When we think of conformation shows we tend to think of Crufts and the Westminister dog show. We think about one of the dogs being chosen for best in the show. But what exactly is confirmation showing? How does it work? Why is it a thing? Let’s take a look and find out these questions and more!
In its most basic form, confirmation showing is judging between dogs based on how closely the dogs meet their breed standard. Each purebred dog has a standard. The standard consists of information like general appearance, size, proportion, head, neck, topline, body, hindquarters, coat, color, gait, temperament, and any major disqualifiers. There are many things in the standard that can be taken slightly differently from one judge to the next.
Each dog in a given breed is then judged by their standard. The dog is shown by a handler. It is the handler's job to show the best qualities of the dog. Making sure that the dog is bathed, brushed, and in top condition before entering the show ring. Once in the ring, the handler is there to make sure that the dog shows their best self. The handler must also walk away and then back toward the judge with the dog and keep up with the dog's natural gait. The handler should be invisible and just do their best to show the best qualities of the dog.
Judging is done tournament style. The first part of judging takes place with all the same breed and the same gender of dog. The next round consists of the winning male and female of the same breed. Then the winner moves to be shown with the group that their breed is associated with. For instance the herding group, sporting group, hound group, etc. The winners of this round are then shown for the chance to win the best in the show! For the best in show round, the dogs that won in each group round compete against each other for best in show.
In the end, one dog goes home as best in show.
Well, this is a pretty exclusive dog activity that only allows purebred dogs that have a standard with the kennel club that is organizing the show. Now, on occasion, these kennel clubs do accept new breeds. However, they do not accept mixed or “designer breeds.” So, confirmation showing is pretty exclusive.
So, why would you want to do a confirmation showing? What are the benefits? Well, it's true, conformation showing is not like most dog sports that offer jumping, sniffing, chasing, or other ways to burn a lot of energy. However, the benefits are often further reaching than just benefiting your dog.
You see when a dog lives up to the standard of its breed you have a very well-bred dog. Why is this important? Well, all purebred dogs were developed for a reason, to heard, to be a gun dog, to hunt, to be a lap warmer, but they all had a specific purpose. A standard was then created to solidify the breed as a breed, to make it consistent and recognizable. That standard takes into consideration the temperament, size and build, gait, coat, and health that help that particular breed perform it’s a job the best.
So, when a dog earns best in the show or even best of breed, that dog is the dog that best meets the standard. This is the dog that should be bred to continue the breed in the right direction, to keep the breed to the standard.
Again breeding a breed of dog to a standard is not a bad thing. The standard is why you can look at a dog and say “well that’s a Golden Retriever.” Or “look it’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.” the standard helps to keep each breed distinctive, healthy, structurally sound, and ready to serve it’s the original purpose, whatever that might be.
Yes, your dog can earn titles if he wins enough in the show ring. Dogs earn points every time they win the best of the breed, best of the group, and best in the show. Once the points add up enough, the dog will then have Champion at the beginning of its name. If the dog continues to win and gain more points he may even earn, the much-coveted, Grand Champion.
Conformation showing is not for everyone but rather only for recognized purebred dogs. Purebred dogs with a standard. The dogs of any given breed are judged according to that standard to keep the breed as close to the same across the board as possible. This helps to ensure the breed will be consistently the same in temperament, size, structurally soundness, healthy, and ablity to perform it’s an original job.