AKC Dog show event information

An overview of AKC dog show events that cover more than just conformation and obedience.


There is a popular image many people have of dog shows.

These images often include snooty handlers with high strung, mentally lacking, pure bred dogs.

Others remember the images Hollywood has painted in movies. Most will remember the Disney classic “The Ugly Dachshund” and the story of  “Lad; A Dog.”  These movies portrayed dogs competing in conformation and obedience. The sad thing is, the majority of people don’t realize how much more a dog show will offer.

There will always be conformation classes where dogs are judged by the accepted AKC standards of form and temperament. These classes will have a single judge standing in the ring and he will judge the each dog against others of the same breed.

“Obedience” is when each dog is judged against a scorecard. Each level of class will have preset commands such as sit, down, stay, come and heal which a dog must obey quickly.

In addition to these, many shows will offer any or all of the following:

“Field Trials/Hunting Tests” – Field trials are demonstrations of a dog of a certain breed showing an ability to perform the activity for which it was bred. These trials are open to retrievers, spaniels, Beagles, Basset Hounds, pointing breeds and Dachshunds. The dogs entered must be over six months of age and registered with the AKC.

“Lure Coursing” – This is open to sight hounds such as Greyhounds, Afghans, Whippets, Borzoi, Irish Wolfhounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Scottish Deerhounds and Salukis. They are termed sight hounds because they follow by sight not scent. In the lure coursing the dogs must able to pass AKC breed standards and over one year of age. During the tests, an artificial lure is pulled through an open field and the dogs must follow it while being tested for speed, agility and enthusiasm.

“Herding Tests” – These trials are open to any breed that is listed in the “herding group” as well as Rottweillers and Samoyeds. Each dog is tested on their ability to herd a group of animals by obeying the commands of their handler. Any livestock such as sheep, cattle or goats can be used as well as ducks and geese. Many will find it a beautiful site to watch a Collie or German Shepherd’s instinct take over and start rounding up the herd. Others will find it amazing to see a short, stocky Corgi taking on the task of grouping sheep or goats that are many times the size of the dog.

“Earthdog Tests” – Highly entertaining trials designed for breeds which were originally bred to chase their quarry into dens or tunnels. When an earthdog pursues its quarry or adversary into these tunnels it is called “going to ground.” Dogs must be at least six months of age and either Dachshund or of a small terrier breed. Examples of these terrier breeds are Australian; Border, Dandie Dinmont as well as both smooth and wire Fox. Other terriers include the Jack Russells, Scottish, Silky, Skye, Welsh and West Highland Whites (Westies).

Usually the test involves two adult rats in a cage (for their protection) hidden in a “den” hidden in a tunnel that the dog must hunt out. The speed and quality of digging is often awe inspiring while the enthusiasm these little dogs show for their work is a priceless piece of entertainment.

“Agility Trials” – Agility is one of the newest events to AKC shows. It is open to any and all purebred dogs, which are over one year of age. Dogs in this event must be able to travel an obstacle course that includes such things as stopping on command, jumping over as well as through objects, traveling a set course of poles by weaving between them and walking over bridges.

These tests and trials all have titles that can be awarded to the dogs but some shows will also have demonstrations in weight pulls or sledding ability.