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Paw Bar

Music: The Winner Takes It All
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The following article was written by
Kathleen J. Stewart
Klompen Keeshonden

and copied in this format with her permission.
Article Copyright: Kathleen J. Stewart


Dog shows are held so that people can show off their purebred dogs. The ultimate objective is to improve the quality of dogs by having them compete, one against the other. This is a place where breeders can have their breeding stock evaluated by others who are qualified to do so. There are more than 140 breeds of purebred dogs recognized by The Canadian Kennel Club. Depending on what the dogs were originally bred to do, they are divided into 7 groups of dogs, as follows:

         Group 1 -  Sporting
The dogs in this group were used primarily for hunting game birds and waterfowl. This group includes a variety of Setters, Retrievers, Spaniels and Pointers.

Group 2 -  Hounds

These dogs were bred to hunt other animals. The group is broken into those that hunt by sight - the sight hounds, and those that follow scent - the scent hounds (i.e., Bassets, Beagles and Dachshunds).

Group 3 - Working

These breeds were used for a variety of purposes such as sledding, guarding, pulling carts and rescue dogs (i.e., Siberian Huskies, Rottweiler and Newfoundlands).

Group 4 - Terriers

These are breeds that traditionally went to ground for vermin (i.e., Scottish, Cairn and Soft-Coated Wheaten).

Group 5 - Toys

These breeds were developed primarily as companion dogs. They are generally quite small as the name implies (i.e., Pekingese, Pugs and Pomeranian).

Group 6 -  Non-Sporting

Generally this is a group that includes dogs that don't fit in other groups (i.e., Bulldog, Keeshond and Bichon Frise).

Group 7 - Herding

These breeds drive or herd livestock (i.e., Old English Sheepdog, German Shepherd and Welsh Corgi).


In every breed, in the dogs competing for points, males are judged first, then females. A dog must be a minimum of 6 months of age before it can compete in the show. For each sex, at a regular show, there are 5 classes and the judge evaluates each dog; awarding first, second, third and fourth placing depending on the number of entries in the class. At Specialty shows, other classes may be offered.

JUNIOR PUPPY for dogs between 6 months and under 9 months of age;
SENIOR PUPPY for dogs between 9 months and under 12 months of age;
12-18 MONTH CLASS for dogs 12 months of age and under 18 months of age
on the day of the show.
CANADIAN BRED for dogs born in Canada. Champions of any country are excluded;
BRED BY EXHIBITOR OPEN for all dogs. Usually the older and more experienced show dogs are to be
seen in this class;
VETERANS CLASS (at Specialty shows only) for dogs 7 years of age and over on the day of the show. Dogs entered in this class may be spayed or neutered; and
EXHIBITION ONLY for all dogs who will be at the show, but will not be going in the show ring and will not be competing.

First place wins a royal blue ribbon.
Second place wins a red ribbon
Third place wins a yellow ribbon, and
Fourth place wins a white ribbon.

NOTE: Only dogs entered in one or more of the above classes are permitted to be on the show grounds of a Conformation dog show.


After the male classes have been judged, the dogs placing first in each class are brought back into the ring to compete with the best one being awarded the Winners Male award. This dog is the only male in this breed which can be awarded points towards his championship.

WINNERS wins a purple ribbon.

After the Winners Male is selected, the dog that placed second to the Winners Male in its original class is brought back into the ring to compete against the other class winners for Reserve Winners Male. This dog will be awarded the points if for any reason the win of the Winners Male is disallowed by the CKC.

RESERVE WINNERS wins a lavender ribbon.

The process is repeated for females through all the classes to the selection of Winners Female and Reserve Winners Female. Winners Female is the only female in this breed that can be awarded points towards her championship.

