Dog Show Policies


All-Breed/Specialty Conflicts (September 2013 Board meeting)

If an All-Breed club refuses to grant permission to accommodate a Parent Club's National Specialty, a Parent Club regional specialty show held in conjunction with a Parent Club national performance event, or a local specialty held in conjunction with a national, the specialty club may appeal to an Event Review Committee consisting of the Show Events staff. The committee will consider such factors as:

  • Has the AB club already given up breeds or agreed to coexist with other national specialties on that date?
  • What entry does the breed club usually draw (i.e., how many entries might the AB club lose)?
  • Exactly how far apart would the events be (e.g., 150 miles would pose less of a problem than 10).
  • Has the AB club been forced to coexist with other nationals because of an appeal in the same or the previous year?
  • Has the same Parent Club sought to use the date of the same AB club in the past three years?

Back-to-Back Shows (April 1999 Board meeting)

Specialty shows may hold back-to-back shows.

Badges and Pins in the Ring (August 1968 Board meeting)

The rule prohibiting badges and pins in the ring is designed to prevent an exhibitor from wearing badges or other symbols which identify that person as a particular individual and the rule should not be construed to include the wearing of a lapel button by an exhibitor identifying him as a member of a particular club, AKC RHP, PHA, the Guild or any group.

Banners and Signs (July 2002 Board meeting)

All Clubs using an AKC licensed superintendent and those superintendents must display banners and signs provided by AKC to those superintendents at their shows. The banners and signs containing the AKC logo must be placed in prominent and highly visible areas. The banners must be hung on visible walls under tents at outdoor shows and directly on show rings. The signs must also be in highly visible areas, such as near a busy show entrance, near catalog sales points, one near the Best in Show ring during judging and as part of the backdrop for the show photographer. The Superintendent and the show-giving club are responsible for coordinating the placing of the banners and signs.

Clubs that are not using Superintendents are strongly urged to display AKC banners and signs at their event.These banners and signs may be purchased from AKC. Inquiries may be directed to:

Club Educational Services
American Kennel Club
8051 Arco Corporate Drive, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27617-3390

Clubs and/or superintendents are to be fined $300 for noncompliance.

Catalog Sales (July, 2013 Board meeting)

The Board VOTED to amend its policy regarding catalog sales. The following policy changes are effective immediately:

Event catalogs will not be made available for sale until one hour prior to the first AKC event in the catalog for which the catalog is the official catalog of record.

A separate copy with all placements and absences marked must be submitted to the AKC for each AKC event in the catalog for which the catalog is the official catalog of record.

Combined Catalogs

There are situations where a club or clubs can use a combined catalog of AKC events. The policy used for combined catalogs also applies to the premium lists and judging programs for the events.

Individual Clubs

Individual clubs holding single or consecutive days of competition may use a combined catalog. The combined catalog can be designated as the official catalog of record for all or some of the AKC events contained within in it. If the catalog contains AKC event and entry information for which it is not the official catalog of record, the catalog must include a disclaimer prior to each AKC event for which the catalog is not the official catalog of record. The disclaimer must designate that the information is unofficial and must identify the secretary/superintendent responsible for the content.

Multiple Clubs

Multiple clubs holding single or consecutive days of competition may use a combined catalog if the catalog is the official catalog for all AKC events within it and if a single person/entity is responsible for managing the entries for all AKC events.

Clusters and Back-to-Back Shows (September 1996 Board meeting, amended at the June 2014 Meeting)

Clubs may hold their events in any sequence of dates provided that they have held licensed events for at least three consecutive years. At the May 2000 Board meeting the three-year requirement was rescinded.

  • The events must be held within a 125-mile radius of the club's territory, and are subject to host club approval.
  • If both of an all-breed club's events are held out of territory, double compliance (educational) requirements will be necessary.

A cluster is defined as more than two events held by more than one club at one site on consecutive days. Approval of more than four days of unique AKC conformation events is contingent upon exceptional site capabilities, Executive Field Staff recommendation, and subsequent site approval by Event Plans. There is a checklist for site inspection. Clusters of more than five days of unique AKC conformation events will not be approved except in the case of National Specialties and associated events hosted by the Parent clubs or specialty clubs.

