North American Kennel Club

North American Kennel Club

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Showing Your Dog

    So you've just bought your first purebred dog. It's already a champion in your eyes but you've determined your going to give showing a try. First and foremost it takes some travel, some cash, and a love of dogs and people.  Second don't expect to be an overnight sensation, but enjoy the excitement of showing, and learn from handlers and dogs in the ring with you.
    To properly show you must remember you are presenting your dog to be judged by its standard. Thus, you should wear proper attire. The better you look, the better your dog looks. Generally speaking jeans and T-shirts are out.
    Make sure your dog is washed and groomed prior to the show and you have a choker and lead available. (Prong collars, wide leather collars are not acceptable) Make sure you are at the show site early and have registered for all shows you want. Your armband is placed on your left arm, and must be visible for ring stewards and judges, to view at all times.
    When your breed is called, stay ready at ringside. When asked to enter, listen carefully and follow the stewards instructions as to where to stand and place your dog.

Stacking and Showing your dog
Depending on the breed standard, some things may vary, but generally there are many basic similarities.
    To "stack", square the front legs up straight under the shoulders, make sure the paws are as straight as possible neither turned inwards or outwards. Back legs are placed far enough back to achieve proper angulation of the stifles as required by your standard. Put the choker behind the dogs ears at the top of the neck, this will allow you better control of your dog.
   The judge will give you instructions, follow them carefully but relax, as your dog will feel your stress through the lead. Remember this is supposed to be fun! Chewing gum will help to keep the smell of fear in your breath hidden from your dog. You should keep your dog on the left at all times. When the judge asks to see the bite, they would like to view the teeth, front first, then both sides. They will touch the dog and ensure proper muscle and bone development to the standard. When the judge moves on to the next dog try to keep your dog "stacked" as he/she may glance over to compare.
    You will be sent in different patterns inside the ring, and the judge will tell you how they would like the dog to move (slower at a walk or faster at a trot). Some of things the judge can ask for you to do is "a triangle", "a diagonal" or "all the way around" and they are really quite straight forward. For a triangle you will go straight up, than across and than back down to the judge on the diagonal, where you will stop when the judge tells you and you try to present your dog to the judge with as good of an appearance as possible. You may not have time to stack your dog at this time. The diagonal means you go down and back on the diagonal and again stop when the judge tells you to and present your dog to the judge as best you can. All the way around means just that you go all the way around the ring and stop when and where the judge tells you to.  The dogs will be placed according to the judges opinion and ribbons awarded.

Congratulations, you've just finished your first show!!!!

Show Handling Tips
Written By Eveanne Schiavo, a Neapolitan Mastiff Breeder

Showing a dog can be extremely fun and exciting but it can also be a nerve racking situation even if you have experience. I hope the following suggestions can help make your exhibiting experiences a little bit easier. The showing of dogs is considered a sport it has developed in our country for the past one hundred years. Please remember that the sport of showing dogs is one of the few professional sports that an amateur person can participate in.

Conditioning Your Dog From Day One: The purpose of dogs was not meant to be pranced around a confirmation show ring, this is not to say it can not be done but you have to train the dog to feel comfortable with the routine. It also helps when you have a temperament that is more conducive to showing, (there are some great dogs that just do not show well). You must get your pup when properly vaccinated to a breed handling class, you will also need to practice every day or every other day. Most dogs require socialization the show dog requires even more so get the dog out in public as much as possible. You need to get your pup used to traveling, (start with short trips) and being in a crate, (never leave your dog unsupervised in a crate at a show). One important factor is showing the dogs bite, time & time again a good dog will loose due to a refusal of showing the bite and teeth. Start as soon as you get your pup every day go over the pup's body, gently open the pup's mouth in the front always say the word teeth when you open the mouth, then move from side to side opening the jowls top & bottom, never force the pup, after time they won't care if there is trust.

Breed Handling Class: If your planning on showing your dog breed handling classes are critical. It is recommended that you get your pup into class as soon as you feel the puppy has had enough vaccines to protect them. Finding a breed handling class can be difficult for those people who live in rural areas. The following suggestion will hopefully help you with this endeavor. Contact the AKC and ask for breed clubs in your area or state, contact the breed clubs and ask where they train. Go to shows or fun match shows in your area and ask where they are training their dogs. Call dog training schools in your area or state and ask them if they know of any breed handling classes available. Call any breeders who are showing dogs in your area or state and ask them if they are aware of a training facility. Last but not least if all else fails consider organizing dog people in your area, this will at least condition your dog to be sociable.

Dress Code: I can not begin to express the importance of proper attire to exhibitors, yes your there to have your dog judged but the judge has to get passed you first before he gets to your dog. Next time your showing or at a show take note when the judge approaches you or the person showing is he or she looking at the dog or you first. Dressing properly is showing the judge respect. There are advantages and disadvantages to wearing the right cloths for showing. Here are some of the do's & don'ts. Do’s: Wear solid colors that compliment your dogs color, example; grey dog, wear dark colors, black dog wear medium to light colors. The man who wears the shirt and tie will usually have the advantage, like it or not. It helps to wear a clean shoe or sneaker with good traction to prevent a spill. Don'ts: It is recommended that you not wear loud colors or clothing. I would recommend that you not wear a piece of clothing that is to busy with a pattern it will detract the judges eye from your dog to you. Do not wear a linear horizontal print your giving the judge a gauge to go by. You should never wear jeans, tee shirts, sweat shirts, shorts, work boots, cloths that are stained or ripped.