Dogs who have already obtained their Canadian championship are called Specials and can be entered in the Specials Only class. In order for Specials to compete in this class, they must be registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or have an Event Registration Number issued by the CKC. All dogs entered in Specials Only are brought into the ring with the Winners Male and the Winners Female for the selection of:

BEST OF BREED wins a red, white and blue ribbon. This dog competes later in the Group judging as the sole representative of his breed.

BEST OF OPPOSITE SEX to Best of Breed wins a green and white ribbon.

BEST OF WINNERS wins a purple and gold ribbon. Only two dogs compete in this class - the Winners Male and the Winners Female. One is chosen BEST OF WINNERS. If the Winners Male or Winners Female is awarded Best of Breed, that dog is automatically Best of Winners. The Best of Winners dog may be entitled to more points, as explained below

After the Best of Winners is awarded, the judge selects the
BEST PUPPY in BREED wins a pale blue ribbon from the undefeated puppies in competition.


In a dog show, the competition becomes keener and more exciting at the end. When all breeds have been judged, only one dog in each breed remains undefeated, the one which was chosen Best of Breed. The Best of Breed winners are brought into the ring and the judge awards first, second, third and fourth placements in each of the seven groups - Sporting, Hounds, Working, Terriers, Toys, Non-Sporting and Herding.
Only ONE dog wins each group.

The Group 1st placer wins a royal blue rosette.
The Group 2nd placer wins a red rosette
The Group 3rd placer wins a yellow rosette, and
The Group 4th placer wins a white rosette.


Following the Group competition, the Best Puppy in Breed winners are brought together to compete for:
the Best Puppy in Group award, winning a baby blue rosette.


These seven GROUP WINNERS meet in the final competition and only ONE dog wins the cherished:
BEST IN SHOW winning a red, white and blue rosette.


Similarly, seven Puppy GROUP WINNERS meet in the final competition and only ONE dog wins
BEST PUPPY IN SHOW winning a baby blue rosette.


In order to become a champion, a dog must be registered with the CKC, or have a CKC ERN, and win 10 points under a minimum of three different judges. (To clarify this, a single point or more must be won under three different judges by earning the Winner's award.) These points are won by defeating dogs within their own breed, by being chosen as the Winners Male or Winners Female. The number of points depends on the number of dogs of each sex competing in each breed. Only one male and only one female from each breed can be awarded points at one show. A maximum of 5 points can be won at one show. When a dog has received 10 points he is a Champion and holds the title all his life.

NOTE: If one or more dogs are disqualified, dismissed, excused or ordered from the ring by the judge, these dogs are still included as eligible dogs in the calculation for championship points.

The following chart will show how many points can be awarded to the Winners Male and the Winners Female.

 * DOGS COMPETING  1 2 3 - 5 6 - 9 10 - 12 13 & more
0 1 2 3 4 5

* Includes the dog awarded Winners

If a dog is fortunate enough to be chosen as the best of its breed, then points may be won by defeating other breeds. The more dogs defeated, the more points that may be won. Following is a chart, which shows how many points can be won.
Number of Dogs
competing at
Group Level
13 or more 5 4 3 2
10 to 12 4 3 2 1
6 to 9 3 2 1 1
5 2 1 1 1
4 2 1 1 0
3 2 1 0
2 1 0
1 0
If a dog that was awarded Winners goes on to win a Best in Show, that dog is automatically awarded 5 points.


To get information prior to entering a show, you should obtain a premium list from the Show Secretary or Superintendant of that particular show at least one month before the scheduled show date. To get the address of this individual, look in the Conformation show listing in DOGS IN CANADA magazine, or contact someone you know who is a member of the Canadian Kennel Club. This magazine is distributed to all of its members. Failing that, you may be able to find premium lists for upcoming shows at other dog shows. They are usually at the Show Secretary's table.

In the premium list you will find most of the important information that you will need to know. It gives the following:

  • dates of the shows,
  • location of the shows,
  • the deadline date that the entry forms must be in the hands of the Show Secretary,
  • the cost of the entry fees,
  • the names of the judges.
  • the names of the show officials,
  • blank entry forms,
  • plus a whole lot more.

