A Simple Guide To Showing


In order to show a dog in the UK it must be registered with the Kennel Club, with the exception of Companion Dog Shows. Contact details for The Kennel Club are as follows:-

The Kennel Club, 1-5 Clarges Street, London, W1J 8AB.

Telephone:              0870-606-6750;

Fax:                        020-7518-1058

E-mail:                    info@the-kennel-club.org.uk

Web site:                http://www.the-kennel-club.org.uk/

If contemplating showing in Eire, whilst the dog must be registered primarily in its country of birth, registration should also be effected with the Irish Kennel Club (IKC). A further fee is payable and the name registered with the UK Kennel Club will then be registered with the IKC during subsequent registration. Further details regarding registration with the IKC are available from:-

Irish Kennel Club Ltd., Fottrell House, Harold's Cross Bridge, Dublin 6W, Eire.

Telephone:              00-353-1-4533300,

Fax:                        00-353-1-4533237

E-mail:                    ikenclub@indigo.ie

Web site:                http://www.ikc.ie/



Currently the four most common types of shows approved by the Kennel Club are briefly described as:-


At which registered and unregistered dogs are eligible to enter


These shows are open to KC registered dogs with entries open only to club members.


Entries at open shows can be made with any KC registered dog, whilst membership of the club in this category is not required.


It is at this level of KC registered shows that Challenge Certificates are offered, thus providing opportunities to win “Champion” status for shown dogs (more explanations later). Entries can be made with any KC registered dog and once again club membership is not a requirement.



The most important aspect in commencing the preparation for showing, is training the dog.

Training should be started as early as possible by getting the dog used to being groomed and stood. Additionally, the dog should become accustomed to a lead initially in the garden and subsequently during “roadwork” exercise.

When “moving” the dog on a lead within the garden you should practice achieving harmony between yourself and the dog both in terms of a balanced speed (usually between walking and slow jogging speed depending upon the age/size of the dog), and an ability to maintain straight lines or move in a triangle.

It is also advisable to attend a local club for ringcraft training both for yourself as well as the dog. More detailed information regarding grooming the Old English Sheepdog is provided in separate grooming notes.







In making the first basic decisions regarding entering for a show, you will need to decide at which level you wish to show. Usually it is easier (and considerably cheaper) to start with the Limited but more commonly with the Open Shows.

These shows are usually identified through membership of a dog club or through advertisements in the dog press. “Our Dogs” and “Dog World” are two, weekly publications which carry several advertisements for dog shows.

Obviously some of the factors, which will influence the choices regarding which shows to enter, are dates, locations, whether there are classes for your breed and also who is judging the show/breed classes. Having decided which show(s), contact the Secretary whose details are included in the advertisement and request a “schedule” for the show.

Following receipt of the schedule you should read it carefully, and if deciding to enter, you should complete the entry form with the relevant details. It is advisable to keep a note of the basic details that you have completed for your own reference.

When posting the completed entry form, request a “certificate of posting” from the post office, which will enable you to prove that you have posted your entry.



You will need to ensure that before setting off for the show you have all of your equipment ready (see section on suggestions for equipment).

I personally prefer to groom the dog the night before so that when you arrive at the show there are no difficult knots to deal with.


An obvious point perhaps, but allow plenty of time to arrive at the show before judging starts, there is nothing worse than to have spent all of the time in preparation and then arrive after your class(es) are finished.

When you arrive at the show, locate the ring where you will be showing and, if provided, the benching where your dog should be kept when not being shown, groomed or exercised.

You will probably wish to purchase a catalogue in order that you can see the entrants in each of the classes as well as identifying your ring number.

Ring numbers are sometimes provided in the ring, but may possibly need to be collected from the Secretary or your bench - Check before entering the ring! Next you should prepare your dog ready for the final ring presentation which should be carried out shortly before the commencement of your class(es), again, for the Old English Sheepdog, the separate grooming notes should be of assistance in this respect.



When entering the show ring (it will have been helpful to watch and note the procedure in previous classes) you should note whether exhibits are being lined up in numerical order, or in the order of arrival, and proceed in to the ring and stand your dog in the appropriate place (usually with the left side of the dog away from you and the dog facing to your right) and finalise the presentation of your dog (stood “square” and for Old English Sheepdogs, groomed as per notes).

When it is your turn for the judge to examine your dog, place him/her ready for inspection and encourage the dog to stand still whilst the judge compares your dog to the breed standard, after which you will be asked to “move” your dog, sometimes this will be in a straight line (away and back) or a triangle (away from the judge to a corner across the top and back) and occasionally completely around the ring.

