Dog Show! What’s the Point?

Dogs at a confirmation show are judged by how closely they resemble their breed standard. Breeders try to breed dogs that match the standard for their particular breed. At a show a judge awards places to dogs in the order that, in their opinion, reflects the breed standard. The breed standards were originally written to describe a particular breed of dog with the best possible physical and temperamental characteristics to perform the tasks for which they were originally bred. Therefore, the point of a dog show is to recognise and reward those exhibitors who present dogs that most closely resemble the breed standard. That’s the theory, anyway!

What Happens at a Dog Show?
Dogs are judged in several stages at a dog show. Initially, judging is at breed level. Dogs compete against other dogs of the same breed, sex and age group.

Breed Level

All breeds are judged in the following order with each sex judged separately:

  • Class Age
  • Baby Dog/Bitch 3 to 6 Months
  • Minor Puppy Dog/Bitch 6 to 9 Months
  • Puppy Dog/Bitch 9 to 12 Months
  • Junior Dog/Bitch 12 to 18 Months
  • Intermediate Dog/Bitch 18-36 Months
  • Australian Bred Dog/Bitch Any dog over 12 months of age bred in Australia
  • Open Dog/Bitch Any dog not covered by the other classes

The Judge usually awards places First, Second and Third for class depending on the number in the class. The winners of each class (except for Baby Dog) then re-enter the judging ring. This is called the “Challenge Line-up”. The Judge then chooses the dog (s)he feels is the closest to the breed standard. This dog is awarded a “Challenge Certificate”. A Challenge Certificate is worth 5 points, plus one point for each dog of the same sex over 6 months old that has competed. The lowest Challenge that can be awarded is 6 points, the highest 25 points. Once a dog accumulates 100 Challenge points it qualifies for the title of “Australian Champion”.

The Challenge Certificate winner then leaves the ring. A “Reserve Challenge” is then awarded to the judges choice from the remainder of the dogs in the line-up and the second place getter in the class to which the Challenge Certificate winner belonged (i.e. if the Challenge Certificate winner was from Open Dog, then the second place getter from the Open Dog class enters the ring to compete with the remaining class winners for Reserve). The Reserve Challenge winner is not awarded points toward their Australian Champion title, however they may be able to compete for “Runner Up Best of Breed”.

The same judging sequence is then completed for the Bitches. After the Reserve Challenge Bitch has been awarded, the Challenge Dog and Challenge Bitch return to the ring to compete for “Best of Breed”. The winner of this award is replaced by the dog/bitch which was awarded Reserve to them in the Challenge Line-up (e.g. if the Challenge Dog wins the Best of Breed, the Reserve Challenge Dog enters the ring) to compete for Runner Up Best of Breed. Finally the winners of each age class compete for the award of Best Baby of Breed, Best Minor Puppy of Breed and so on.

Group Level

Dogs are grouped together by the ANKC according to their original purpose. There are 7 groups with Border Collies exhibited in the “Working Dog” group, also known as Group 5. All of the Best of Breed winners from a group are recalled to compete against each other for the award of “Best in Group”. The Best in Group winner is automatically awarded 25 challenge points, regardless of how many dogs were entered in its breed. Reserve in Group is then awarded from the remainder of dogs in the Group and the Runner Up Best of Breed to the Best in Group winner. Finally the best exhibits in each age group are chosen. Every Best Baby of Breed enters the ring to compete for Baby in Group and so on with the other age groups.

Show Level

Competition for Best In Show is between the seven Best In Group winners that have been awarded previously. Runner Up In Show is chosen from the remainder of the Group winners and the Runner Up In Group to the Best In Show winner. The Group winners in each age group, Baby, Minor, Junior, Intermediate, Australian Bred and Open are also chosen at Show level.

How Do I Enter?
You need to join the state controlling body, the Canine Control Council (Queensland) before you can enter a conformation show. Once you become a member, you will receive a monthly publication; the “Queensland Dog World”. This magazine lists the conformation shows, obedience and agility trials that will be held throughout the state.

You will need to complete an entry form from the entry booklet. These booklets are available from the CCCQ . To complete the form you will need the “Queensland Dog World” edition that lists the details of the show in which you plan to enter, and your dog’s pedigree. Take note of the closing date for the entries. If you miss this date, you may not be entered in the catalogue and therefore unable to exhibit your dog.

The catalogue lists all dogs entered at a show according to their breed and class entered. The order of judging is as it appears in the catalogue. Each exhibit entered receives a number corresponding to the placement within the catalogue. Some country shows will require an “SAE”, which is a Stamped Self Addressed envelope. This will be returned with the passes that enable you to get past the gate at the Agricultural Show without paying an entry fee. The number of passes received normally depends on the number of dogs you have entered.