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Dog Show Terminology

By Paige
Dog Show

Image from Van Felt

The world of dog shows is a large & varied one. Each breed often promoting their own more specialized shows as well. However there are some general terms that are fairly universally recognized regardless breeds.

Defining Dog Shows

We wanted to put together a basic list of terminology that will help those who want a basic understanding of the industry. We’ve written them in laymen’s terms and hope they are easy to understand & follow.


Please let us know in the comments if we are missing anything crucial.

Registration Certificate
An official document from one of the breed registries that establishes an animal as part of their registry. It lists all of the important information about the animal including name, date whelped, sire, dam, etc. All show dogs must be registered with the registry of their breed.

Displays the lineage of a purebred animal & generally goes back four generations. However some breeders issue five or six generation pedigrees.

The person (or people) whose name(s) are on the registration certificate as the animal’s official owner.

The person who owns or leases the pack and the dam at the time she is bred. (Not necessarily the person who owns the pack when it is whelped).

Means give birth to.

Novice Class
A class for dogs six months or over that have not won three 1st prizes in the novice, bred by exhibitor, American bred or open class or earned one or more points towards championships. Dogs must be whelped in Canada or the US to be eligible.

Bred by Exhibitor Class
A class for all dogs (except champions) who are over six months & owned by the person who is recorded as the breeder. Animals may only be shown by the breeder or a member of their immediate family.

All Breed Club
Must be a member of the American Kennel Club or licensed by the American Kennel Club and allowed to hold an all-breeds show. Most large shows are held by all-breed clubs.

Specialty Club
Formed for the improvement of a specific purebred dog and may hold specialty shows & trials for that breed.

Specialty Show
A show held by a specialty club for one specific breed at which championship points can be won. Can be held in conjunction with an all-breed show or as it’s own event.

American Bred Class
A class for all dogs (except champions) older than six months which were whelped in the US as the result of a breeding in the US.

Open Class
A class for all dogs older than six months.

Winners Class
When an animal wins any five regular classes they are automatically eligible to compete in the winners class. There is no entry fee for this class.

Sanctioned Match
May be held at any club or association and is an informal meeting where purebred dogs can compete but will not win championship points.

Point Show
Also called an all-breed show, this is a show where championship points are awarded.

Puppy Match
A sanctioned match that is limited to puppies and generally a social event where puppies are exhibited.

Sponsored Entry
When a specialty club sponsors the entry of their breed in an all-breed show and offer additional prize money or trophies.

Best of Variety
For breeds who recognize a variety of types the winner of each variety is called best of variety instead of best of breed. Each variety is essentially treated as a breed

A judge’s assistant who attends to the judge by gathering class awards, marking results and keeping the judge updated.

A specific unit of the whole show, there are a wide variety of classes. Each one has its own rules & regulations for entry.

Puppy Class
A class for animals who are over six months and under twelve months of age and only open to puppies whelped in Canada or the US.

Defining More

We don’t plan to stop there as it’s good knowledge to possess. If you like this you might also enjoy learning a little more about dog movement terminology.

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