Conformation Showing

Remi wins a her first major at a dog show. Remi is a Dalmatian.

Show vs. Pet

The terms Show and pet quality puppies are used quite loosely by some people. If you are not sure if your dog is show potential, locate a copy of the breed standard and a breeder who can go over it with you. It helps to have the dog present while going over the standard and compare your dog to the standard.

If you are seriously thinking about getting involved in showing dogs, make sure you start with a good representation of the breed. This means reading a standard and several books about the breed. Make sure understand what is invoved in showing a dog and be honest with the breeder. Do not go to a breeder expecting to get their best dog and then not be willing to show it. Many show breeders spend alot of time producing dogs and do not want to let their top prospects go to pet homes just to be spayed and neutered. If a breeder tells you you have a show quality dog and lets you spay and neuter it, then you really did not have a show quality dog - you may have had a high quality pet.


How do I know, if my Dalmatian is show (breeding) quality?

  • The Dalmatian meets many or all the requirements of the breed standard

  • The Dalmatian was bought from a reputable show breeder.

  • If "show breeder", puppies are generally sold on full AKC registration and intended to be shown.

  • The Dalmatian is sold or given to new owner on contract that specifies dog is of show and breeding quality.

  • The Dalmatian has a pedigree with multiple titled AKC relatives. Has some traceable kennel names on pedigree

  • Breeder is usually the member of a national breed club, regional club, all-breed club or association. Or has been involved in one previously.

  • Breeder knows about conformation shows and can explain how they work. Has also titled or pointed dogs in their breed.

  •  All or some of the relatives have been checked for appropriate inheritible diseases.

How do I know, if my Dalmatian is pet (non-breeding) quality?

  • The Dalmatian has some undesireable faults or disqualifications according to the breed standard.

  • If "show" breeder, pet puppies are sold on a spay/neuter contract or limited AKC registration. BYB, Pet Shop/Puppymill puppies are rarely sold on a spay/neuter contract or limited AKC registration.

  • Unless bought from a "show" breeder, the breeder is not or has never been a member of any Kennel club or related type of organization or association.

  •  Generally, unless bought from a "show" breeder, the Dalmatian has as a pedigree with little or no titled AKC relatives. Has few or no traceable kennel names on pedigree.

  • The Dalmatian is bilaterally (both ears) deaf.

  • The Dalmatian is patched. If unsure, see colors page for more information.

  • The Dalmatian has a poor temperament.

  • The Dalmatian is not in the proper show condition.

  • The teeth (bite) is not correct according to the Dalmatian breed standard.

  • Many times, unless bought from a show breeder, no relatives have ever been checked for appropriate inheritible diseases
Just because a dog is not of show quality does not make it any less enjoyable or loveable as a companion animal. This table is only a guideline and should not be interpreted else. There are many "well-bred" pet dogs from reputable breeders. This is meant to help those people who do not know the difference.





Dog Shows; How they work - A Spectators Guide
By Robert L. Hooper - February 27, 1991

Over 2500 dog shows are held annually in the US, under the auspices of the AKC. There are two kinds of shows: specialty [a single breed or group of breeds] and all breed, repesenting about 1100 shows out of the total. Dog shows are held in all 50 states. An AKC licensed show is one in which Championship points are awarded.

I will discuss a typical all breed licensed show. Everything that appears here is the opinion of the author, and was not approved by the AKC, though based on AKC documents and the author's experience. The official document on dog shows is published by the AKC and is entitled Rules Applying to Registration and Dog Shows. Anyone interested in dog shows should request this pamphlet from the AKC.

The club putting on the show selects the judges and the time and place of the show, subject to AKC approval. The club is responsible for judges arrangements and travel [they may come from anywhere in the USA, or in some cases, from a foreign country.] The club also sets up and takes down the rings needed for judging, and associated impedimenta. A major dog show typically involves at least 60 people in addition to the judges [15-25, typically] and superintendentUs crew. This includes ring stewards, finance, catalog sales and admissions, grounds, parking control, clean up [very necessary], judges lunches, etc.

