New Show Exhibitors

♦ Dog Show Judging – Flow Chart (to assist with understanding the Judging process)

If you have come to this page hopefully it is because you are curious about dog shows, why they are held, what is involved and why people attend.

We try to explain simply what it is all about so that you will be able to follow events more easily and will want to come again.

What is a Show?

A Show is many things – they allow you to do something with your dog and have an enjoyable night out among people with whom you have something in common, but who you may not otherwise have met.

Shows are educational in that you should learn something about your own (and other) Breeds: is your dog true to type, should it (or should it not) be bred? How would you know otherwise if you should breed your delightful family member, and with what – the dog next door because it is close, even though they do have the same faults?

Regardless of the result on the night, it is a relaxing and enjoyable night out.

Types of shows

A Championship Show is one open to all Breeds of dogs and at which Challenge and/or Best of Breed Certificates are issued, one for each sex in each Breed at the Judge’s discretion.

A Specialty Show is one conducted by a Breed Club specifically for dogs of that Breed only, or one which is conducted by a Group Club for Breeds of dogs within a Group. Challenge and/or Best of Breed Certificates are awarded to each sex in each Breed at the Judge’s discretion.

Open Shows/Parades are held for the training of young dogs in Ring procedure and aspiring conformation Judges. No Challenge Certificates are offered at Open Shows or Parades.

Challenge Certificates

A Challenge Certificate is awarded at the discretion of the Judge, one to each sex in each Breed represented at the Show. A Best of Breed Certificate replacing the Challenge Certificate for the Best of Breed winner. Certificates carry a varying number of points towards a title of  Champion/Neuter Champion, Grand Champion/Neuter Grand Champion or Supreme Champion.

The Challenge Certificate (CC) carries the words that: “I am clearly of the opinion that this exhibit is of such outstanding merit as to be worthy to qualify for the title “Champion”‘. These Certificates are signed by the Judge.

The Judge does not personally allocate points, this is done by calculating the number of dogs beaten by the CC or BOB winner on the night.

Any dog aged six (6) months or over which is unbeaten in its Class is eligible to compete for the CC.

Challenge Points

To become eligible to apply for the Title CHAMPION or NEUTER CHAMPION, a dog must have won not less than 100x points.

To become eligible to apply for the Title GRAND CHAMPION or NEUTER CHAMPION, a dog must have won not less than 1,000x points.

To become eligible to apply for the Title SUPREME CHAMPION, a dog must have won not less than a 1,000x points, 3x All Breeds Best In Shows awarded by 3x different Best in Show Judges; or 10x Best in Group/Multi-Breed or Breed Specialty Best in Show awarded by 10x different judges.

Points are calculated as follows:

Dog/Bitch Challenge 5 points + 1 for each in sex in Breed
Best of Breed 5 points + 1 for each dog and bitch judged in the Breed
Best in Group 5 points + 1 for each exhibit judged in the Group; and
Best in Show 5 points + 1 for each exhibit judged in the show.

No more than a maximum of 25 points can be awarded to any one (1) Exhibit at any one Show.

Exhibits in the BABY PUPPY or NEUTER classes are not taken into account when calculating points as they are not eligible to compete for the CC or BOB.

Reserve Challenge

Where possible, the Judge selects a Reserve Challenge winner and this does have the chance to become the Runner Up in Breed and possibly, Runner Up in Group and Runner Up in Show.

This Award carries no Challenge points nor any prize unless a prize is specifically mentioned on the Schedule. It is an emergency award should the CC winner leave while judging is still in progress or otherwise becomes ineligible to compete further.

Judging at Shows

Dogs come in various Breeds. These breeds are divided into seven different Groups for judging at shows:

Group 1 – Toys
Group 2 – Terriers
Group 3 – Gundogs
Group 4 – Hounds
Group 5 – Working Dogs
Group 6 – Utility
Group 7 – Non-Sporting

Within the Groups, Breeds are listed and judged alphabetically and dogs are always judged before bitches unless specified in the schedule. Click here to see a listing of breeds within the groups. This link will take you to a separate window that accesses the ANKC site

Starting with the youngest age Class, all dogs are judged. The first-place winner in each Class is then brought into the Ring and the Judge selects the CC winner. If there is a second place dog in the class from which the CC winner came, it is then brought in to replace the winning dog. The Judge then selects the Reserve winner. Bitches are then judged in the same manner, including Challenge and Reserve.

