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Golden Retriever National Championship

Every year in December (or January for a few years) since 2001, dog owners from around the world come together for the American Kennel Club National Championship presented by Royal Canin. This year, the event takes place in Orlando, Fla., with a nearly week-long series of events culminating in the Best in Show finale. Starting December 13, participants and viewers can expect to see agility, rally trials, and obedience work, as well as participate in some social functions, meeting the breeds, and seminars. The main draw for the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin will be on Saturday, December 17, with the judging of all sporting, hound, toy, non-sporting breeds, and junior showmanship competition; and on Sunday, December 18 with the judging of all working, terrier, herding breeds, miscellaneous, and Best in Show.

Popular Events at the 2016 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin

Agility work: For those who don’t know what agility competition is, the goal of agility is to demonstrate a dog’s willingness to work with the handler, without food or treats, while racing against the clock. The course is set up with a variety of situations in mind, and the viewer can expect to see the typical weaving, jumping, and climbing through, around, and over obstacles. Agility is a fast-paced competition and requires a lot of focus and concentration on the part of both the dog and handler.


Rally Trials: Focusing on obedience, rally trials typically have 10-to-20 designated stations that tell the handler and dog which tasks they are to complete. The dog and handler are expected to move in a brisk, but normal pace, with the dog under control at the handler’s left side.
dog and handler

Working Dogs: Breeds that fall into the Working Group category are dogs that were bred to perform jobs. Typical jobs these breeds perform are guarding property, pulling sleds, search and rescue, and police work. Viewers can expect to see Siberian Huskies, Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers and more. Working dogs typically are very strong, smart, serious, and have a lot of energy. These dogs need and want a job to do, and are happiest when performing a task.

Sporting Dogs: Dog breeds in the Sporting Group are similar to dogs in the Working Group in that they have a lot of energy and like being active. However, the Sporting Group dogs tend to have jobs such as hunting, retrieving, and field activities. These breeds are typically spaniels, setters, pointers and retrievers.
sporting dog

Diving Dogs: Dock diving titles were recognized by the AKC in 2014. Now, you can see this incredible canine sport as part of National Championship competition in collaboration with North America Diving Dogs. Dogs of all breeds and sizes will jump off docks and into a pool of water, judged based on distance.

Obedience Trials: Similar to rally trials, the obedience trials focus on just that: obedience. However, rather than going through a course of obedience stations as they do in rally, dog and handler must perform each command as directed to them by the judge. Points are scored based on accuracy and precision.

This is only a small guide to the many events and activities shown at the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin. You can expect to see all kinds of dog breeds represented this year, from the giant Bullmastiffs to tiny Dachshunds. Though perhaps the best part of the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin is getting to see all the amazing partnerships between dogs and handlers.