All-Breed shows are conformation events that are held for the more than 190 breeds and varieties of dogs recognized by the AKC to compete in, unless otherwise noted on the club’s premium list. Also listed under All-Breed are the Group Shows, or shows limited to one of the seven AKC Groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding. Approximately 1,500 AKC All-breed conformation point shows are held throughout the United States each year.
Specialty shows are events limited to a single breed, e.g. Bulldogs, or the varieties of one breed like Poodles, which include the three varieties: Toy, Miniature and Standard. Some specialty shows may be held in conjunction with an All-Breed event while others are stand-alone events. There are about 2,000 independent national, regional and local specialty point shows held every year.
There is no better place to learn about your breed than at a Specialty Show, in particular the national specialty (“the National”), which is usually held annually by the breed’s national parent club. It’s where dedicated fans of the breed meet together year after year, sharing their knowledge and passion and bringing their best dogs to compete.
As with any dog show, the point of the conformation classes is determination of the best breeding stock to continue the breed—and this point is taken nowhere more seriously than at specialties and particular the National. A class win at the national can be a high point of a dog person’s year, and a Best of Breed or Best in Sweepstakes is often a pinnacle achievement for person with a long history in a breed.
Whether you’re a prospective owner researching a breed, a new owner, or an experienced breeder, handler or judge, Specialty Shows are your best opportunity spend time with others who share your love of your breed. Many provide educational seminars and may offer other events such as obedience, tracking, and agility, as well as breed-specific performance venues such as earthdog or field trials, herding tests and trials, lure coursing or draft tests.
There are many specialties across the country every year. Take a look at upcoming national and regional breed specialties or search for national to local specialties, which are often held in conjunction with an All-Breed show at AKC Event Search and Results.