The two CC winners (one dog and one bitch) are judged one against the other for the Best of Breed Award. The winner is replaced by its Reserve and the Judge then selects the Runner Up to Best of Breed.

Judging then goes on to the next Breed until all the Breeds within the Group have been judged.

All Best of Breed winners then enter the Ring and from these, the Judge selects the Best in Group winner, which is replaced by its Reserve winner (if there is one) – and the Judge then selects a Runner Up to Best in Group from the remaining dogs.

The Best in Group winner automatically wins each Class in which it was correctly entered. The Runner Up in Group wins any class it was entered in, but not beaten by the Best in Group winner.

Judging then goes back to the youngest Class still to be judged and all Class winners from each Breed are paraded for the Judge to select the winner of the Class in Group.

So it goes through all seven groups. Then all Group winners are required to compete for Best in Show, Runner Up in Show and Classes in Show.

Judging of Breeds

All Breeds have their own Standard against which they are judged. When comparing one Breed against another, the Judge compares each dog to its Standard and then decides which dog is, in their opinion, the closest representation of its standard.

It really doesn’t matter then that you may be exhibiting the only specimen of the Breed – you will still have to compete against other dogs to win a Group or Show Award. It is important to understand the Breed Standard of your dog. Copies of Breed Standards can be purchased from the NACA office and are also available online on the ANKC site.

Withholding a Challenge or Reserve

Remembering that the Awards are made at the sole discretion of the Judge and that, in their opinion, the dog is worthy of the Title, you will realise that there are several reasons why the Award may be withheld by the Judge.

Reasons may include: the dog in question was too young (and has to mature more); that it is out of condition, out of coat, did not perform well on the night, or even because the Judge was unable to examine the dog (either its mouth or its body) because of temperament.

A Show is also a public display so a dog which shows undue aggression, either to another dog or the Judge, may be asked to leave the Ring and reported to the North Australian Canine Association (NACA).

What Next?

If you have read this far and do not think that dog showing is quite your thing – and you are not interested in breeding –


If you are interested, read on and we will get down to the nitty-gritty.

Before you can participate in any shows your dog must be on the NACA Register, in your name, and you must be a financial member of the NACA. If you are not going to handle your dog in the ring, you can have someone else handle your dog for you. If someone else is handling your dog and they are over 18, they also have to be a financial member of the NACA. Handler Memberships only are now available.

It does not matter if the family consider the dog as Little Bobby’s, when you are entering a show it is the registered owner of the dog that matters. If the dog is a dog is registered as being owned by Mrs I Blanko, Mrs I Blanko must be a DogsNT/ANKC member and enter the dog in the show.

Bobby Blanko, or Mr and Mrs Z Blanko are NOT correct! If you want to change ownership for one reason or another, that is fine, but it must be done formally with the NACA before the dog can be entered in shows in the new owner/s name/s.

If your dog was born and registered in the NT, it must be registered (in current ownership) with the NACA and should be transferred to your name by the vendor. To make sure that is has been, check the Registration Certificate of your dog – not the pedigree. If your name is on the front of the Certificate, that’s fine, if it is not, then the dog has not been transferred to you and you must contact the NACA.

If your dog is not on the DogsNT/ANKC Register, or you are not a Member, this must be done PRIOR to the close of entry for the show you wish to enter.

The dog being registered with the DogsNT/ANKC does not make you a Member, nor does being a Member infer that your dog is registered – these are two different things.

Membership of the NACA gives you the right to enter any approved Show or Exhibition but does not make you a Member of the Club conducting the fixture.

Club members usually pay lower entry fees than non-members, but you are free to pay the higher fee if that is what you want.