One important point is when moving your dog never place yourself between the dog and the judge, if you see the judge move you may need to change side from the usual dog on the left, to the right. After moving your dog as requested by the judge, stand your dog again for a final check by the judge and then when indicated return to the line.

Watch other exhibitors carefully so that you know how many have been examined and when the last 1/2 are to be seen, you can prepare your final presentation again for when the judge makes his/her decisions at the end of the class and indicates their selected placings.

Conversation with the judge in the ring is not permitted and if you are unsure about anything you should check with the ring steward(s) who will be organising the ring activities for the judge. After the placings have been completed, be a good sportsman and congratulate the winners.



At the end of each class the judge will place the dogs in order of preference from 1st to 4th/5th (in the UK 4th is known as “Reserve” and 5th as “Very Highly Commended”).

After all of the classes have been judged, sometimes all of the classes for each sex separately, the class winners will return to the ring for the “challenge” for Best of Sex or Best of Breed.

If the sexes are judged separately then the two best of sex winners compete for Best of Breed. Additionally, there is often competition for Best Puppy.

The Best of Breed winner will then be eligible to compete for the Group/Best in Show depending upon the show programme.

Perhaps a final point regarding awards, is that to enter Crufts you must “qualify” and this is achieved with certain qualifying class wins/places mostly at Championship shows.






An additional award can be won in the UK by young dogs when gaining a number of points over a number of shows. The points can only be won between the ages of 6 and 18 months, and are awarded for class wins at both Championship and Open Shows. The points awarded are:-

Championship Shows (with CC’s for breed)      - 3 points for each 1st place in a breed class.

Open Shows (or Ch. Shows without CC's)        {- 1 point for each 1st place in a breed class.

{- 1 point for Best Of Breed (only if no qualifying points were gained in breed class/es and at least 3 dogs were present in the breed classes)

Additionally, it should be noted that the relevant points can not be claimed if there are less than 3 dogs actually present in each class for which the points are being claimed. Finally, at least 3 of the points must be gained at Championship Shows where CC’s are on offer, and at least 3 points at Open Shows (or Championship Shows where CC’s are not on offer).

These points are not purely limited to the "Puppy" and "Junior" classes but for any class wins whilst the dog is in it’s relevant age of 6 - 18 months. The Junior Warrant is awarded by the Kennel Club after a total of 25 points have been won.

To receive the certificate you need to complete a form (obtainable from the Kennel Club), detailing the relevant class wins, which, following its receipt and confirmation by the Kennel Club, a certificate will be issued. Additionally, the award of a Junior Warrant also includes entry in the Stud Book as well as the entitlement to add the title “JW” to the end of the dog’s name.



At UK Championship Shows, Challenge Certificates (CC’s) are offered for most breeds by the Kennel Club. These certificates are awarded to the Best of Sex winners with Reserve CC’s for the runners up in each sex. After winning three CC’s the title of Champion is awarded, subject to Kennel Club confirmation.

Under Irish Kennel Club rules “Green Stars” are awarded rather than Challenge Certificates. Seven Green Stars are required to achieve a Champion Title, these must be awarded by seven different judges. Additionally, a grading system has been introduced which requires a dog to be graded excellent (or in the case of puppies – Very Promising) before it can be awarded a Green Star. There is an extra stipulation that one Green Star must be won after the age of 15 months before the title can be awarded.

Other countries have variations for obtaining their national titles and the requirements should be checked with the respective kennel clubs. Additionally, the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) who are the governing body for a large number of member and affiliated countries around the world, awards the title of International Champion. In order to be awarded the international title, the dog must be over 15 months old and win 4 CACIB’s across three different countries, under three different judges. Further to these basic requirements, a period of one year and a day must elapse from the first CACIB before a CACIB is won to achieve the title. Also, one CACIB must be won in a “home” country (country of residence).

UK bred and registered dogs, whilst not having to achieve a “home country” CACIB, must be a UK Champion before the UK Kennel Club will recognize the International Champion title.



Clearly any simple guide for a novice exhibitor can be no substitute for several years experience and only practice and familiarity will provide the necessary experience. Therefore, never hesitate to talk to the more seasoned exhibitors and be prepared to listen and learn, even the so called experts were novices once!


  • Grooming table (if preferred) and/or a blanket
  • Benching blanket (for most championship shows)
  • Brush(es)
  • Comb(s)
  • Fresh water (both for journey and at show)
  • Dog food (if required for longer distance shows)
  • Bowl(s)
  • Biscuits/chews (for treats)
  • Show lead
  • Benching chain (for most championship shows)
  • Ring number clip (or safety pin)
  • Kitchen roll          
  • Towel(s)   to dry damp/wet spots


 Bob Martin

May 1994
1st  update February 1998
2nd update April 2001
3rd update March 2002
4th update March 2007






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