Normally, a club will contract with an AKC licensed Superintendent to deal with matters such as armbands, premium lists, catalogs and the myriad of
administrative details which are associated with a show. My purpose here is to describe the activities relating to showing dogs in the conformation rings. I have not chosen to describe obedience ring competition. Other important AKC activities are tracking tests, field trials and hunting tests. At an all breed dog show, which often includes an obedience trial, the numbers of dogs entered will normally range from 900 to well over 3000. Some dog shows require that any dog entered have at least a first place ribbon in prior competition, in order to enter. Any pure bred dog over 6 months which has an AKC registration number may enter if unaltered, subject to a number of considerations, including the dog's owner or breeder having been suspended by the AKC. Note that altered dogs may compete in Obedience Trials, as may dogs from the Miscellaneous class.

All dogs compete in the judging of the breed for which they are entered. Each breed is judged separately until the group competition. The sexes
are divided until the Intersex class, where the Best of Breed dog or bitch is determined. Altered dogs may not compete in the classes described here. In most cases, the classes are Puppy 6 to 9 months, Puppy 9 to 12 months, Novice, Bred by Exhibitor, American Bred and Open. They are examined by the judge, in that order. Dogs always compete before bitches. The winners of each class are judged together to determine Winners Dog and Reserve Winners Dog, and Winners Bitch, and Reserve Winners Bitch. The Winners dog and bitch is judged together
with any Champions of Record which are entered in the Intersex class, to determine Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex, and Best of Winners [best competitor of the two Winners.] Any dog in this class may win Best of Breed, though it is often a Champion.

The Best of Breed dog will then proceed to be judged in its appropriate group, of which there are seven: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding. You will be surprised to learn that breeds do not always appear in the group to which their name might seem appropriate. The Tibetan Spaniel, for example, competes in the Non-
Sporting Group, rather than Sporting. In addition to the Groups mentioned, a small class offered at most shows is called Miscellaneous. There, dogs and bitches of the eligible breeds are judged together, and the winner does not proceed to any group.

Within the Group competition, first through fourth places are determined by the judge. Then the group winner competes with the six other group winners for the coveted award Best In Show. Few dogs ever achieve this level of performance, and almost no non-Champion. The subject of points, which determine a dog's championship, is too complex to
discuss in this brief narrative.

A final note: The AKC Gazette, and its companion publication The Events Calendar, are published monthly. The Events Calendar contains information about upcoming dog shows and other events in all
states. Please contact the AKC for additional information.

A Beginner's Guide To Dog Shows
Bred -By Explained
Counting Points At Dog Shows
Making Points At Dog Shows



How Do I Start?

If you are interested in showing, you either have a dog you bought from a breeder that is show potential or you are interested in finding a dog that is show potential. You should attend dog shows, search the internet, contact local vets or training centers for information on good breeders.

Beginner's Guide to Showing Dogs

How do I find out about Shows?

Contact a local kennel club or someone you know who shows dogs. Some shows are listed in Dog World Magazine or advertised in the newspaper. The easiest way to locate shows is by the superintendent (see below) or AKC Events Calendar (The AKC Gazette is the official magazine of the American Kennel Club, subscribers also recieve the Events Calendar). Map Quest can help you find out where the shows are located. Need a place to stay? Try the Ultimate Travel Agency for the Dog Fancier.

Getting Started Showing Your Dog
Getting Started in Obedience and Tracking
Getting Started in Performance Events
Handling your dog in the show ring
How A Dog Show Works...


I hear and I forget, I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
-Chinese Proverb-

How much does it cost to show my my Dalmatian?

Costs associated with showing depends on if you plan on training and showing the Dalmatian yourself or if you plan on having someone else do it for you. Costs involve training, registering for shows, costs associated with traveling, breeding, etc...
You do not need to be wealthy to show your Dalmatian. Some exhibitors live on tight budgets but still are able to afford to show their Dalmatian.


Handlers are professional dog show exhibitors. They get paid to train, groom, show and a variety of other tasks. People choose to pay a handler if they do not have the time to show, train or travel to a particular show.

