Showing your dog

Dog Shows are held every week up and down the country. It is strongly advised that you take your puppy to “Ring-craft” lessons at a local venue for many weeks before you actually considering entering a show. They can be overwhelming to a puppy (and handler) if you don’t know what to expect.  Ring-craft classes offer you the chance to learn how to present your dog to the best possible advantage and have “match nights” where a mock show is held.  Handling plays a large part in the presentation of your dog and there are many people available who can help you succeed.Dog Shows should be fun so don’t let the fear of the unknown put you off.  Your breeder will help you tremendously if this is something they have done with their dogs but please just contact the SWRA if you need any information – we are there to help you every step of the way.

For information on shows and show results, please visit or or There are other publishers but Fosse Data and Higham Press (“”) cover Championship shows and most larger Open Shows and EJC Print cover other, smaller Open shows.

There is a weekly newspaper solely for the purpose of imparting news and stories about dogs, but show dogs in particular. It is called “Our Dogs”. If you are lucky enough to win a first or second placing at a show, you will see the judge’s thoughts in the paper a few weeks later. You can download these papers through their websites or you can subscribe to receive the weekly paper.

Types of Show

There are several types of show:

  • Companion Show – this is the only type of show where any dog can enter whether KC registered or not.  There are Pedigree classes (where only KC registered dogs can enter) and for non-KC registered dogs, there are “fun” classes such as ‘Dog with Waggiest Tail’or ‘Prettiest Bitch’.  These shows are usually held during the summer months, have a great atmosphere and are a good place to socialise young puppies
  • Open Show – these shows have specific breed classes and any variety classes.  There are usually 1 or 2 classes per breed but there can be 3 or 4 or even more. Most classes are for both dogs and bitches.  There is no benching at an All-breed Open Show so you must hold your dog or keep it in a metal crate. “Soft” or fabric crates are allowed but you mustn’t leave your dog unattended at any time if using one of these.  These shows are a good training ground for novice handlers and judges
  • Open Breed Show- these are specifically for one breed (i.e. Rottweilers).  There are separate dog and bitch classes, and usually 9 or 10 classes for each sex.  Judges are usually breed-specialists.  There is usually no benching
  • Breed Championship Show- as implied, these shows are for only one breed held on one day. Classes may range from Minor Puppy through to Open, Veteran and sometimes Progeny and Stakes.  Most Championship shows qualify your dog for Crufts if it finishes 1st, 2nd or 3rd in its class – but not all classes do so chose carefully. There are separate dog and bitch rings with a judge in each ring.  Judges may be breed-specialists, all-rounders (who undertake the judging of many breeds),  breed-specialists from abroad or a combination
  • All-Breed Championship Show- these are massive shows held mostly outside and during the summer months where the dogs are benched (wooden boards divided into cubicles) and chained to the back of the bench for safety, or kept in a metal crate under large marquees. There are usually loads of stalls where you can purchase almost anything related to dogs. They are held over a three or four day period and separated into the different Groups (Hound, Gundog, Terrier, Working, Pastoral, Utility, Toy).  Judges can either be breed-specialists or all-rounders

Entering a Show

First, you must apply for a Schedule of the Show from the Show Secretary or they can usually be picked up at shows or downloaded from one of the sites mentioned above.  Fill out the entry form with the Kennel Club details of your dog (all dogs must be KC registered).  You will probably want the help of somebody who has exhibited before as it can be a bit muddling at first.  Then send off your entry form with the appropriate fee.  At the show itself, you may collect your Catalogue which lists all the dogs entered in a particular class.  At Open Shows, the steward will give you your ring number which you must wear whilst exhibiting your dog. At Championship Shows, the ring numbers are usually fixed at the top of the benches.  All dogs must be benched at a general Championship Show.  All dogs must be kept on a lead whilst in the show ring and in the area of the showground.  You must always carry your poop-scoop bag and clear up any mess made by your dog – this is a Kennel Club rule.

Dogs under 6 months of age may not be exhibited at shows in the UK although you can take your puppy after it is 4 months old to most Open Shows for the experience of the atmosphere.

There are several classes your dog may be eligible for: some classes are restricted by age and some by the amount of winning a dog has achieved. All Championship Shows exhibit the Dog classes first, followed by the Bitch classes but many Open Shows have both sexes in the ring at the same time.

All Age-restricted classes qualify your dog for Crufts.

  • Minor Puppy: for dogs of at least 6 months of age and not more than 9 months old
  • Puppy: for dogs of 6 months (but usually at least 9 months old) and not more than 12 months old
  • Junior: for dogs of 6 months (but usually at least 12 months old) and not more than 18 months old
  • Yearling: for dogs of 6 months (but usually 18 months) but no more than 24 months old
  • Veteran: for dogs more than 7 years of age

The other Crufts qualifier classes are Post Graduate, Limit and Open.

Classes can be restricted by wins of a dog, for example “Beginners” (for a dog or handler who hasn’t won a first prize at a show), or perhaps “Post-Graduate” (for dogs which have not won a Challenge Certificate (“CC”) or 5 or more first prizes.

The “Open” class is for all dogs although usually only dogs that have won many classes at previous shows would be shown in this group.

Only at Championship Shows do the Kennel Club award Challenge Certificates (“CCs” – sometimes known as “tickets”) and by winning three of these “tickets” under three different judges, your dog will be entitled to the accolade of CHAMPION and their Pedigree will have their name in red.