The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Dog Show Competitions

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Dog Show Competitions

Dog shows in the UK are not just a display of canine beauty and grace; they’re a celebration of breed standards, training, and grooming. These events are immensely popular, with The Kennel Club’s dog shows being the pinnacle of purebred dog competitions​​. Whether you’re an enthusiastic dog owner, a professional breeder, or just a dog lover, understanding the intricacies of these shows can be both fascinating and beneficial.

1. The Essence of Dog Shows

Dog showing, as the UK’s most popular canine activity, offers a platform for owners to demonstrate why their dog is the best. At its core, a dog show is a competitive event where dogs are judged against a specific breed standard set by The Kennel Club​​​​. These standards cover everything from physical attributes to temperament, ensuring that the dogs not only look good but are also fit for their original purpose.

2. Participants in Dog Shows

A typical dog show involves various participants: judges, professional handlers, exhibitors (owners or breeders), and breeders themselves. Each plays a vital role in the event, from judging and presenting the dogs to actually hosting the show​​.

3. Training and Preparation

Preparation for dog shows extends beyond basic training. It includes specific training in areas like posing (stacking) and movement (gaiting) around the ring. This training is crucial as dogs are judged not only on their appearance but also on their movement and behavior​​.

4. Judging Criteria

Dogs in shows are judged against the breed standards rather than against each other. These standards are detailed and cover every aspect of the dog’s physique and behavior. The judge’s task is to find the dog that best fits these standards​​.

5. Types of Dog Shows

The UK features a variety of dog shows:

  • Limited Shows: Entry-level shows restricted geographically or by membership.
  • Open Shows: Suitable for all levels of pedigree dog exhibitors, with a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Premier Open Shows: Similar to Open Shows but provide qualifications for Crufts.
  • Championship Dog Shows: Feature a higher level of competition, with opportunities to win Challenge Certificates (CCs) and qualify for Crufts​​.

There are also specific shows like Single Breed, Group Shows, and General Shows catering to different categories and interests​​.

6. Companion Dog Shows

For those seeking a more relaxed environment, Companion Dog Shows are ideal. These events are often organized for charitable causes and offer a great opportunity for dog owners to practice and build confidence​​.

7. Getting Started

For newcomers, it’s recommended to visit shows, join ring craft clubs, and ensure their dog is registered with The Kennel Club and meets the age requirements. There are classes suitable for various age groups and experience levels​​.

8. The Ultimate Goal: Crufts

Crufts is the ultimate goal for many in the UK dog showing community. Qualifying for this prestigious event is a significant achievement, attainable through success in certain classes at Championship and Premier Open Shows​​.


Dog shows in the UK are a fascinating blend of tradition, discipline, and passion. Whether you’re aiming for Crufts or simply want to participate in a local show, understanding these aspects of dog showing can greatly enhance your experience and success in this rewarding activity.

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