Effective February, 2005: In no circumstances will clusters of more than five days of unique AKC conformation events be approved.

  • Host club to be clearly identified, if applicable.
  • Approval of more than four unique AKC Conformation Events is contingent upon exceptional site capabilities and Executive Field Staff recommendation and subsequent site approval by Event Plans. (There is a checklist for site inspection.)
  • Continuation of cluster approval will be based on daily inspection and subsequent monitoring of conditions to provide dogs and exhibitors with stable and safe venues.

Effective July 1, 1999: A cluster committee consisting of a representative from each club must be established to coordinate dates, grounds, special attractions, etc. The function of the cluster committee is to coordinate overall plans for the cluster. Each club remains responsible for the management of its own event. The individual event committee must comply with existing AKC Rules, Regulations and Guidelines. Guidelines for the cluster committee follow:

  • Each club remains responsible for the conduct of its own event.
  • Each club will have one representative on the Cluster Committee.
  • Work out event schedule at least one year in advance. Any date conflicts must be resolved by the clubs.
  • Submit all event applications together in one package to event plans, if possible. This will prevent unnecessary delay in issuing all event approvals. This applies to applications for "regular" shows, not designated specialties.
  • Judges selection, contracts, etc. are the responsibility of the individual show-giving clubs and any disputes must be worked out by the clubs.
  • Common site application form may be submitted in lieu of individual host club letters. Form must be signed by all club representatives.
  • Club Representatives will work with Events Field Representative, Grounds Chair/Committee and Superintendent on daily site inspections for their respective events.
  • Cluster committee may remain the same from year to year.

Cluster committee would also be responsible for the following:

  • Securing accessory services and equipment such as telephones, public address system, potable water, chairs and tables, all concessions.
  • Submitting a consolidated Emergency and Disaster Plan form to event plans. The form should identify all clubs in the cluster and their event dates. The form may be signed for the cluster committee by a designated individual.
  • Dealing with outside personnel such as site management.
  • Making sure there is adequate insurance coverage for all clubs/days.
  • Each club is responsible to identify itself on its event application as part of a cluster.
  • The Common Site Application must accompany the event application for all participating clubs.

Commercial Filming at Events Contractual Policy (April 12, 2005 Board meeting)

The Board shall develop and publish specific and mandatory contractual requirements governing the conduct of all persons engaged in the commercial filming and/or electronic transmission of AKC-approved dog events. The clubs holding these AKC-approved events are responsible for enforcing these requirements, and are prohibited from entering into any contract which would place them in violation of these requirements.

When a club makes application to AKC for permission to hold their event, they must include in that application a declaration that their show will or will not be commercially filmed or electronically transmitted.

Any AKC member or licensed club seeking approval to conduct a dog event involving commercial filming and/or electronic transmission of their show must include good faith participation of AKC and its representative professional sports marketing consultant in the negotiation of the contract terms, and AKC must appear as a third party signatory on the fully executed contract before their application for the show will be approved . Clubs will have the discretion to seek additional professional representation at their option and expense, if desired.

The Board of Directors will develop and publish the minimum requirements that any such contract must contain, which will be facilitated by the professional sports marketing consultant. Essential to such contracts will be:

  1. Reasonable recognition, both visually and orally, of the event-giving club and the AKC.
  2. Reasonable monetary compensation for the event-giving club and for AKC.
  3. Assurance that commercial filming or electronic transmission of any AKC-approved event will not diminish or impugn the reputation of the sport of purebred dogs, the event-giving club, or AKC.
  4. Defined amounts of airtime devoted to the promotion of the sport of purebred dogs and AKC.
  5. Exercise of a good-faith effort to avoid scheduling conflicts with the airing of other AKC dog events.
  6. Assurance for compliance with current "AKC Operational Requirements for Commercial Filming and Electronic Transmission at Events" policies and procedures, a copy of which shall be attached as an addendum to the contract.
  7. Provision for confidentiality.