Selecting a Professional Dog Handler
When, Why and How to Hire a Handler - At the End of the Leash by Richard Mason Terry

Jr. Showmanship

AKC Regulations For Junior Showmanship
Brianne's - Junior Showmanship & Handling Page - Great site
Getting Started in Junior Showmanship
Junior handlers: Teamwork in the show ring

"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You're thinking of failure as the enemy of success, but it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure - or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember, that's where you'll find success."
- Thomas J. Watson -

How old does my Dalmatian have to be before I begin showing them?

A dog must be at least 6 months old to be shown in a conformation show for championship points. They can be taken to fun matches before the age of 6 months. Each club holding the match will post the age requirement for puppies at their show.

Each type of showing requires different things. If you want to show in conformation (like many of the televised shows, i.,e., Westminster) your dog will need to remain intact (un-neutered or spayed) for the duration of his/her show career. A veteran (usually classified as any dog over 7 years of age) can usually be neutered/spayed and still compete at regional and national specialties.


How do I maintain my Dalmatian for the show ring?

Your Dalmatian should also be in good physical condition. He should not be allowed to become too obese and his/her nails should be kept at a reasonably short length. they should also have their teeth brushed and ears cleaned on a regular basis.

You also make to make sure you dog is kept in good condition. This means do not over feed and make sure the dog has the appropriate level of exercise. Either by walking, playing catch, jogging or putting them on a treadmill. For more info. on dog treadmills, see below.

Are there benefits to showing my Dalmatian?

Showing your Dalmatian can be fun!!! Showing can be a social event. Many people join clubs, email lists, chat rooms, etc. They go to doggie related social events, have dog party themes, etc. It is also a great excuse to travel.

It is a great way to spend time and bond with your Dalmatian. Training classes can be rewarding, fun and a great way to make new friends.

Sometimes there can be some interesting prizes rewarded for your Dalmatian's wins. They can range from practical items, cash, silver platters, glassware and rosettes. When your Dalmatian wins, you are usually get a photograph taken by a professional photographer to commemorate the win.

All-Breed vs. Specialty Dog Show

All-Breed Dog Show
A dog show where all breeds compete. First against their own breed for points or Best of Breed. Best of Breed competes in Variety Group. Group winners compete for final honor of Best In Show (BIS).

Specialty Dog Show
A dog show where ONLY one breed competes against their own breed for points or final honor of Best In Specialty Show (BISS/BOB).

FCI Grouping of Dog Breeds

Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (other than Swiss cattledogs) Sheepdogs
Pinschers, Schnauzers, Mastiffs (Molossians) and Swiss mountain & cattledogs Pinscher & Schnauzer
Mastiffs (Molossians)
Swiss Mountian & Cattle Dogs
Terriers Large Terries
Small Terriers
Bull Terriers
Toy Terriers
Dachshunds (Teckels) Miniature
Primitive type dogs and Spitzes Nordic Sled Dogs
Nordic Hunting Dogs
Nordic Watchdogs and Herders
European Spitz
Asian Spitz & Related Breeds
Primitive types (Caanan dog, Basenji, hairless breeds)
Primitive type hunting dogs (podengos)
Primitive type hunting dogs with ridged backs (Thai Ridgeback)
Scent hounds and related breeds Scent Hounds
Scent Hounds hunted on leash
Related Breeds (Dalmatian, Rhodesian Ridgeback)
Pointers Continental Pointing Dogs
United Kingdom Pointing Dogs
Retrievers, Water Dogs and Flushing Dogs Retrievers
Flushing Dogs
Water Dogs
Companions and Toys   Bichons & Related breeds
Small Belgian Dogs
Small Hairless Dogs
Tibetan Breeds
English Toy Spaniels
Japanese Chin & Pekinese
Continential Toy Spaniels
Toy Bull breeds  
Sighthounds (Windhounds) Longhaired and Fringed Windhounds
Wire Coated Windhounds
Short Haired Windhounds

  AKC Grouping of Dog breeds

 Sporting  Hounds  Working  Terriers
 Toys  Non-Sporting  Herding  Miscellaneous

Kennel Clubs/Organizations

AKC  American Kennel Club
ARBA  American Rare Breed Association
ANKC  Australian National Kennel Council
CKC  Canadian Kennel Club
FCI  Fédération Cynologique Internationale
IABCA  International All Breed Canine Association of America
KCGB  Kennel Club of Great Britain
NKC  National Kennel Club
UKC  United Kennel Club

What is a dog show superintendent?

