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Conformation

“Conformation” is the official name for “dog shows.” While they may seem glamorous, the true purpose of conformation showing is to evaluate breeding stock. The dog’s conformation—his overall appearance and structure—is an indication of the dog’s ability to produce quality purebred puppies, and that is what is being judged in the ring. That’s why mixed-breeds and spayed or neutered purebreds are not eligible to compete. Many times a new exhibitor will get started in dog shows by finding a mentor, usually the breeder they acquired their puppy from. Many AKC clubs also offer handling classes to teach owners how to present their purebred dog to a judge at a dog show.

What is the purpose of dog shows?

For each breed the AKC registers, there is a breed standard which is a word description of the perfect dog of that breed. Standards describe the mental and physical characteristics that allow each breed to perform the function for which they were originated. The standard describes the dog's looks, movement and temperament. Breeders involved with each breed are attempting to produce a dog that most closely conforms to the breed standard. In this respect, dog shows are not unlike cat shows, bird shows, cattle shows, horse shows, etc. In fact, for almost every species bred by man there are competitions among breeders. AKC approved judges examine the dogs and place them in accordance to how close each dog compares with their mental image of the "perfect" dog as described in the breed's official standard.

Join the World of AKC Dog Shows!

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE

Any dog registered with the American Kennel Club that is 6 months or older on the day of the show and of a breed for which classes are offered in the premium list is eligible to be entered at a dog show.
Remember: Spayed or neutered dogs are not eligible to compete in conformation classes at a dog show, nor are dogs with disqualifying faults as per their breed's standard.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

You can also use the AKC's online Club Search to find out about any dog clubs in your area. Local clubs host dog events and typically offer guidance and resources for interested dog owners. Many offer weekly classes in dog training and handling and can provide information about a variety of dog sports.

LEARNING TO SHOW YOUR DOG

While visiting the show, inquire at the club table or club tent about breed handling or conformation handling (showing a dog in the show ring). Classes are sponsored by the club. The classes are usually held on weeknights and will teach you the basics of handling your dog. It would also be to your benefit to ask how you may go about joining the club as you are new to the sport and would like to get involved. A list of clubs nationwide is available from the AKC. Dog clubs are involved in many activities besides putting on a dog show and they all welcome new members who want to lend a hand. You'll meet new people and share their knowledge and experiences. The club may also have information about match shows in your area. These are fun shows that are used for practice and training of both dogs and novice exhibitors. While these shows award no points toward an AKC title, they are a great place to "get your feet wet" before entering a real show.

So now you're on your way. You are entering a sport that will bring many hours of enjoyment and education to every member of your family. You will make many friends in the sport, and will enjoy your dog and your new hobby to the fullest extent. Good luck!

For more detailed information and FAQ please visit: http://www.akc.org/events/conformation-dog-shows/

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