Dog shows (conformation events) are intended to evaluate breeding stock. This is done by picking the dogs that best represent the breed standard in each of the different classes. The size of these events ranges from large all-breed shows, with over 3,000 dogs entered, to small local specialty club shows, featuring a specific breed. The dog's conformation or (overall appearance and structure), an indication of the dog's ability to produce quality puppies, is judged.

There are three types of conformation dog shows:

All-breed shows offer competitions for over 150 breeds and varieties of dogs recognized by the AKC. All-breed shows are the type often shown on television.  

Specialty shows are restricted to dogs of a specific breed or to varieties of one breed. For example, the Puget Sound Norwegian Elkhound Association Specialty held annually in August is for Norwegian Elkhounds only, but the Poodle Club of America's specialty show includes the three varieties of the Poodle - Standard, Miniature and Toy.

Group shows are limited to dogs belonging to one of the seven groups. For example, the annual Western Washington Hound Association Show & Sweepstakes features only breeds belonging to the Hound group. Norwegian Elkhounds are in the Hound Group.

Which Dogs May Participate

To be eligible to compete, a dog must:

•   be individually registered with the American Kennel Club

•   be 6 months of age or older

•   be a breed for which classes are offered at a show

•   meet any eligibility requirements in the written standard for its breed

Spayed or neutered dogs are not eligible to compete in conformation classes at a dog show, because the purpose of a dog show is to evaluate breeding stock.

How a Dog Show Works

Each dog presented to a judge is exhibited ("handled") by its owner, breeder or a hired professional. The role of a handler is similar to that of a jockey who rides a horse around the track and, hopefully, into the winner's circle.

Most dogs in competition at conformation shows are competing for points toward their AKC championships. It takes fifteen points, including two majors (wins of three, four or five points) awarded by at least three different judges, to become an American Kennel Club "Champion of Record."

The number of championship points awarded at a show depends on the number of males ("dogs") and females ("bitches") of the breed actually in competition. The larger the entry, the greater the number of points a male or a female can win. The maximum number of points awarded to a dog at any show is 5 points. Males and females compete separately within their respective breeds, in seven regular classes. The following classes are offered, and are divided by sex:

How Do I Get Started Showing My Dog?

The best place to start is by joining a local kennel club, whether an all-breed kennel club or a breed-specific specialty club. If you own or wish to own and show a Norwegian Elkhound please contact us,

PSNEA can help you find information on training classes for the show ring, and for obedience and agility classes. Even if the show ring is not your ultimate goal, the relationship that training forms between you and your dog will be very rewarding to you both. Local clubs also have "Matches" where you and your dog can test your skill in the ring.

Handling your dog is an exceptional and enjoyable experience. From the grooming table to the show ring, you and your dog will develop a bond. While training classes offer the best hands-on way to practice for the show ring, attending shows and observing your breed is also a great way to gain an understanding of what judges and other competitors do.

If you do not wish to handle your dog yourself, you may have a friend or family member do it. Many owners hire a professional handler to show their dog.

You're on your way!

You are entering a sport that will bring many hours of enjoyment and education to every member of your family. You will make many friends in the sport and will enjoy your dog and your new hobby for many years to come.