brat she’d be a show-stopper. Of course, I’m prejudice. *s*

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