Sporting dogs. Hound dogs. Working dogs. Terriers. Toy dogs. Non-sporting dogs. Herding dogs. As a dog owner, dog breeder, dog groomer, or a general dog lover, you’re probably familiar with these seven dog competitions and their groupings. The AKC (American Kennel Association) has sorted all pure, AKC-recognized dog breeds into these categories for events.
Looking for the best event that showcases pups of all shapes and sizes? Look no further. Check out our list of the top dog competitions in the U.S.A.!
1. The National Dog Show
Every Thanksgiving, thousands of families across the U.S. gather around their TVs to watch the National Dog Show. It’s on right after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s the best part of Thanksgiving to many Americans!
This competition is also known as The Kennel Club of Philadelphia Dog Show, started way back in 1879! It has a long, beloved history of showing and competing the best dogs in the country.
All seven of the breed categories are represented, competing in their own events to find the best of each. But the televised portion only shows snippets of those events. The main televised event is when the Best of Breed of each category compete for Best of Show.
Aren’t sure what all the breed categories mean or include? Here’s a comprehensive list with examples:
- Sporting — hunting and field dogs. German Shorthaired Pointers, Cocker Spaniels
- Hound — hunting, smelling dogs. Basset Hounds, Beagles
- Working — guard, work, and rescue dogs. Bernese Mountain Dogs, Dobermann Pinschers
- Terriers — small prey hunting, guard dogs. Irish Terriers, Bull Terriers
- Toy — companion dogs. King Cavaliers, Chihuahuas
- Non-Sporting — varying types and breeds, “miscellaneous.” Dalmations, French Bulldogs
- Herding — herding, farm dogs. Border Collie, German Shepherd
This dog competition is the most popular in America. If you’re looking for a must-see, this is it!
2. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
This historic Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the second oldest and most consistent sporting event in the country, right behind the Kentucky Derby! Held in New York City, this competition draws over 3,000 entrees every year.
You get to see all of the entered dogs displayed on the bench. It takes two full days because of the incredible number of entrees. What better pastime for a dog lover?
Whether you want to see Australian Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, adorable Corgis, American Pitbulls, Cane Corsos, Boston Terriers, Miniature Poodles, or Akitas, never fear. You can see them all at the Westminster competition!
The 2019 Best of Show winner was a Wire Fox Terrier named Kingarthur Van Foliny Home. (As you’ve probably noticed, in the dog show world, pups tend to have long, impressive, often unusual names!)
Dogs are judged based on obedience, attitude/temperament, and gait (how they walk). Physically, they’re judged based on industry-set standards: in other words, there’s a “right” way each breed “should” look. That includes eye color, tail length, hair color, length, and thickness, body proportions (like face shape), and weight.
For example, some German Shorthaired Pointers are black and white. Others are white with brown patches. The industry standard, however, is brown and white with liver spots: only GSPs who are brown and white with liver spots can compete.
Grooming is a crucial part of the competition. How a dog’s hair is cut and styled can make or break its placing. If you’re a groomer looking for expansion, check out this article all about it.
But don’t worry, all you mixed-breed or non-AKC-standard dog lovers out there! The Westminster show has a special athletic event where any dog can compete, including mutts! The winner claims the title “All-American Dog.”
3. Houston World Series of Dog Competitions
The Houston World Series of Dog Shows is all about showcasing purebred dogs. It’s important to inform the public about the benefits of pure breeding, which is the aim of this show.
This competition is more relaxed and free-spirited than others. The five-day event includes the following activities:
- Designer Doghouse Competition
- Confirmation/Breed Judging
- Obedience and Rally event
- Breed Standard Grooming
- Weight Pull
- Barn Hunts 1, 2, 3
- Frisbee Exhibition
- AKC’s “My Dog Can Do That”
- Canine Musical Freestyle
- “Houston’s Rescues Have Talent”
- Creative Dog Grooming Contests
- Meet the Breeds
- Group/Best in Show Judging
So many fun, entertaining, and informative activities to attend! Perhaps the most exciting is the Houston World Series of Dog Show’s proud Meet the Breeds event.
The public can actually meet the dogs and breeders up close! This gives you a chance to learn and experience firsthand why purebred dogs and pure breeding are so important.
You can also ask questions about dog breeds that you’ve been wondering. As a dog owner, potential dog owner, or dog business owner, this is an invaluable opportunity to speak openly with handlers about the pros and cons of certain breeds.
The show is inclusive, though, because they have multiple events and booths set up for rescues, specifically. In fact, there are rescue booths open every day of the series.
You Won’t Regret Attending Any of These Dog Competitions in the U.S.
Adorable Chow Chows, gorgeous Weimaraners, impressive Newfoundlands, and brilliant Sheepdogs. See them all at these well-rounded, popular, and historic dog competitions around the U.S.!
You’ll see (and sometimes even meet!) smart and beautiful dogs and learn tremendously valuable information. There’s so much to glean from the competitions, the judges, the breeders, and the dogs themselves.
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