The effective date of the policy will coincide with the date of its approval by the Board of Directors, and the Board shall define disciplinary action for clubs which fail to comply. The Board shall also make special provision for clubs that have permitted electronic transmission of their past shows and that have contracts already in force on the date the board implements this policy. Any waiver of this policy must be approved by AKC.

Staff Policy concerning exceptions to the above Board Policy

Clubs contemplating "limited-use" filming-only at AKC-approved events will be granted automatic exception from compliance with AKC Policy on Contractual Requirements for Commercial Filming and/or Electronic Transmission of Approved Events. "Limited-use" filming is defined as the recording of moving images by individuals or professional videographers solely for personal consumption or for the purpose of producing a record of the winners for members and the fancy who have special interest in the event, and which is not intended for mass commercial transmission or distribution. Exclusion from the Contractual Requirements Policy under these circumstances, however, does not preclude the need for Clubs to comply with the Operational Requirements pertaining to the use of cameras, lighting or personnel needed to film the event's activities, as ultimately monitored and overseen by the show chairperson.

Commercial Filming at Events Operational Policy (June 22,2005 Staff Policy related to the above Board Policy)

Operational Requirements for Commercial Filming or Electronic Transmission of Events

This policy is applicable to all filming or electric transmission of events and will be used in conjunction with the Board Policy concerning Contractual Requirements for Commercial Filming or Electronic Transmission of Events.

Requirements for media crews and equipment at all events

  • No lights, cameras, equipment, or personnel that are distracting or that affect the performance, health or welfare of the dogs, exhibitors and/or the judge will be allowed.
  • Published judging schedules may not be delayed to accommodate filming or production.
  • Filming may not obstruct the grounds, aisles, or passageways, nor disturb exhibitors, dogs, judges or, undue obstruction to spectators during any portion of the event.
  • Filming or recording may not attract attention to specific exhibits or exhibitors that could afford undue consideration for specific individuals on the grounds or in the show area or ring. This includes the use of individual microphones on exhibitors. Use of individual microphones on exhibitors must be specifically described and approved by AKC.

Trials and Tests

The event's chairman and judges have complete authority over the areas used for the tests or trials. As such, they have the responsibility to assure that filming will not interfere with the successful running of the event. In all cases, safety is to be a top priority and must not be compromised.

Events with Rings: No cameraperson or equipment will be allowed to be in a position to block the ring entrance or the aisles leading to the ring.

  • Any equipment or lights placed inside, above or around the ring must not interfere with the normal judging procedures.
  • Filming will normally be conducted from outside the ring. Limited filming may be permitted inside the Group or Best in Show ring with specific AKC approval of the position of cameras, equipment, and personnel. Cameras or cameramen must remain in a stationary position when filming in the ring. Any activity that disturbs the exhibits, exhibitors or judges will not be permitted to continue under any circumstances. Cameras filming the lineup of dogs should be done in an area outside the judging ring or from a stationary camera as the dogs enter the ring for judging. If a designated lineup area is not available or the stationary in-ring camera not suitable, a brief filming of the lineup in the ring prior to each Group and Best in Show judging may be requested. This filming of the lineup in the ring by cameramen must not exceed three minutes prior to any Group or Best in Show.
  • All cameras (including boom cameras) must maintain a designated distance from the dogs at all times. This distance will be discussed and approved by AKC prior to the start of filming.
  • AKC approved cameramen will be considered "show attendants" for the application of Chapter 7, Section 16 of Rules Applying to Dog Shows. "Judges are required to exclude from the rings in which they are judging all persons except the steward or stewards and the show attendants assigned to the ring and those actually engaged in exhibiting."
  • The AKC Executive Field Representative or a designated AKC liaison will be the final on-site authority concerning AKC Policy should site-specific regulatory questions arise. The Event Chairman is responsible for compliance with AKC Rules, Regulations and Policy at the event.

Note: Editorial news coverage filming need not be published or coordinated with Event Operations, but will require permission from the Event Chairman with applicable directions and the filming limitations required by this policy.

