What is Conformation?

Conformation is the official name for “dog shows.” A dog’s conformation—overall appearance and structure—is an indication of the dog’s ability to produce quality purebred puppies, and that is what’s judged in the ring. Conformation Shows provide breeders and owners a place to exhibit their dogs before an approved judge, who subjectively evaluates how well each dog meets its breed standard and awards them accordingly.

What is a Breed Standard?

Each breed that is recognized by the registration organization has its own breed standard - a description of the ideal dog of that breed. These standards describe the dog's look/structure, movement and temperament - the characteristics that allow each breed to perform the function for which they were originated. A Breeder’s goal is to produce a dog that most closely conforms to their breed standard.  

The AKC breed standard for Vizslas can be reviewed here.

Who can compete?

Any purebred dog registered with the AKC that is 6 months or older on the day of the show, and of a breed for which classes are offered in the premium list, is eligible to be entered at an AKC dog show. Spayed or neutered dogs are not eligible to compete, nor are dogs with disqualifying faults specified in their breed's standard. Dogs must have “Full Registration” to show in AKC conformation. If your dog has “Limited Registration” talk with your breeder.

Check other registering organizations for breed competition limitations.

What happens at a dog show?

You should read the registering organization rule book and we encourage you to go to a show and watch, and be sure to talk with your breeder. Here is a short synopsis of what happens at an AKC dog show:

Dogs (boys) that have not yet earned their championship title, compete against each other in various classes. The dog who is chosen #1 from each class is then brought back into the ring for the final selection and award of Winners Dog. The bitches (girls) then compete against each other the same way and a Winners Bitch is chosen. Ribbons are awarded for each class, which typically include:

  • 6-9 Month
  • 9-12 Month
  • 12-18 Month
  • Open
  • Bred-By Exhibitor
  • Amateur Owner Handler

Next is the best of breed competition, which includes all dogs and bitches who are already champions, plus Winners Dog and Winners Bitch. The judge must then choose the Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex, Best of Winners (either Winners Dog or Winners Bitch), Select Dog and Select Bitch.

The Best of Breed winner can then compete in the Group competition (for Vizslas that’s the sporting group) and then the best sporting dog competes against the Group winners in the Best in Show competition.

Are there different types of dog shows?

There are a few different organizations that offer conformation events other than AKC, including UKC and IABCA.

AKC offers several different types all AKC recognized breeds. Group Shows are limited to a specific group of dogs such as toys, terriers, herding, working, hound, non-sporting and sporting (which the Vizsla is part of).

Specialty shows are stand-alone events for a specific breed, but may be held in conjunction with an all-breed show, and often include an additional sweepstakes competition with a separate judge. Typically a Sweepstakes judge is someone who may want to judge the breed officially in the future, or it may be a breeder or exhibitor who has been asked to judge because he or she is respected in the field.  Additional classes may be offered such as Best Puppy (6-18 months old) and a Best Veteran (over 7 years of age) with cash pay back, special ribbons and trophies.  Winning the top honor of Best of Breed comes with extra prestige at a Specialty show,as they are entitled to then add “BISS” before their registered name to recognize their “Best in Specialty Show” win!

The CWVC currently hosts two back-to-back AKC Specialty shows in July each year. One show is a stand-alone (Vizslas only!) show and the other is in combination with an all -breed kennel club. Be sure to check out our Calendar of Events for upcoming activities.

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