Collars & Leads: You should only use a lead that is no longer then 36 inches. I recommend for the Neapolitan Mastiff the 36" Nylon Handlers Show lead, once connected it becomes totally one with the collar, unless your dog pulls the lead out of your hand you'll never loose the dog to a faulty clasp. I recommend for neck sizes 26" and smaller the Hexagon collars, you will have more control and it looks better on the dogs neck, they are strong. Always use leads and collars with secure clasps or connections. Never use a prong collar. You should never use a leather collar.

One of the keys to success is to be prepared a head of time, if your not rushed you'll be less nervous. Remember your arm is the telephone line to your emotion, your dog will pick up on what your feeling so try and relax and remember win or not you love your dog. Now let's run you through some basic's on what to expect in the ring. Remember every judge has there own way of doing things. * Always be a polite exhibitor*

Always be standing close enough to the ring so that when your arm band number is called out you are ready to enter the ring. Tardiness is quietly frowned upon by the judge & other exhibitors it's a sign of disrespect. Do not block the entrance of the ring allow exhibitors to enter and exit without any interference.

Always have a drool towel to keep your dogs mouth dry & clean. Judges do not appreciate your dogs drool all over their hands so wipe your dogs mouth when the judge wants to inspect the dogs bite.

You will enter the ring and be expected to stack (refer to terminology) your dog in a straight line. Always keep one eye on the judge and one eye on the dog so to speak Always pay attention to what the judge wants and what is going on around you in the ring.

Some judges might approach you to examine the dog or some might prefer for you to go around the ring once.

When the judge comes to examine your dog they usually will look at the dog, then ask you to show the bite. Showing The Dogs Bite: There are judges who will ask if they can touch the dog or open the dogs mouth, I prefer to show the dogs bite only due to limiting the spread of germs. However I will tell you that some judges could get offended by preferring to do it yourself (I will take that chance for the well being of my dog). First open the front of the dogs mouth to show the bite (meaning the jaw should be closed), then move to each side of the dogs mouth lift the dogs jowls to show if the dog has all their teeth. The judge will examine the rest of the dog, if it's a male some judges unfortunately feel the need to feel the testicles to make sure there are two.

 There are basic movements in the ring, but learn all the movements that the judges might ask you to do (refer to Basic's In The Ring). You will be asked to go around the ring, this means move your dog around the ring. If you are moving around the ring in a group and you find your dog is moving to slow move in a little for other exhibitors to pass you, if your moving fast try and slow your dog down or pass on the out side. If you can always pay attention to your dogs movement You will be asked to most likely to do a triangle (refer to Basic's In The Ring) and you could be asked to go down and back which means go away from the judge in a straight line turn around and come back.

After every one has gone around and finished their routine the judge has a good feel of who is going to place in which position. Pay attention your most likely standing with your dog stacked one last time for the last glance.

Now the judge is picking out the dogs for placement. No matter what happens good or bad it is good sportsmanship to congratulate the winners or be gracious if you win. Always thank the judge before leaving the ring.

Don’t Ever Get Discouraged! Remember One Day, One Show, One Judge & One Opinion!


Judge: The person who is judging the dog.

Steward: The person in the ring aiding the judge.

 Exhibitor, Agent or Handler: The person handling the dog in the ring.

Professional Handler: A person who usually gets paid to show a dog.

Bait: Usually this is a treat, some times toys are used to get the dogs attention. Never throw your bait and then not pick it up off the floor.

Stacking The Dog: This is a standing position where the judge can fully examine your dog.

The following diagrams represent the direction of movement a judge will ask of you in the ring.


Figure 1: This movement is considered down and back.
Figure 2: This movement is considered to the corner and back.
Figure 3: This movement is considered a triangle.
Figure 4: This movement is considered an ‘L’.
Figure 5: This movement is considered a ‘T’.
Figure 6: This movement is considered a circle.

It is very important to focus and know where your judge is at all times. When moving around in the ring try and keep your dogs movement as straight as possible so the judge can judge the dog accurately. When you are moving along with your dog stay lined up with the front shoulder of the animal. Always hold the lead in your left hand unless you are asked to do an ‘L’ or a ‘T’, (Figure 4 & 5) in these situations you have to, change hands so that the dog is always on the judges side. You should always pay attention to what's going on around you in the ring. If you are first in line and are asked to go around the ring in a circle, you should ask the person behind you “are you ready”, if so move out. If someone is ahead of you make sure you leave them and yourself enough room so that you don't run them over, but never leave a big gap between you and the next person. If your dog is moving slower then the dog behind you move towards the inside so that they may pass you. A helpful suggestion if you have a reputable, clean breed handling class near you take full advantage of what they have to offer, remember, you can go into the ring with the most beautiful Neapolitan Mastiff but if his or her behavior is poor or your not handling the dog properly, you can not expect the judge to exam the animal properly.

*NOTE TO ALL DOG OWNERS: It is important to remember whether you're in the show ring or walking around the show grounds with your dog to keep him or her on a short leash. Never allow direct eye contact or close body contact with another dog. Mishaps are occurring at shows due to a owners inexperience or it may be just a case of just plain irresponsibility. Injury to you and your dog can be avoided, just pay attention to your dog at all times!