There was a time when we were not interested in showing our dogs. I don’t really know what changed our views on showing, but I think it was the allure of possibly owning a dog worthy of an Australian Champion Title, and believing Kodie (with her great structure and type) would be able to title. Our foundation labradors come from champion and international bloodlines, including some famous international labrador kennels. And so, we explored the world of dog showing.
As the title implies, an Australian Champion is an exemplary specimen of his or her breed, and represents the described Breed Standard. He champions the breed.
The official term for dog shows is Conformation, as in, the act of conforming or producing conformity. While some might think a dog show looks like a beauty pageant, it is definitely not. Dogs are not being compared to each other: they’re being measured by how closely they conform to the prescribed standard of their particular breed. Why? Because the closer a dog’s appearance, type, structure and movement represents their breed’s standard, the better the dog’s ability will be to produce offspring that meet the standard and are structurally sound.
The reason we show our labradors is several-fold:
- Our dogs are evaluated as to how closely they conform to the breed standard
- Receiving beneficial criticism from breeders and judges on our dogs’ structure, type and movement
- Meeting and conversing with fellow breeders sharing the same passion
- Observing fellow breeders’ labradors and the general type that is being shown and bred in Australia at the moment
- Learning more about labradors, genetics, bloodlines, and offspring being produced in Australia by seeing the dogs in real life and action
Gaining Championship Points
Each pure dog breed is classified into one of seven groups. Labradors are Gundogs (Group 3) in Australia. Group 3 consists of gundogs such as Retrievers, Spaniels, Setters, Pointers, Vizslas, Weimaraners, to name a few. There are thirty-two registered gundog breeds in Group 3. Click here for a list of groups.
At Conformation Shows, also known as Championship Shows, dogs are judged in group, breed, gender, and age classes, and awarded according to who the judge deems best conforms to the breed standard. The dog (male) and the bitch (female) deemed the best specimens of their breed there on that day are each awarded a ‘Challenge Certificate’ with points that accumulate towards their title, and they then run off against each other for Best of Breed. The challenge is: Who is the best representation of this breed here on this day at this show. After being awarded a Best of Breed, the winner goes on to challenge the Gundog group for Best in Group, and the winner of the Group award goes on to challenge Best in Show!
A Challenge Certificate awarded by an ANKC Judge states: ‘I am clearly of the opinion that this exhibit is of such outstanding merit as to be worthy to qualify for the title of “Champion” and is awarded, with this Certificate, the following points towards the title of “Champion” ’.
Receiving a Challenge Certificate, Best of Breed, or Best in Group award gives the labrador points toward gaining their champion title. A dog needs one-hundred points to be able to apply for the title of Champion. The highest possible number of points awarded at any given show is 25. Points are based on how many other shown labradors this dog has been awarded over.
Therefore, a number of Challenge Certificates, Best of Breed, or Best in Group awards are required to obtain one hundred points. In other words, the dog has to be consistently awarded challenge or breed points in order to be worthy of his title. This occurs under different judges, at different shows over the time the dog is shown, until he gains enough points to apply for his title.
After this he can go on to gain more points towards his Grand Champion title (one thousand points required).
The Dogs Victoria publication ‘Dogs N Shows Booklet’ explains more about shows.
The ANKC Show Regulations publication explains show rules.