“Conformation” is the official name for “dog shows.” While they may seem glamorous, the true purpose of conformation showing is to evaluate breeding stock. The dog’s conformation—his overall appearance and structure—is an indication of the dog’s ability to produce quality purebred puppies, and that is what is being judged in the ring. That’s why mixed-breeds and spayed or neutered purebreds are not eligible to compete. Many times a new exhibitor will get started in dog shows by finding a mentor, usually the breeder they acquired their puppy from. Many AKC clubs also offer handling classes to teach owners how to present their purebred dog to a judge at a dog show.edit text
Even if you don't recognize it by name, you have probably seen an agility competition. Designed to demonstrate a dog's willingness to work with his handler in a variety of situations, agility is an athletic event that requires conditioning, concentration, training, and teamwork. Dogs and handlers must negotiate an obstacle course while racing against the clock. Agility is a great form of exercise for both dog and handler, and a fun way to bond. And you don't have to compete to enjoy agility. Taking an agility class offers many other benefits. But many people start the sport just for fun, only to get bitten by the agility bug and become lifelong competitors!
Obedience trials showcase dogs that have been trained and conditioned to behave well at home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs. AKC Obedience trials allow exhibitors and their dogs to enjoy companionship and competition as they proudly earn AKC titles.
AKC Rally® is a companion sport to AKC Obedience. It too requires teamwork between dog and handler along with performance skills similar to obedience. Rally provides an excellent introduction to AKC events for new dogs and handlers, and can provide a challenging opportunity for competitors in other events to strengthen their skills. All dogs are eligible to compete in rally.
The purpose of non-competitive herding tests is to offer owners of herding breeds a standardized gauge by which a dog’s basic instinct and trainability are measured. The initial test is called the “Instinct Test,” and the dog needs no training before entering this class. The judge is looking for the dog’s ability to move and control livestock by fetching or driving. The purpose of the competitive herding trial program is to preserve and develop the herding skills inherent in the herding breeds, and to demonstrate that they can perform the useful functions for which they were originally bred.
Tests for field trials were developed to encourage hunting dogs to compete, and thereby improving their field performance. These tests originated in England, around 1866. Field trials are separated into four components, based on the hunting characteristics of the breeds involved. These include Pointing, Flushing, and Retrieving Breeds, and Scenting and Trailing Hounds.
Dogs have a very keen sense of smell—100,000 times stronger than humans! That’s why dogs are often used to find lost people and animals, drugs, avalanche and disaster victims, and even to detect cancer and oncoming seizures. AKC Tracking is a canine sport that demonstrates a dog’s natural ability to recognize and follow a scent, and is the foundation of canine search and rescue work. In tracking the dog is completely in charge, because only he knows how to use his nose to find and follow the track. For many, the greatest pleasure of tracking are the hours spent outside, training and interacting with their dogs.
Lure coursing is a system of mechanized lures and pulleys that simulate the unpredictability of chasing live prey. Dogs of eligible breeds—sighthounds—are evaluated for follow, speed, agility, endurance, and overall ability as they pursue an artificial lure zigzagging across an open field.
The purpose of non-competitive earthdog tests is to offer breeders and owners of small terriers and Dachshunds a standardized gauge to measure their dogs' natural aptitude and trained hunting and working behaviors when exposed to an underground hunting situation. The non-competitive program begins with a basic introduction to “den work and quarry” and progresses through gradual steps to require the dog to demonstrate that it is willing to perform the required tasks, including seeking and locating its quarry underground. Fear not, rodent lovers: The rats are safely caged and are not harmed. In fact, many participants keep rats as pets for use in earthdog trials