Where do I Find Show Information

A Schedule contains all the information you need to enter a Show:

* the name of the Club conducting the Show,
* where and when it is to be held,
* who the Judge is,
* who the Show Manager/Secretary is,
* the Classes and the Prizes offered,
* the cost of entry and when entries close, and any other details which are pertinent.

It is, in effect, a contract between the Club and the exhibitor.

Check each Schedule for these details, there are a number of Clubs and Classes may vary from Show to Show and so do entry fees, etc.

Most schedules are printed in the NACA online magazine – The Territory Dog World.

Ordinary Classes are defined on the reverse of entry forms and the Schedule tells you which of these classes are being held at the Show named thereon.

Class 1

Baby Puppy Dog

for dogs 3 and under 6 months of age

Class 1A

Baby Puppy Bitch

for bitches 3 and under 6 months of age

Class 2

Minor Puppy Dog

for dogs 6 and under 9 months of age

Class 2A

Minor Puppy Bitch

for bitches 6 and under 9 months of age

Class 3

Puppy Dog

for dogs 6 and under 12 months of age

Class 3A

Puppy Bitch

for bitches 6 and under 12 months of age

Class 4

Junior Dog

for dogs 9 and not exceeding 18 months of age

Class 4A

Junior Bitch

for bitches 9 and not exceeding 18 months of age

Class 5

Intermediate Dog

for dogs over 18 months but not exceeding 36 months of age

Class 5A

Intermediate Bitch

for bitches over 18 months but not exceeding 36 months of age

Class 9

State/Territory Bred Dog

for dogs 6 months or over whelped in the State or Territory in which they are exhibited

Class 9A

State/Territory Bred Bitch

for bitches 6 months or over whelped in the State or Territory in which they are exhibited

Class 10

Australian Bred Dog

for dogs 6 months or over whelped in Australia

Class 10A

Australian Bred Bitch

for bitches 6 months or over whelped in Australia

Class 11

Open Dog

for dogs 6 months or over and of a breed recognised by the ANKC

Class 11A

Open Bitch

for bitches 6 months or over and of a breed recognised by the ANKC

Class 15

Puppy Neuter

for neuter dogs and bitches aged six and under twelve months

Class 16

Junior Neuter

for neuter dogs and bitches aged nine and under eighteen months

Class 17

Intermediate Neuter

for neuter dogs and bitches aged eighteen and under thirty-six months

Class 18

Open Neuter

for neuter dogs and bitches aged six months or over

Bitch Classes are identified by adding “A” after the number. it is necessary then if you enter a dog in Class 1A that it be a female Baby Puppy and not a male.

If such a mistake is made and it isn’t discovered before judging, your dog could be disqualified.
The exception is the Neuter classes, which were added from 1 January 2002, were dogs and bitches are shown in the same class.


The age of your dog is calculated to midnight on the first day of the Exhibition. Don’t make the mistake of working out how old your dog is on the day you make out the entry, but how old he will be on the day of the Show itself.

It is your dog’s birthday on the day of the show, he must be entered in the older class.

Special/Other Classes

Special Classes are not defined on the entry form so they are defined on the Schedule. Examples of Special Classes are Veteran, Brace, Progeny Sweepstakes, etc.

All dogs entered in a Special Class must also be entered in an Ordinary Class at that Show with the exception of Veteran Classes.

Entry Forms

The entry must be made correctly, in clear print, in ink and signed by the (registered) owner and sent with the correct fees to the address on the Schedule on or before the advertised date that entries close. Late, incorrect or entries without fees may not be accepted.

Before posting, check again that all the required information is included and you have the right fees.
It is your responsibility to make sure that your entry is correct in all respects. If you have entered the dog in a wrong Class, the organisers will transfer the dog to the proper age Class or the Open Class.

Entry Fees

Entry fees differ from club to club, but for each Class, you have your dog entered in, that entry fee is payable.
Some Clubs charge different amounts if the same dog is entered in more than one (1) class.

