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A DAY AT THE DOG SHOW - written from a toy breed perspective

AKC “Conformation” dog shows may seem like a beauty contest but the purpose of confirmation showing is to evaluate breeding dogs.  

If you have never been to a dog show and want to know more about them and how they work, Here is my account of a dog show and how it works. This was written for beginners just to give an idea of what to expect.

Most people who show dogs typically fall into one of three catagories- 

PROFESSIONAL HANDLER - A person who travels around the country showing one or many dogs for other people. To these people this is their job and how they make a living. Handlers are very professional about what they do. These are the people you need to watch in your chosen breed to learn how your dog should be presented.

BREEDER - OWNER - HANDLER - A person who bred the dogs they show and have been showing dogs anywhere from 2 - 50+ years. Most of these people consider breeding and showing dogs a hobby.

NEWBIE - A person who has been showing dogs for a short time and is trying to learn the etiquette of showing as well as how to groom and present their dog to look the very best it can.

At a dog show the biggest award you can achieve is Best In Show. Most exhibitors are happy with winning Winners bitch or winners dog as this is where your dog can accumulate enough points to become an AKC champion of record.

To be eligible to compete in AKC conformation shows your dog must:

1. Be individually registered with AKC

2. be at least six months old

3. You must have a breed which a class is offered

4. Your dog must meet the requirements in the written standard for your breed. You can go to https://www.akc.org/breeds/complete_breed_list.cfm for a list of breeds and the AKC written standards.

5. Dogs cannot be spayed or neutered.

Many dog clubs offer classes to attend during the week so you can practice and learn how to play at the dog shows.


Tian Mi Shih Tzu uses Bead Leads exclusively for all our leash/ lead needs. In and out of the ring. 


STEPS LEADING UP TO BEST IN SHOW - BIS - (Maybe one day for me.... if lightening strikes!)

1. You must register your dog for the show weeks in advance before the show registration closes. You can register via mail or online. Online is much more covenant and you can get a list of all the shows with dates and closing times at www.infodog.com - Southern states

3. The class you enter in depends on the age and sex of your dog. Make sure to look at the classes offered and select which class your dog qualifies for on the date he/ she is being shown. EXAMPLE - If you have a seven month old puppy boy - you would enter the 6-9 month dog class. If you have a 7 month old puppy girl, you would enter the 6-9 month bitch class (it may sound bad but if you show dog slong enough it will roll off yoru tounge without a second though! LOL)

2. You will receive your judging schedule in the mail the week before the show. This shows you what number you are as well as what ring and time you will show. It also gives you an entry breakdown which tells you how many dogs and bitches are entered so you will know before you go how many points your dog could win.

3. The day before you start preparing your dog for show. Pick your attire for the next day. Business suites are preferred. Skirts for woman and ties for men. Remember, you want to look professional. Pack a bag with all the things you will need while you are at the show. Combs, brushes, bands, bows, sprays........ This list can go on forever.

4. The day has finally arrived. Today your showing your dog. You arrive at the show and find the gate to enter. Some shows have specified unloading area for grooming. You can ask the attendants if there is an unloading area. You will be directed where to go. Unload your things and find a grooming spot, set up your things and groom your dog. This might be a good time to take a minute and go explore the show site to find where your ring is located. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time before ring time to make your dog look their best!

5. Gather your dog and things you will need ringside (a small bag is nice to carry easily to the ring) and go to the ring at least ten minutes before your judging time. If your schedule says there are 10 or more dog before you, you can wait until exact ring time to go.

6. Find the ring steward. This person will be located at a table just inside the ring you show in. You have to check in. Tell them your breed and point in their book to your dog and number. You will be given a number. Normally there are bands ringside to use to hold your number on your LEFT arm.

7. Now its time to wait for the ring steward to call your number. Pay close attention to who is in the ring and who they are calling for. Dog (boy) classes go first. Once all the dogs are done, bitch classes will go in the ring. 

8. When they call your class and number enter the ring (usually in catalog order) Pay attention to the other exhibitors numbers. You place your dog after the number before yours. Stack your dog and make him/ her look the best they can look. The judge will walk down the line of dogs and get a first impression of the class. First impressions mean a lot!!!!