Is a company that helps clubs put on their dog shows. They provide set-up and tearing down of rings, they provide ribbons, tables, matting, etc. They also list when and where shows will be held. Shows need to be entered three weeks prior to the date of the show.

Licensed Superintendents are responsible for sending out information (premium lists) and putting on dog shows. Contact the Superintendents to be placed on their mailing lists. Note: Superintendents are responsible ONLY the shows they put on.

Jack Bradshaw Dog Shows
P.O. Box 227303
Los Angeles, CA 90022-0178
Phone (323) 727-0136
Fax (323) 727-2949 
Brown Dog Show Organization, Inc.
Norman E. Brown
P.O. Box 2566
Spokane, WA 99220-2566
Phone (509) 924-1089
Fax (509) 924-1421 
Garvin Show Services
Jane Garvin
1922 SW Mawcrest Court
Gresham, Oregon 97080
Phone (503) 665-2578
Fax (503) 665-5899
Roy Jones Dog Shows, Inc.
Kenneth A. Sleeper
P.O. Box 828
Auburn, IN 46706-0828
Phone (219) 925-0525
Fax (219) 925-1146
MB-F, Inc.
Thomas J. Crowe
P.O. Box 22107
Greensboro, NC 27420-2107
Phone (336) 379-9352
Fax (336) 272-0864

P.O. Box 9999
Madison Heights, MI 48071
Phone (248) 588-5000
Fax (248) 588-7380
McNulty Dog Shows
Eileen McNulty
1745 Route 78
P.O.Box 175
Java Center, New York 14082
Phone (716) 457-3371
Fax (716) 457-9533 
Ace Mathews Dog Shows
Robert Rein
3840 N.E. 66th Ave.
Portland, OR 97213  
Phone (503) 287-7740 
Fax (503) 287-7937 

Nancy J. Mathews
11423 S
E Alder St.
Portland, OR 97216  
Phone (503) 253-9367
Fax (503) 255-6734 


Newport Dog Shows
William G. Antypas
P.O. Box 7131
Pasadena, CA 91109-7131 
Phone (626) 796-3869
Fax (626) 577-2444 
Onofrio Dog Shows
Jack Onofrio
P.O. Box 25764
Oklahoma City, OK
Phone (405) 427-8181
Fax (405) 427-5241
Oregon: (503) 239-1080 
Peters Dog Shows, Ltd.
Bob Peters
P.O. Box 579
Wake Forest, NC 27588-0579  Phone (919) 556-9516
Fax (919) 554-0519 
R & R Dog Shows
11012 Canyon Road
East #8-387
Puyallup, WA 98373
Phone (253) 531-3616
Fax (253) 531-3667  
Jim Rau Dog Shows, Ltd.
Kathleen Berkheimer
P.O. Box 6898
Reading, PA 19610-0898
Phone (610) 376-1880
Fax (610) 376-4939 

Kevin Rogers Dog Shows
P.O. Box 230
Hattiesburg, MS 39403-0230 Phone (601) 583-1110
Fax (601) 582-9909
Fax (601) 582-7769  

Nancy Wilson
8307 E. Camelback Rd. Scottsdale, AZ
Phone (602) 949-5389 
Show-By-Show Superintendent
Elaine Saldivar
4343 1/2 Burns Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029  
Phone (323) 663-5868
Fax (323) 644-1471  



Regional Specialty vs. National Specialty

Regional Specialty
Multiple regional clubs host these across the country.

National Specialty
A show usually held only once a year. Usually rotates to different parts of the country. Hosted by a regional club or members from multiple regional clubs we join together to put it on.



A class usually only held at Regional or National Specialties.

