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If you’re interested in learning more about a breed, consider attending a dog show. Fun for all ages, these events are a wonderful way to learn more about purebred dogs and different canine sports, as well as meet people involved with training and breeding.

Types of Dog Events

When most people think of a dog show, they are thinking about an all-breed Conformation show. However, there are different types of dog events. Many Conformation dog shows will also have dog events in other sports, like Obedience, Rally, Agility, Fast CAT, and/or Scent Work trial, happening at the same location. Other times, these are held as single sport events. Browse the AKC’s searchable database to find an event near you.

Who Can Go to a Dog Show?

Anyone can attend a dog show, a public event, as a spectator. This is a fantastic way to get more information about breeds you are interested in, as well as checking out sports like Rally, Obedience, and Agility when held in-conjunction with Conformation. You can get a feel for what the sport is like and find referrals for local trainers.

AKC Rally National Championship or AKC National Obedience Championship Dog Show action or awards photo
Pix 'n Pages ©American Kennel Club

Is Attending a Dog Show Expensive?

In many cases, entry as a spectator is free. However, check in advance, as most will charge a fee for parking. Some larger shows are held at convention centers or other locations that do charge entry fees. Do not leave your wallet at home, though; many shows have vendor areas with food and canine accessories available for purchase.

Family-Friendly Events

Dog shows are a family-friendly outing, and bringing children of all ages is encouraged. If you are going to bring your kids along, though, make sure they are always supervised. Visitors of all ages should ask before approaching or petting any dog.

Most handlers are happy to let their dogs say hello, so long as they are not getting ready to compete. While at the show, remind kids to watch quietly and be polite while when approaching dogs and handlers. Children might enjoy watching Junior Handlers, who are kids and teens, competing.

04 CH Crosscreek's Vibrant Festival Prince Fredrich RI BCAT CGC TKN. SS16006501. Brittany. M. 12/4/2019. Breeder(s): Barbara J Pepin DVM/Wayne C Pepin. CH Castle's I Can Dance - CH Sanbar's True Colors. Owner(s): Abigail Engler, 5255 W Stonehaven Lane, New Palestine IN 46163. Handler: Abigail Engler, Jr. Handler #: 19735845002
Photo by Pix 'n' Pages ©American Kennel Club

Etiquette Tips

Going to a dog show for the first time can feel overwhelming. Plan to spend some time walking around or sitting and taking in what the exciting atmosphere has to offer.

When at a dog show, try to keep your distance from the ring’s entrance and exit, which allows the dogs and handlers to concentrate before and after entering the ring. Otherwise, most competitors would love to have you ask questions and even pet the dogs. Just be sure to ask the handler if you can say hello to a dog or pet them once they’re done showing and debriefing with their team. Although show dogs are trained to ignore distractions, you should still give them the most distraction-free space. 

Ask Questions

If you are not sure what is going on in the rings or in grooming, you can definitely ask questions. People love to talk about their dogs and educate others about their breed or the sport they compete in. Wait to chat with handlers until after they have exited the ring, as they will be focused on their dog and showing and may not be in the right space to give you their full attention.  

If someone says they cannot talk right now, most likely they are concentrating on getting their dog into a ring. Consider coming back later to chat or ask if you can greet the pup. For the most part, exhibitors are more than happy to talk with spectators and help you learn more about dogs and shows. 

2015 AKC Eukanuba National Championship, December, Orlando, FL.
Photo by HOTdog

Can I Bring My Dog?

No. When going to a dog show, leave your family pet at home. In general, for everyone’s safety, the only dogs who can attend a dog show are the animals who are entered.

If you want to get involved in shows with your own pet, talk with other show-goers to learn about training classes in your area so you and your dog can get competition ready.


Related article: 8 Things You May Not Know About the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
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