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A Brief Insight into the British Show Scene

I write this resume to help novices and overseas enthusiasts understand what might initially seem a minefield of confusion as to our showing system in the U.K.

I know when we first ventured to Exemption and Open shows around 25 years ago, for an initial "look-see", we were so green and confused that we didn't even have any idea what the colours of the rosettes were supposed to represent! We learned fast, by trial and error, but mainly by WATCHING and LISTENING. It all seems a little old hat these days, I guess, but at the time we wouldn't have dreamed of diving in at the deep end or voicing our opinions, particularly to whom we considered the doyens of the breed.

Today things are very different, with total novices launching themselves as judges within a couple of years on the scene as exhibitors, and a surprising number of "experts" having learned it all within a remarkably short time. May be I'm just becoming cynical in my old age! At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, Open Shows seem to be the first shows that newer exhibitors encounter these days, preferring presumably to forego the learning process of the lower, but still very valuable, grass roots of the show scene. I still cannot come to terms with the attitude of some folk these days who appear to beetle off home as soon as their class is over. Is a lot learned, I wonder....?

Even at the lowest rung of the ladder the types of shows that are held within Britain have to obtain permission from the Kennel club, assuming they are "beauty" shows, that is. There are other types of shows, i.e., fun Terrier and Lurcher club shows that are not held under kennel Club jurisdiction.

The Show Scene

EXEMPTION SHOW:
The first Kennel Club recognised show is the Exemption Show, which is particularly well supported, usually held in conjunction with local fetes, galas and fund-raising events. Registered Canine Societies may not hold Exemption Shows. Only four classes for pedigree dogs are allowed, the rest usually consisting of "dog with the waggiest tail" and "dog most like it's owner!" etc.

SANCTION SHOW:
Next level of show was the Sanction Show, now sadly defunct. These shows were confined to one breed with only the lower classification classes offered. These shows were perfect to launch puppies onto the formal show scene.

LIMITED SHOWS:
Limited Shows fall into much the same category as Sanction Shows, being shows that are limited to members of the society promoting the show. C.C. winners are not eligible.

OPEN SHOWS:
Onto the next rung - Open Shows, which as they suggest, are open to all exhibitors, irrespective of the dog's age or previous wins. These are held throughout the year, some holding all-breeds classes of 300 and upwards. Others are confined to Breed Club Open Shows, generally having a dozen or so split classes for each sex.

CHAMPIONSHIP SHOWS:
At the top of the ladder are the Championship Shows, some All-Breeds and others staged by Breed Clubs. Only one of these shows is allowed by each Club or Society per year, and again are open to all Kennel Club registered stock. The only exception is Crufts, the Kennel Club's own show, and they control their own entry. This I shall go into in further depth later. Championship Shows are held on much the same lines as Open Shows, with the exception that is, of course, Kennel club Challenge Certificates are on offer. Judges at these shows have to be K.C. approved and passed. These C.C.'s are highly prized, three certificates under three different judges being required to add that magical title - CHAMPION before your dog's name. This might sound a bit of a doddle, but in this country with huge entries in most classes, it is certainly easier said than done!!
Some of these shows have up to around fifteen classes per sex, some classes in excess of 30 dogs. Certain classes are defined either by age or by previous wins, for which dogs could be ineligible. The only exception is the Open Class, which as the name suggests, is open to all. At all Championship Shows the unbeaten Dog C.C. winner and unbeaten Bitch C.C. winner then challenge for Best of Breed. At Championship Club Shows, assuming there is only one breed, that Best of Breed winner is then declared Best in Show. At All-Breeds Championship Shows this Best of Breed then goes forward to represent it's breed in the Group Challenge. These Groups fall into 6 categories: Hound, Terrier, Gundog, Toy, Utility and quite recently Working (by far the largest Group) shortly to be split into either Pastoral or Working.

These Group winners then challenge for Best in Show. The Best Puppy in Breed winner goes through much the same system at a number of the All-Breeds Championship Shows, to declare Best Puppy in Show.

Cruft's the Kennel Club's own Championship Show differs somewhat from ordinary Championship Shows in as much that one has to qualify either by means of the previous years' wins (including a 1st prize at the previous years' Crufts) or by obtaining a Stud Book Number. To qualify by wins means that your dog has to win at least a first, second or third in Minor Puppy, Puppy, Junior, Post Graduate, Limit or Open classes at championship Shows. The other qualifier is the Stud Book Number, which means a First, Second or Third in Limit or Open, a C.C. or Reserve C.C. win. These Stud Book Numbers enable a compound life qualifier for your dog to Crufts.

Featured below is a full list of all the classes, along with their criteria, that are possible.
CLASS QUALIFICATION
Minor Puppy For dogs of six and not exceeding nine calendar months of age on the first day of the show.
Puppy For dogs of six and not exceeding twelve calendar months of age on the first day of the show.
Junior For dogs of six and not exceeding eighteen calendar months of age on the first day of the show.
Maiden For dogs which have not won a first Prize at any show (Puppy, Special Puppy, Minor Puppy and Special Minor Puppy Classes excepted).
Novice For dogs which have not won three or more First Prizes at any show or shows (Puppy, Special Puppy, Minor Puppy and Special Minor Puppy Classes excepted).
Tyro For dogs which have not won five or more First Prizes at any shows (Puppy, Special Puppy, Minor Puppy and Special Minor Puppy Classes excepted).
Debutant For dogs which have not won a first Prize at an open or Championship Show (Puppy, Special Puppy, Minor Puppy and Special Minor Puppy Classes excepted).
Undergraduate For dogs which have not won three or more First Prizes at Open or Championship Shows (Puppy, Special Puppy, Minor Puppy and Special Minor Puppy classes excepted).
Graduate For dogs which have not won four or more First Prizes at Open or Championship Shows in Graduate, Post Graduate, Minor Limit, Mid Limit, Limit and Open Classes whether restricted or not.
Post Graduate For dogs which have not won five or more First Prizes at Open and Championship Shows in Post Graduate, Minor Limit, Limit and Open Classes, whether restricted or not.
Minor Limit For dogs which have not won three or more First Prizes at Open or Championship Shows in Minor Limit, Mid Limit, Limit and Open Classes, confined to the breed, whether restricted or not.
Mid Limit For dogs which have not won five or more First Prizes in all at Open and Championship Shows in Mid Limit, Limit and Open Classes, confined to the breed whether restricted or not.
Limit For dogs which have not won seven or more First Prizes in all at Open and Championship Shows in Limit and Open Classes, confined to the breed, whether restricted or not.
Open For all dogs of the breed for which the class is provided and eligible for entry at the show.
Veteran For dogs of any age specified in the schedule, but not less than five years on the first day of the show. However, it is more usual for lowest age limit to be seven years.
Brace For two exhibits (either sex or mixed) of one breed belonging to the same exhibitor, each exhibit having been entered in some class other other than brace or Team.

Dogs Worldwide.com - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Chris Black

Check out our Show Scene Diary for all the latest show information.

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