Concurrent Specialty Shows (August 2011 Board meeting)

Following a motion by Dr. Davies, seconded by Dr. Smith, it was VOTED (Dr. Davies, Dr. Smith, Mr. Kalter, Mr. Goodman, Mr. Menaker, Mr. Gladstone, Dr. Newman, Dr. Battaglia, Mr. Ashby, Mr. Amen, Mr. Arnold; opposed: Dr. Garvin, Ms. Scully) to end the trial period for concurrent specialties and to permit independent specialties to be held concurrently with an all-breed show with the following limitations:

  1. The specialty club must obtain permission from the all-breed club in order to apply.
  2. The maximum number of independent specialties will be determined by the Event Operations Staff, considering the adequacy of the all-breed show's facility.
  3. The specialty must be held on the same grounds as the concurrent all-breed show (i.e. the same physical address).
  4. The entry on the Specialty breed(s) is limited to 100 entries in both the specialty & all-breed club events.
  5. The ownership of the corresponding date must be agreed upon in writing prior to event approval.
  6. The all-breed class must be held prior to the independent specialty in order to accommodate the Group judging. FINAL Bd. Pg. 5 August 8 -9, 2011
  7. Evening specialties will be permitted for breeds that are not holding concurrent specialties with the all-breed show.

Distance a club may travel outside of its territory to hold an event (April, 2009 Board meeting)

Clubs may hold events up to 125 miles from their territory but are subject to host club approval if within another club's territory.

Electronic Show Results (September 1996 Board meeting)

All superintendents, except those handling fewer than ten all-breed shows annually, are required to transmit their show results in an electronic format acceptable to AKC.

Evening Specialty Shows (December 2005 Board meeting)

Effective January 1, 2007, evening specialties of no more than fifty entries will be permitted following all-breed shows. Sweepstakes, special attractions or matches will not be approved in conjunction with evening events.

Grooming Space (July 2012 Board meeting)

It is the policy of the AKC to encourage and welcome all exhibitors. Keeping the cost of participating in the Sport reasonable for current as well as potential new competitors is crucial to its future health and growth. At the same time, the Board recognizes the financial pressure faced by many clubs in putting on their events. The Board has therefore established the following policy, effective January 1, 2013, with regards to grooming space:

All clubs are required to set aside an area designated for grooming/crating. "Day of event" grooming must be provided that is reasonable in relation to entry of the show. A club holding a conformation event may, at its option, offer reserved grooming/crating space for a fee, provided that it makes available, at no charge in addition to the entry fee for the show, a reasonable amount of grooming/crating space of equal desirability to the exhibitors. Such free space need not include additional services such as the availability of electrical hookups.

Any club desiring to offer such paid reserved grooming space shall submit, with its application to the American Kennel Club for the holding of the event, a plan detailing the paid and unpaid space, which shall be subject to American Kennel Club approval.

Independent Specialty Shows held concurrently with All-Breed Shows (August 2011 Board meeting)

The Board of Directors approved independent specialties to be held concurrently with an all-breed show with the following limitations:

  1. The specialty club must obtain permission from the all-breed club in order to apply.
  2. The maximum number of independent specialties will be determined by the Event Operations Staff, considering the adequacy of the all-breed show's facility.
  3. The specialty must be held on the same grounds as the concurrent all-breed show (i.e. the same physical address).
  4. The entry on the Specialty breed(s) is limited to 100 entries in both the specialty & all-breed club events.
  5. The ownership of the corresponding date must be agreed upon in writing prior to event approval.
  6. The all-breed class must be held prior to the independent specialty in order to accommodate the Group judging.
  7. Evening specialties will be permitted for breeds that are not holding concurrent specialties with the all-breed show.

Invitational Shows (August 1999 Board meeting)

At shows where championship points are not awarded, priority acceptance of dogs that have met a preannounced level of achievement is not considered discriminatory.

Limited Number of Events Policy (April, 2009 Board meeting)

A local club may only hold two shows in a calendar year. There is no limit on national clubs. Clubs in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and geographically isolated areas (i.e. no AKC club within 75 miles) may hold up to four shows. Show or obedience clubs may hold any number of obedience trials.

Non-Regular Class Judging (April 1999 Board meeting)

All Non-Regular Classes for single-dog entries at independent and designated specialties may be scheduled at any time before Best of Breed or Variety.

