Dog Shows 101

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Did you watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last week and wonder what it was all about? If so, you’re in good company. For dog lovers, events like Westminster can be entertaining but hard to decipher. Read on for a basic introduction to the world of dog shows!

The essential principal behind dog shows is to evaluate breeding stock. The qualities looked for in a particular breed will be the qualities desired in coming generations. Each breed has a “standard,” created by its parent club, which describes the ideal features of the breed in question. Usually the standard relates back to the purpose for which the dog was originally bred and the physical characteristics that were best suited for that purpose. For example, beagles were bred as sturdy hunting dogs. As such, their winning physical characteristics are ones that make them able to keep up with hunters, such as straight front legs, muscular hips and thighs, a medium-length  coat, and a jaunty tail.

The breeds are classified into seven different categories: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, and herding. They are judged among other dogs in these categories. During the famous Best in Show competition, the judges takes one winner from each of these seven categories and choose an ultimate “best in show” dog.

There’s much more to learn about the complex world of dog shows, so if you’re interested, check out the websites cited in this article:

“Dog Show 101.” The Westminster Kennel Club. Web. 13 February 2014.  <http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/aboutdogs/aboutdogshows.html>

“AKC Breeds: Complete Breed List.” American Kennel Club. Web. 13 February 2014. <https://www.akc.org/breeds/complete_breed_list.cfm>

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