Tips on Visiting a Dog Show

The Indy Winter Classic is upon us at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. If you are looking for an indoor activity for a gloomy day, come by and see us . Look for the orange flatcoat sign. I have posted some tips on what happens at shows.

Tips  on visiting a dog show

Terms to know:

  1. Dogs- refers to males
  2. Bitches- No, it is not considered a dirty word in the dog world, but commonly referred to as a female dog
  3. Puppy-refers to all dogs/bitches under the age of 12 months and often divided into age groups 6-9 and 9-12 depending on the size of the show
  4. Veteran-term given to an older dog usually 7 or older
  5. Specials- refers to a dog who has already finished his/her championship
  6. Handler-the person on the end of the leash-can be an owner, breeder or professional
  7. Class dog-refers to any non-champion dog entered in the regular classes
  8. Gaiting-refers to the dog trotting around the ring
  9. Stacking-refers to the dog standing posed in the ring.

10.  Non-regular classes- any additional classes offered by a particular breed  club(examples could include working dogs, or veterans)

11.  the groups- divided into 7 different areas: sporting, herding, working, terrier, hounds, toys, and non-sporting

Reading the program

All breeds are first  viewed  in alphabetical order with the number of dogs entered as shown below:

Retrievers(flatcoated)  9-17-4-4-0

This means 9 class dogs, 17 class bitches, 4 specials male and 4 specials bitches and no non-regular classes

Next you will see them listed as to the time and ring number

Example :

Ring 2


34 retrievers flatcoated

14 pointers(GSP)

3 retrievers (NSDR)

This means  ring 2 at 8 am  begins with flatcoated retrievers followed by german short haired pointers and nova scotia duck tolling retrievers. They usually estimate 2 minutes per dog . You could expect the pointers to enter the ring a little after 9:00 if all the flatcoats show up!

The Classes in Conformation

The classes always start with the puppy dogs, followed by the adult class dogs , puppy bitches, adult bitches, non regular classes and then the best of breed class

1.Puppy classes: 6-9 months, 9-12 months, 12-18 months

2. Adult classes

a. American bred

b. Bred-by-Exhibitor- the breeder must be the handler in this class

c.  Open- all other non champion adults

3. Best of Breed- all the winners in the classes PLUS all the champion dogs and bitches entered compete for  the best of breed .

The Awards

  1. winners dog/bitch-the first place dog in all the classes(including puppies )  competes for this title after all the individual male/female dog classes;wins points
  2. reserve winners dog/bitch-the runner up; no points unless the winner is disqualified for some reason
  3. best of breed- the overall winner of that breed who goes on to represent their breed in the “group”
  4. best of opposite sex- no trip to the group but basically the runner up of the opposite sex
  5. Group winners- The best of breed winner of each individual breed returns for the “group”. Each group awards placements from 1st-4th. The winner moves on to the final round, Best in Show
  6. Best in Show- The judge selects 1 winner, no runner ups for this prestigious award. It must be remembered that the dogs are not judged against each other but on how closely they resemble their breed in structure, movement and personality

Obedience and Rally

Unlike conformation, the dogs entered in Obedience or Rally may be spayed or neutered but must be handled by their owners in most classes.

The classes

  1. Novice- entry level which includes heeling, recalls, stand for examination and group stays
  2. Open-includes off leash heeling, jumping, retrieving and out  of sight stays
  3. Utility- includes hand signal at distance, with heeling and jumping and scent discrimination
  4. Rally- several levels of competition but involves following sign with exercises to be done at each station.

There are other events available for you to do with your dogs including agility, flyball, hunting tests, weight pulling, and herding trials! If interested in these events, please view the akc website at

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