You may enter the dog in one Class, or as many as it is eligible for – the decision is yours.


Catalogues are prepared by the Club running the show. The catalogue gives the details of each dog and the Class in which it is entered. It is normal to order and pay for a catalogue when making out an entry.

Catalogues are available at the Show, but not beforehand.

Withdrawal From Shows

If for some reason, you wish to withdraw your entry, the reason should be given in writing to the Show Manager. Once entered, a dog must be exhibited unless there is a valid reason why it cannot – Transfer of Ownership is not considered “valid”. Clubs are under no obligation to return entry fees once the closing date for entries has passed. If for some reason there has to be a change of Judge you have the right to withdraw before the commencement of judging, provided you advise the Show Manager. Request for refund of entry fee should be made in writing.

The Weeks in Between

From the close of entry to the day of the Show is three (3) weeks normally, and this gives you ample time to fall prey to nerves and to have second thoughts about the whole thing! Don’t worry, you can fill this time by practising what to do in the ring.

Dogs are not required to be Obedience trained for the Show Ring. Your dog should walk on a lead without pulling, jerking or being plain silly. If you can train him to walk with you on a loose lead with head held high, you are well on the way to great things.

Dogs are also required to be able to stand in an alert position showing off his best points – it is not much good if he bends in the middle, sags his back or tries to climb into your lap! Smaller Breeds are required to do their stand on a table. If you own a small Breed make sure he is used to ‘heights’.

The Judge will check the dog’s mouth for “bite” – he wants to see how the teeth are placed, not to give the dog supper. If the dog is a male, the Judge will also check to see if he is “entire”. This means that the dog has both testes fully descended and in the scrotum. Make sure that your dog is used to this procedure so that he won’t be shocked when it happens!

There are Clubs that hold training classes weekly. The DogsNT Office will be able to assist you with contact numbers for these, or you can the Clubs directly here.

Alternatively, if you know someone with the same Breed, who also shows, ask them for some tips on how to ‘handle’ the dog in the Ring.

Don’t worry, you won’t be any different at the beginning – like all Exhibitors, practice is the only answer.

So you want to find out some more?

Show Day

It is only common courtesy to produce a dog which has been washed and groomed, no Judge could be expected to be impressed with having to handle a specimen straight out of the backyard, even if he does not smell too badly! The type of grooming required will depend entirely on the Breed of dog you own, but even short-haired dogs require some work

While Shows are not meant to be ‘beauty parades’ all Breed Standards state how a dog should look, and grooming is necessary for all Breeds – to some degree or other

At last, it is time to be off.

Be sure that you are wearing appropriate enclosed footwear (no high heels, spiked soles or things that go flip-flop): you will also like to consider wearing a colour to complement your dog. You may not think it mattered, but the way one dresses can improve the overall picture your dog makes.

Don’t forget to take something along to sit on, as well as something for your dog (be it a grooming table, cage or blanket): a water dish, a chain, and the dog’s show collar and lead.

Don’t forget the dog! (it has been known to happen).

Effective Control

While at a Show, your dog must be under control at all times. “Control” does not just mean that he is on the end of a lead…hence the chain, if you leave a dog unattended, it must be securely restrained.


Some Shows have a check-in time, you must be there not later than the time specified on the Schedule if there is a check-in time.

Contagious and/or Infectious Diseases

All dogs must be currently vaccinated against Parvo Virus, Distemper and Hepatitis before they are allowed to be exhibited or at that exhibition.

If your dog has been exposed to the risk of or treated for any contagious or infectious disease during the period dating from seven weeks prior to the exhibition the dog is not to be allowed to be exhibited or at the exhibition

Or in the case of inoculation against distemper two (2) weeks prior to the date of the exhibition. If you are not sure contact the Show Manager listed on the Schedule.


You are on the grounds, you have walked the dog and now you have time to relax. Check the catalogue to see that your dog has been entered correctly in whatever Class or Classes you have entered him in. If there is something wrong, see the Show Manager immediately. It could be that your dog was ineligible for the Class or that you just can’t find it in your nervousness, or perhaps the dog is not listed because of typist’s error. Check at the beginning of the Show so that whatever amendments need to be made can be made without any problem.

