About Showing A Dog In

   AKC Conformation Events

  (Disclaimer: This page is designed to answer some of the many questions I get about showing dogs. It is not complete and not designed to be the bottom line authority on showing a dog. It is simply designed to give an overview and answer some of the many basic questions people ask. Much of it is based on my own experience showing dogs. (I started in 1985.)

Terms defined

      Dog Show: A coming together of a lot of dogs with people all bent on taking home a blue and a purple, or red white and blue ribbon. These people frequently travel many miles, get up very early in the morning, spend hours grooming at the show and also before leaving home. The dog show scene is like a big country fair. It can be a lot of fun and a lot of work.

   The ones I attend are licensed by AKC but there are others

    Events at these shows sometimes include obedience, agility and junior showmanship. Go to  American Kennel Club Web Site for more info on these.

   Dogs eligible: to compete in AKC shows must be registered with AKC. For conformation they cannot be spayed or neutered.

       Judge: A person licensed by AKC to judge a particular breed of dog. The dog is judged against his own breed standard. Standard for the boxer is at the American Boxer Club Web Site.

    Handler: A person who shows someone's dogs in the show for money. This person usually does not own or have bred the dog. The cost to hire this person can be high. Starting at $75 per dog per day.

    Owner Handler: The person who owns the dog and/or bred the dog and is not usually in the profession of handling other peoples dogs in the ring for money.

     Winning: On a good day for Trifecta we will win best male and/or female non champion. This win will give the dog or bitch (female variety of dog) points toward their championship. I usually handle my own dogs. In Boxer's an owner handled win, means you probably had to defeat several handlers who are professionals and who are being paid to handle someone else's dog. This is really a meaningful win to me personally.

      Championship: AKC gives a championship title to dogs who defeat a certain number of their own breed and sex and acquire 15 points. The number of points awarded depends on the size of the entry in that breed.

             A dog must win at two major shows as well as acquire the 15 points. A "major" 3,4 or 5 points is also dictated by the number of dogs entered in that show. For instance for a boxer male to get a three point major he must defeat 17 other male boxers. That figure is only for boxer males in division 8. Other parts of the country may have different numbers. He must do this at least twice under two different judges. And, acquire a total of 15 points including the points accumulated in his major wins called "majors"

       Before competing in the Winners class for Best Dog or Winners Dog WD or Best Bitch or Winners Bitch WB, the dogs must defeat others in their particular sex & class. Such as, Puppy 6-9, Puppy 9-12, 12-18, Novice, Bred By Exhibitor, American Bred, Open Brindle or Open Fawn.


        Best of Breed: Only champion boxers and the winners of the class dogs and bitch's compete for Best of Breed in boxers.

        Group Placement: After winning their respective breeds dogs go on to compete in their own group category as defined by the American Kennel Club.

            The Seven Groups Are:



       Best In Show: The winner of each of the groups above goes on to compete for Best In Show. A small show can have a total entry of 1000 dogs a medium size show 1500 and a large show up to 4500. This is all breeds. For the west coast a large showing in boxers is around 100. At the ABC National the entry is around 500 to 700.  

For even more details go to AKC Event Links              

On the main menu there is information about everything to do with all AKC events, registrations etc.

                              My Comments:

 People often ask me, why we do this showing thing. To the almost always first question "no" there is rarely money involved in winning.

     "No" the prizes are not usually that wonderful. Nice but certainly not the reason we compete. (For Most of Us.)

      Championship (Ch) is the title the dog gets to put on the front of his registered name when he completes the required wins. What does this mean. It means the owner and dog had enough stamina to go through the process and that he is a worthy representative of his breed. Does this compute into money? It can in breeding. Occasionally if one has a nice male people will pay for his services as a stud dog. However in order to receive money for his services we have to do health tests. We have to deal with bitch's belonging to other people who are in season.  We have to deal with contracts. Most of us feel responsible for every puppy we help put on this earth.  An accountant would not consider it a good investment. Without fail we don't make money selling puppies. Do we operate in the black NEVER.

      For me I like doing things with my dogs. I am a trainer and I like training them for the show ring. I used to do a lot of obedience competition. I think that can be more rewarding. Injuries, however, have benched me from obedience competition.