    In order to enter a show you must fill out an entry form and mail it to the Show Secretary or Show Superintendant before the closing date (date given on the premium list).

    It is important when filling out the entry form that the information you use is identical to the information as it appears on your dog's CKC Registration Certificate. If it is not, any awards that your dog wins could be taken away.

    For example, if you call your dog "Fido", but his registered name is "Foremost's Flying Fido" the registered name is the one used on the entry form.

    It is also important to keep the correct order of owners' names, if more than one person owns the dog. The same holds true for the breeders'.

    In the end, it is safer to have the Registration certificate right in front of you when you are filling out the entry form. That way, mistakes are less likely to happen.

    Don't forget to include payment with the entry form when you mail it in. You will pay for each day and each class that you have entered your dog in.

    If you would prefer, some clubs allow owners to submit their entry form via fax or email. When this happens you must include a charge card number and expiry date. There is usually an associated fee for sending the entry in this way.


    After you have entered your dog in a show, you will be sent a Judging Schedule. This will likely arrive by mail between 2 and 7 days before the first day of the show.

    Judging schedules give the following information:

  • times that each breed is tentatively scheduled to be shown on each day of the show,
  • the ring that each breed will be shown in
  • the breakdown of numbers of each breed being shown*
  • directions to the show site, and often
  • instructions on where you can place your table, crate and exercise pen in the show grounds.
  • * On the judging schedule, the numbers that appear after the name of the breed
    (i.e., Keeshond 1-2-3-4), indicate the following:
  • number of non-champion males entered
  • number of non-champion females entered
  • number of champion males (Specials Male)
  • number of champion females (Specials Female), and
  • if there is a 5th number it usually indicates the dogs entered for (Exhibition Only)

    As a judge goes over each dog in the ring, he is comparing him/her to a mental picture of the perfect dog of that breed.

    He judges each dog on:

  • Physical structure (head, teeth, feet, amount of bone, etc.)
  • Condition (proper weight, condition of coat, muscle tone, etc.)
  • Gait as seen from front, side and rear.
  • Temperament - showmanship, personality; penalizing heavily for shyness or viciousness.


    Everyone entering a dog show should be there to have fun with their dogs. It is so important for a dog to have a pleasant, memorable experience the first time he is at at show. If the owner is nervous and upset, that attitude will go right down the lead to the dog, and he/she is very unlikely to have a good time. He/she will be more concerned with the reason for your distress. Therefore, I would like to suggest that your goal in entering a dog for his first shows, should be to make it fun. After the first couple of shows, you can start to become a little more serious about the whole thing.

    At that point people begin to take on different goals. Some go in with hopes of only obtaining a championship on their dog. Others go in hoping that they will be able to turn their dog into a competitive show dog - one that will be able to go to the Best in Group level or better.

    Regardless of your goals, please remember to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Show good sportsmanship. Go and have some fun and enjoy your dog. Life is too short to do otherwise.

    Paw Bar
    New CKC Rules,  Effective January 1, 2006.
    8.2.5  An error in the class,  date of birth or sex may be amended on the entry from up to one
    hour before the start of the show.

    8.5.8 In the case of a judge change (substitute overload) an exhibitor may enter a dog under the replacement judge providing that the dog is entered in one of the regular classes of a show being held at the same venue by the same club and has been assigned a competition number.  A new entry, along with accompanying fees,  will be accepted by the show secretary  up to one hour prior to the start of the show.  (see section 3.32, 3.51, and 8.54)
    12.2.1   12 - 18 month class has been added.
    12.3.1 All Best Puppies in the breeds judging follows the group level judging.  If a puppy is awarded a placing in  the regular group and Best Puppies in those breeds placing higher in the group level compete against that specific puppy for this award.  A  puppy awarded best puppy in group is not required to stay for best puppy in show.
    (E. & O.E.)

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