Exhibit Numbers

Although the details of your dog are contained in the catalogue, the Judge does not see this until after the Show. For the time involved, you cease to be Mrs Blanko and become number 36, or whatever. Stewards will not call your name, they will call for the dog by its catalogue number. If your dog’s number is called, report immediately to the Steward (that is the slightly harassed looking person with the catalogue over there yelling). If you are called three (3) times without answering, your dog will be called “Absent” and will be unable to take part thereafter.

Exhibit numbers should be worn on the left arm or the left shoulder and should be clearly displayed at all times when in the Ring.

If you are showing more than one dog on the night, the only card that should be displayed when you are in the Ring is the one for the dog you are currently handling.

The Show

From the catalogue, you will see which Group of dogs is being judged first, etc. Find your Group, then your Breed and your dog to see how much time you have until you and the dog are required. Give yourself time to walk the dog (again), have a little practice before being required, but until then relax and enjoy the show.
When each Group is called all the Breeds in that Group gather in the Assembly Ring (so-called for obvious reasons). A preliminary sorting occurs where you find exhibitors positioning themselves in the approximate order of requirement (dogs before bitches, breeds alphabetically); this is more formally sorted when the Assembly Steward calls out the number of the dogs required for the next Class. Listen carefully for your number and acknowledge. Despite Breed judging being over for you, no-one can leave the Assembly Ring until the completion of all judging for the Group.

Starting with the youngest age Class, Baby Puppy, judging progresses through to the Open Class after which, all Class winners (except Baby Puppy) compete for the Best of Breed award (mentioned earlier).

You cannot leave the Assembly Ring because although your dog may not have won a BOB or R/U BOB, it may still be eligible for an In Group Class award.

Once the Group judging has been completed, the exhibitors are told they can leave the Ring and the next Group of Breeds is called up. And the whole thing is repeated. But you can now relax.

When all Groups have been judged, the call will go out for General Specials and all the Best in Group and In Group Class winners will gather in the Assembly Ring again.

The Group winners will parade in the Ring for the Judge to select their Best in Show; this will be replaced by his Runner Up dog, and then Runner Up in Show will be selected. Again, the Best in Show will win all the Classes in which it was entered and the Runner Up will win any Class in which it was not beaten by the Best in Show. After that, starting with Baby Puppy winners, the remaining classes will be judged for In Show winners.


The presentation of prizes takes place and so ends the show. Everyone is tired, some elated, others cast down momentarily while still others are philosophical. But in the end, we mostly come back again for the next Judge’s opinion.


There are some points about which you should be aware of:

  • A dog which did not win a BOB (Best of Breed) on the night, cannot win Best in Group or Show – it can win an In Group or In Show Class.
  • Dogs parading in the Ring do so either in a triangle, a straight up and back or in a circle and this is at the Judge’s command. Usually the first is followed by the second at the Judge’s command when a dog is being judged on its own. When Group competition is being held, all dogs usually go in a circle unless the Judge wishes to see dogs move individually again.
  • For the triangle, the Judge wants to see your dog moved away from him, in profile, and coming towards him for a comprehensive look at movement.
  • For the straight up and back, the Judge wants you to walk in a straight line away from him, turn smartly (around the dog) and to come straight back towards him, stopping about 3 feet (1 metre) away.
  • An Exhibitor only speaks to the Judge to answer a question from him.
  • You may wonder why the same dog does not win all the time. Breed Standards must be interpreted by the person reading them and this does allow variations. What is the ideal type to me, may not be to you.

That human element we spoke of, that is what makes a Show so interesting – the variety one finds in the dogs, the people and the decisions. Go on then, enter your dog and forget the first night nerves. And the very best of luck to you!

And when you are no longer a Novice you may consider joining a committee or learning to be a Steward so you too can be one of those harrassed-looking people with a catalogue and clipboard.