      Because I handle most of my own dogs. (Meaning I show them in the ring myself) The road to a championship is usually long and grueling. Some people hire a professional to handle their dogs for them in competition. Beating someone who makes their living at showing dogs takes skill, dedication and perseverance. It doesn't happen too often.

     Some of the American Boxer Club Awards

Top Twenty: Boxers who, by virtue of the number of dogs they defeated in their own breed per year, are among the top twenty boxers in the USA.

Sire of Merit or SOM: A Male boxer who has produced seven boxers who have achieved their AKC championships.

Dam Of Merit or DOM: A bitch who has produced four boxers who have achieved their AKC championships.

Legion Of Merit or LOM: A boxer who has produced a certain number of DOM's or SOM,s.


 It is probably the most important thing about getting into showing a dog. Find a reputable breeder that is willing to help you get started. Teach you how to show your own dog, about grooming, and other aspects of showing.

  Go to shows and ask questions about what is going on. Be sure the person you are talking to has time to talk to you. Often times those standing at ringside are waiting to go in the ring or concentrating on what is happening. This isn't the best time to talk to them so it is just best to ask.

  Get a copy of the rules for the kind of events you want to do. READ it carefully.

   I started out doing obedience with my boxers. This is a lot of fun but also a lot of work. It takes a great deal of dedication to get an obedience title on a boxer. The dog only has to be AKC registered. (see rules applying to dog shows.) In other words it doesn't have to be a stunning show prospect. Dogs in obedience,rally and agility, for instance, can be spayed or neutered. They do not have to have cropped ears. Performance events are a little less subjective in judging than conformation.

    Conformation is about one persons opinion (the judges) of the best dog on that particular day. Often judges will like a dog one day and like a different one better the next.Different judges like different types of dogs. Sometimes judges look beyond the dog to other factors; like who is handling the dog. They are supposed to judge according to the standard of that dogs breed. Since the boxer standard (AKC) says the ears must stand upright. Recently the standard was changed and dogs who are not cropped can be shown. To win they must be very very nice.

    The standard for boxers is written by the parent club. Our parent club is The American Boxer Club. The club submits the standard to AKC for its approval.

    Unwritten rules and behaviors. This is where your breeder/mentor can help a great deal. There are certain dress codes, etiquette etc. For example (and this applies to the boxer ring) you will see men wearing suits and women in dresses or nice pants outfits. You will almost never see jeans. If you do see someone in jeans they are either very new exhibitors or something went seriously wrong in the wardrobe department.


    If you are committed to showing a dog then get educated about the breed standard, ask lots and lots of questions and find someone knowledgeable to help you.

     General rules and observations.

        It is best when picking a show dog to try to be color blind. If you are serious about showing and then breeding try not to be drawn into what is winning and what is marked pretty. Most breeders are not into all of this showing and breeding thing for the money. So their best show prospects will stay with them or go to a show home with a track record (one of dedication to the breed and showing.) A novice is very very lucky when they are able to purchase a really high quality, beautifully marked show prospect.

   Below is a list of the criteria I used when I started.

 Structure, Health, Temperament, Color, Breeder, Pedigree

This is the list I recommend:

Breeder (Includes track record, length of time in breed, willingness to help, recommendations)

Health (overall health of parents and litter)

Temperament (of parents and get)

Pedigree (How and why the breeding was planned, dogs in the pedigree and their records as producers)

Structure (Most newcomers will need a lot of help and education in this area)

Color (Try not to get set on a specific color or even sex)

    MY first champion was a brindle male (Merlin). He was given to me as a replacement for a dog I purchased, who because of a physical fault, was not able to be shown in conformation. Merlin was handled by a professional handler and finished at the age of two and a half. My handling fees were $1400. This does not include entries, traveling etc. The dog who Merlin replaced was ultimately my top obedience competition dog (Jedi) and went on to two obedience titles shown and trained by me. To date I have finished or helped finish 10 of my own dogs. I purchased one other show prospect. Dusty never finished her championship but was the dam of my first two home bred champions. To date Trifecta has produced four home bred champions. My other four were given to me by breeders who new I would do everything possible to see the dog finished the championship.

The End or The Beginning

Quick Explantion of Dog Shows



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