Excerpted from AKC.org.
Whether or not you have attended dog shows, if it looks like something you and your dog would both enjoy, here’s what to do.
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.
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
If you’ve attended a dog show, you’ve already taken an important step in getting involved in the sport of showing your dog. If you haven’t yet attended a show make an effort to do so.
To find out about AKC dog events in your area, you can check the Event Calendar, where you can search by date and by type of event. Dog shows are advertised in local newspapers, on posters in local shops, and on radio and television. Many times a phone number is given that you may call to get more information on the time your breed will be judged. But, if possible, plan to spend the day and watch not only your breed’s judging, but others as well. You’ll find attending a dog show to be a great way to spend a day.
You can 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.
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.
Hiring a professional
If you don’t wish to handle your dog yourself, you may contact a professional handler to show your dog. Professional handlers charge a fee for showing dogs, so before hiring a handler make sure you obtain a schedule of the fee. Talk to several handlers, get copies of their rate schedules and visit their facilities. Observe them both in and out of the ring before making up your mind which handler to choose. You will be entrusting them with your dog’s care, so make sure you are entirely comfortable before doing so. If there is something you don’t understand, make sure the prospective handler answers all of your questions before entering into any agreement.
Join the World of AKC Dog Shows!
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!