If you are new to showing dogs, and want help with understanding what dog shows are all about, please read the sections below which may help to de-mystify the world of dog showing for you.
Showing Your Dog
Showing a dog often seems to the new dog owner like something only a dog breeder or someone seriously ‘into’ dogs would do, but in fact it can be quite fun and is a good way to meet others who own the same kind of dog that you have. Part of the mystique is all the jargon: ‘He just needs one ticket’, terms such as ‘I put her in Graduate’, and abbreviations like AVNSC that get bandied about. Once these are explained (or translated), the show scene is much more straightforward.There are several kinds of dog show. For example, Limited, Open and Championship; some with quite different types of competition. All shows are held under the Kennel Club’s Rules and Regulations.
In the following explanations the term ‘dog’ is used to refer to animals of either sex, unless the context clearly relates to males, in which case ‘bitches’ are also separately mentioned.
Most people who are new to showing will start showing at the Open Show level to get their dog used to the show atmosphere and use it as a training ground for both themselves and the dog, so they both know what to expect, before giving a Championship Show a try.
Dogs can be entered for competition at a show from the age of 6 month. Under KC rules, it is allowed for puppies from the age of 4 months to attend many shows, and whilst they must be ‘entered’ to go to the show, they cannot be entered for competition – the actual entry form must show them as Not for Competition (NFC). This applies to our own Club shows too.
At breed shows there are different classes to enter within each breed. These classes are each based on age and experience of the dog being shown, and usually, but not always, the sex of the dog. There is are clearly defined eligibility criteria for each class. For example:
Puppy: For dogs of 6 and not exceeding 12 calendar months of age on the first day of the Show.
Post Graduate: For dogs which have not won a Challenge Certificate or 5 or more First Prizes at Championship Shows in Post Graduate, Minor Limit, Mid Limit and Open Classes where restricted or not where Challenge Certificates were offered for the breed.
Open: For all dogs of the breeds for which the class is provided and eligible for entry at the Show
There may also be special breed classes, such as those for dogs who have gained their Bronze, Silver or Gold awards in the KC Good Citizen Dog Scheme.
Where a breed does not have their own specific breed classes at a show, there are also Any Variety Not Separately Classified (AVNSC) classes, which you can enter. At Open Show level, Wheaten Terriers often don’t have their own breed classes, so these may be the classes you have to look out for.
All KC Rules & Regulations, and class definitions, will be shown in the schedule for each show, which will also include the entry form. These can be found either when visiting other shows, or by going on line to sites such as Fosse Data or Higham Press.
Dogs compete against the other entries in their class, and the unbeaten winners of each class then compete against the other unbeaten class winners for the best dog challenge. If the sexes are split into their own classes, then the Best Dog and Best Bitch will compete for the Best of Breed.
You will hear the terms Challenge Certificate or Tickets around the show rings. These are awarded to the Best Dog and Best Bitch at Championship Shows. When a dog has won three of these Challenge Certificates (these must be from three separate judges, and one must be when the dog is over 12 month), the dog will then become a Champion.
The Best of Breeds then each compete against the same in the other breeds in their ‘Group’ – for Wheatens that’s Terriers. Then the Best in each Group, compete for the Best in Show award.
You many also find at some shows that the Best Puppy and the Best Veteran in each Breed, compete in the same way for the Best Puppy in Show, and Best Veteran in Show awards.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of GB Shows
Our Club holds three shows each year.
* Open Show South
* Open Show North
* Club Championship Show
These shows are only for pedigree Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, but they are open to our Members and Non-Members alike.
The two Open Shows are less formal events, though they are still held under the KC Rules & Regulations, and many people who are new to showing find this is a great way to make their first venture into the show ring.
The Championship Show is the big annual Club event, and where you will see the best of the best of the Breed in the show ring. But don’t let than put you off. We aim to keep it a friendly and welcoming atmosphere to all exhibitors and their dogs. No matter what their experience in the ring.
There will always be people there to guide you and keep you on the right track.
Schedules for all our Club Shows are announced on the Club website and can be downloaded from here – see Events section. If when they are available, you prefer a paper copy, please contact the Show Secretary and one will be sent to you.
There is nothing stopping you jumping in at the deep end and going straight to a big Championship Show. But it is not to be recommended, especially for the faint-hearted.
What many people who are new to showing find easier, is to build up their knowledge and skills first, not to mention their dog’s confidence, to this world of showing, by doing some training first.
Ringcraft Clubs and the classes they run, are a great way to start. These are classes where more experienced show people can show you how to handle your dog, so you get the best of him when he is in the ring and in front of the judge. They will help to get the dog used to being “gone over” by a judge – where the judge puts his hands on the dog to assess the dog’s conformation. They will show you how to move your dog around the ring correctly, so you know what to do when you are in the ring. It is all about building confidence for both you and your dog.
Some Ringcraft Clubs will also hold Match Nights, where they invite a guest judge to come along and assess the dogs – a practice show if you like.
You will also find these Clubs are a great source of local Open Show information and schedules, which means when you feel ready to take the plunge, you will have an idea of what shows are taking place locally to you. Most likely, many of those at your classes will be going to these Shows as well, so you will have the support of your Club members on the day.
If you have no one local to you who can recommend a local Ringcraft Club in your area, The Kennel Club have a Find A Dog Club facility on their website, where you will be able to find Ringcraft Clubs near you.
Why not give showing a try? It can be fun and enjoyable, and you get to meet like minded Wheaten Terrier owners and their dogs. You never know you may even have a future Crufts Champion on your hands!
No matter what happens at any show, win or lose, always remember that at the end of the day, we each take the best Wheaten Terrier home!