Same Day Specialty Shows (December 2005 Board meeting)

Effective January 1, 2007, two independent specialty shows of the same breed of no more than one hundred entries each, inclusive of sweepstakes, special attractions or matches, may be permitted at the same location on the same day.

Show Conflict Distance Policy (February, 2006 Board Meeting, amended at the April 2009 and February 2014 Meetings)

The Board considered the policy, restricting the distance a club could go outside of its area to hold an event. Following a motion by Mr. Marden, seconded by Mr. Goodman, it was VOTED unanimously to adopt the following distance limitations, effective immediately:

  • All-breed clubs and specialty clubs joining all-breeds are limited to 125 straight line miles from their territory as per current policy.
  • Specialty clubs joining another specialty club of the same breed are limited to 200 miles from their territory.
  • Specialty clubs joining the designated National Specialty are limited to 500 miles from their territory.
  • Parent Clubs are encouraged to review distances involved and impact on other specialty clubs prior to approval of their member club approval considerations.
  • Clubs may request a one-time exception from Event Operations through their Parent Clubs if distance limitations cause undue hardship on the club and no other specialty club, of the same breed, is bypassed without their concurrence.

Event Conflict Distance

Type Event Protected Distance
Conformation 200 Miles
Agility 100 Miles
Obedience 100 Miles
Rally 100 Miles

Events of the same competition type will not be approved within a clubs protected distance.

* Roving National Specialties may be granted exception.

Amendement at February 2014 Meeting for Conformation dog shows: Dog shows may not be held closer than 200 miles in distance on the same day, except a club may be approved to hold a show within 200 miles of another club which has established its show on the same date, only if in each instance it obtains the written permission of the club with the established date and submits the written permission along with its show application. The American Kennel Club will only enforce any agreements between the clubs if they are in writing and signed by officers of the respective clubs. It is the club's responsibility to insure the length of their commitment to the show location is consistent with the written permission they receive from the established club.

Surgical Procedures (October 1993 Board meeting)

The Board approved the publication of a list of procedures that, undertaken to restore the health of a dog, would not in and of themselves affect a dog's show eligibility. Such procedures would include but not be limited to:

  1. The repair of broken legs, even if such procedures involve the insertion of pins, plates or wires.
  2. The removal of damaged cartilage.
  3. The repair of ligaments that have ruptured or been torn.
  4. Caesarean sections.
  5. The repair of umbilical hernias.
  6. The removal of tumors or cysts.
  7. Gastric torsion/bloat surgery.
  8. Splenic torsion surgery.
  9. Tonsillectomy.
  10. Correction of "Cherry Eye" (which involves the gland of the nictitating membrane).
  11. Debarking.
  12. The removal of dewclaws if a regular practice in the breed.

Telephone Entries (January 1982 Board meeting)

Entries may be accepted by telephone, or at another address other than the show secretary's home or office.

Training Collars (July 2001 Board meeting)

Special training devices that are used to control and train dogs, including but not limited to, collars with prongs, electronic collars used with transmitters, muzzles and head collars may not be used on dogs at AKC events, except as allowed in the AKC Rules, Regulations, and policies.

The American Kennel Club recognizes that special training collars may be an effective and useful management device, when properly used, for controlling dogs that might be extremely active, difficult to control on a neck collar, or dog aggressive. These collars are also recognized as possibly useful for gaining control at the start of basic obedience training, essential education that dogs deserve and need.

There is a point at which owners should have sufficient control of their dogs to manage them on regular neck collars, without the use of special training collars. This is the point at which dogs are acceptable on the grounds of AKC competitive events and will have the opportunity to participate in those events.

Veterinarians at Shows (January 2000 Board meeting)

Clubs must include in the Judging Program the telephone number, address and directions for the vet on call or on site, and the directions to the nearest 24-hour animal emergency clinic, or if none, the most convenient vet's office.

Clubs must have available at the superintendent's or show secretary's table, and should provide to the veterinarian if on site, handouts giving the name, phone number, and directions for the nearest emergency clinic. If there is no emergency clinic in the area, give information for the most convenient vet's office. Clubs must verify the hours the clinic or office is open and include it in the information.