Rules For Futurity Stakes


AKC Ribbon/Rosette Colors

Regular Classes 

 First Prize  Blue
 Second Prize  Red
 Third Prize  Yellow
 Fourth Prize  White
 Winners  Purple
 Reserve Winners  Purple and White
 Best of Winners  Blue and White
 Best of Opposite Sex  Red and White
 Best of Breed or Variety  Purple and Gold
 Non-Regular Classes

 First Prize  Rose
 Second Prize  Brown
 Third Prize  Light Green
 Fourth Prize  Gray
Variety Groups - Rosettes

 First Prize  Blue
 Second Prize  Red
 Third Prize  Yellow
 Fourth Prize  White
 Best In Show - Rosettes

 Best in Specialty Show  Purple and Gold
 Best in Show  Red, White and Blue


Show dogs should be in top condition. That means good muscle tone, not too thin or too fat, nails trimmed to the proper length and proper coat. There are many good ways to exercise your dog: long walks, treadmills, agility, etc. Below are a few resources for treadmills.

- Dog Treadmill

Build Your Own Treadmill - Complete Materials List and Building Instructions
Treadmill - This site takes a few minutes to load.



FAQ/Glossary of Terms

  Stacking To stack your dog is to "pose" them for the judge to view. This allows the judge to see your dogs basic structure. A dog must stand with both front legs and rear legs parellel to each other (in other words, you cannot see 4 legs from the side, you only see 2). They better view a judge gets, the better chance you have at winning. This takes practice.

Happy Legs - A training device to teach your dog how to stand and stay in a correct show pose.
Gaiting or Gaiting pattern

To judge needs to view your dog's movement. Some expertise handlers can hit a dog's faults. However, these usually come out as the dog is gaited. There are several different patterns: an "L", a triangle, down and back.

Dog Locomotion and Gait Analysis - Book explaining gait analysis

Going over or examining the dog To judge needs to view your dog's bite, check to make sure both testicles are present (if the dog is a male), check coat texture and feel the dog's structure. Dogs need to learn to accept a stranger doing this to them. Not all dogs like to be touched by a stranger while stacked - mainly untrained puppies, adolescent, dominant or shy dogs. If your dog does not allow the judge to examine it, the judge has the right to excuse the dog from further competition that day (no money refunded).
  Show Lead A show lead is a special leash/collar used to present you dog in the ring. The can come in material such as: metal, nylon, etc. These can be purchased at dog shows or through pet catalogs. Lucky Leads
 Tack Box

 A box to carry all your dogs show supplies: Leads, treats, brushes, etc. They can either be a professionally made wooden or metal tack box or homemade. Some people use tackle boxes or a variety of other plastic boxes or bins as a tack box. Below is one place who makes tall, then tack boxes.

Northern Light Engraving
206 E. Back Street
Hecker, IL 62248-0069
1 (618) 473-2321

Tack Boxes- (Tall, White) Sold By Dog Show Vendor
What are points?

A major?
Dogs earn points based on beating other dogs. A point schedule that changes yearly, determines how many points a dog (by breed and region) earns by winning at any given AKC show. To earn a major a dog must beat a specific number of dogs, usually a larger entry of its breed. Points Tabulation
How does a dog become a champion?  A dog must earn 15 points and 2 majors (under 2 different judges). A dog does this by going to shows and competing against other dogs of its breed. Points are based on how many dogs are defeated at any given show.
 Tooth Fairy This is a judge or breeder who looks for full dentition (ALL teeth - no missing molars, premolars or front teeth). Breeds like Dobes, Rotts, and German Shepherds are required in their breed standards to have full dentition. The judge may open the dogs mouth all the way to check molars/premolars. Or they may part the mouth on each the side of the muzzle to check the side/back teeth. These judges may check for full dentition in all breeds, whether it is called for or not in that breed's standard. Most breeds are only required to show the front teeth at a show.
This can checked with only the front lips parted.