9. Normally the class will walk around the ring and the first dog in the line will be placed on the table. When its your turn to place your dog on the table, take your time and make sure your dog is stacked and looking their best so when the judge turns around from watching the other exhibitor he/ she will see a perfect specimen standing before them on the table. Always be confident in the ring. Your dog is the best and you know it, no matter what you see. You don't know what's under the hair of the other dogs shown. Remember it is every exhibitors job to make their dog look their best. That includes hiding any flaws the dog may have with grooming!!!

10. As the judge approaches many will stand to get a snap shot of the side view and come to the front of the dog for a front view. Smart judges will put their hands up for the dog to smell as they approach and usually start examining the dog with the head. If your dog starts to back away, firmly place your hand on the shoulders to reassure the dog and hold them in place. Some judges may ask you to show the bite. You gently pull the top lips up or crack the bite slightly so the judge can get a good look. 

11. After the judge goes over your dog, they will instruct you to go down and back. Take your time to brush your dog out and line them up so the judge gets a perfect look at your dogs movement. Taking your dog off the table behind the judge's back or to the side is usually a good idea. You then have a minute to gather your dog and fix any imperfections out of view of the judge. When you go down, if your dog starts to shake or act up turn around and start over calming your dog. Again, you want the judge to see your dogs perfect movement.

12. The judge will look at your dog when you come back and send you around the ring to stack your dog in line. Take this time to perfect how your dog looks again.  The judge will intruct you where to stand (usually behind other exhibitors) After all exhibitors have gone down and back the judge will normally send them all around together and make his/ her final selection.

13. Classes are presented to the judge with the youngest going first, dogs and bitches are separated. Example 6-9 month puppy dogs go first, the judge will pick 1 dog from each class to move forward to the winners dog class. 

Once the judge has made his or her selection from each class of dogs, all of the dog winners will go back into the ring to compete in the winners dog class. The judge will make a selction from this group of dogs for winners dog. 

This is the boy dog that gets points for the day.The judge will them start the process over with bitches.  The judge will narrow them down to one winner from dogs and one winner from bitches. Winners Dog and Winners Bitch. 

The Points toward a Championship shall be awarded to the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch of each breed or variety based on the actual number of dogs or bitches competing in that breed or variety https://www.akc.org/events/conformation/point_schedule.cfm

14. The very last class to go in is the breed class. In this class the judge will select Best of Breed, Best of winners, Best of Opposite, Select dog and select bitch. Dogs that are already champions, AKA specials, will enter the ring first followed by winners dog and winners bitch. The dog that wins Best of breed will continue on to the groups later in the day to have a chance to compete for Best in Show.

15 There are seven groups of dogs. if you win Best of Breed your dog will go in the appropriate group.

Sporting - These dogs were bred to hunt game birds both on land and in the water. The breeds in this group include Pointers, Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels.

Hounds - These breeds were bred for hunting other game by sight or scent. These breeds include such dogs as Beagles, Bassets, Dachshunds and Greyhounds.

Working - These dogs were bred to pull carts, guard property and perform search and rescue services. Among the breeds in this group are the Akita, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher and St. Bernard.

Terrier - This group includes breeds such as the Airedale, Cairn Terrier and Scottish Terrier. Terriers were bred to rid property of vermin such as rats.

Toy - These dogs were bred to be household companions. This group includes little dogs such as the Chihuahua, Maltese, Pomeranian and Pug.

Non-Sporting - This diverse group includes the Chow Chow, Bulldog, Dalmatian and Poodle. These dogs vary in size and function, and many are considered companion dogs.

Herding - These dogs were bred to help shepherds and ranchers herd their livestock. The Briard, Collie, German Shepherd Dog and Old English Sheepdog are some of the breeds in this group.

Ribbons for first second, third, and fourth are awarded in the groups. The first place dog moves on to compete for Best in show and Reserve Best in Show. At the end of the day one dog is selected to be the big winner of the day.

16. Go home, wash brush and repeat. ;o)





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Bailley's Blog - Bailley was diagnosed with Cushing's in November of 2014. We lost Bailley 8/15/17

This is a record of our journey and how I chose to treat her. It is my hope others will find comfort and answers.



Tian Mi Shih Tzu uses Pet Oasis Water Stands with Lixit bottles 





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