Dogs not used to having the full mouth or sides of the mouth checked may become spooked or agitated when this is done. It is a good idea to practice this with your dog prior to a show.
Where do I train? You can ask other dog people where they train, call your local kennel club, ask your vet for referrals, ask exhibitors at shows or your breeder. Practice makes perfect!!! Don't be afraid to drive a distance if the trainer is really good. The better the trainer the more you will learn and they better you will handle your dog. 
 How do you know to which judges to show to? Taking notes and keeping a judges book or spreadsheet on the computer. If you hear comments about judges also add those to your list. Infodog and some of the other superintent sites have show catalogs with results.If you are familiar enough with different types or styles of dogs a particular breeder shows, you can also check show results. For example, if breeder "A" & breeder "C" always have small dogs, you can assume the judges they win under may also like smaller dogs.

What To Wear In the Conformation ring?

Dress professionally. Keep your hair in a nice style that does not detract from your looks. Do not look like you just got out of bed. Judges tend to take exhibitors who dress and look the part, more serious. Men should wear a sport coat, w/ dress slacks and a tie or a suit. Colors should not clash or take away from the dog.

Women should wear something a short set, a dress or a skirt that is comfortable, not revealing. Pantsuits, jeans or anything that intereferes or clashes with the dogs movement or coloring should be avoided. Long hair should be in a barett, bun, braid or any other source to keep it from falling into your face or on to your dog.

Searching for a great dog showing outfit. Try BIScuts. Designed for comfort and easy movement in washable, breathable fabrics.


What is bait?

Bait is something used in the ring to get or keep or dog's attention. It can also be used to get more animation out of the dog. Bait can be in the form of food, a squeaky mouse or a favorite toy of the dog. A popular bait used in the show ring is liver. Limited use of liver is suggested for a Dalmatian. Since it is an organ meat it is high in purines which contribute to bladder/kidney stones. 


Liver Treats

Place liver in a pan. Add water - just enough to cover the liver. Add garlic if desired. Bring to a boil, lower flame and simmer until cooked (about 10-12 minutes). Don't forget to turn slices so they don't stick to the pan.

Place liver on foil lined cookie sheet. Bake in oven between 250 - 300 Degrees for about 30-35 minutes, turning slices occassionally.

When dry, place in a plastic bag and freeze. Remove as needed.

(Dogs will still love it, even if you have over-baked it.)


Bait Liver

Rinse and put as much liver as desired in a 4/5 quart pot, cover with cold water and add 3 Tbls salt. Sprinkle as much oregano as desired on the top of the water. Bring this to a boil, cover and simmer 28 minutes. Rinse, drain and pat dry. You may then do one of the following. Air dry in a regular oven at 275 degrees for ½ hour or in a microwave oven on slow cook, covered for 12 minutes. Store in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator. This can be frozen for future use.


Recommended reading

 Born To Win 4 Star Rating
(Breed To Succeed)
Patricia Craig Trotter
Tricks of The Trade 4 Star Rating
(From Best Intentions to Best In Show)
 Pat Hastings with Erin Ann Rouse
 The Winning Edge four star rating
(Show Ring Secrets)
George G. Alston w/ Connie
 K-9 : Structure and Terminology four star rating  Edward M. Gilbert, Thelma R. Brown
 Show Me! : A Dog Showing Primer  D. Caroline Coile
 Winning With Purebred Dogs (Success By Design)  Dr. Alvin Grossman & Beverly
 Dog Showing For Beginners  Hall
 The Forsyth Guide To Successful Dog Showing (First Edition)  Robert & Jane Forsyth
 The Road To Westminster  Freeman
 The New Dogsteps : A Better Understanding of Dog Gait Through Cineradiography ('Moving X-Rays') four star rating  Rachel Page Elliott, Eve Andrade
 The Preparation and Presentation of the Show Dog (Third Edition)  Jeff & Betty Brucker
 Dog Locomotion and Gait Analysis four star rating  Curtis Brown


Brianne's Handling Tips - Tips, Tricks, and Advice on handling, training, and grooming for the show ring!
Dog Folk - Pat Hastings website - The puppy puzzle & Tricks of The Trade seminar information.
Dog People Are Special People
Every Dog Has His Day

Owner Handler Assocation of America, Inc.
The "down side" of the dog show world
The Standard of the Breeder/Owner/Handler
Tips for the Show Ring
The Unwritten Rules of Dog Showing

 You know your a dog person.....when....



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