top of page

Conformation (Dog Shows)

If you’ve watched the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving, or Westminster Kennel Club on TV, or if you’ve seen the movie Best in Show, you’ve been exposed to the sport of conformation dog shows. They may look like beauty pageants for dogs, and in a way they are. Dog shows were originally designed to identify the best breeding dogs. Dogs are judged against a written standard of perfection for each breed. The standard describes what the dog should look like, how it should move, and what the temperament should be like. Of course, there’s no such thing as perfect, which is why different dogs win on different days - on that day that judge finds the dogs he or she thinks most closely meets the standard.


This is a sport for purebred dogs that can be bred (“intact”). So, it’s not for every dog or every dog owner, but it can be fun and it’s always competitive. Even if showing dogs isn’t for you, it’s a great way to see good examples of your breed and a way to expose yourself to other breeds. In addition to AKC (American Kennel Club) shows, there are a few other organizations that hold dog shows, such as the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the International All Breed Canine Association (IABCA). 

Here's a link to the AKC Conformation information.

Challenges for the Dog

The dog must be willing to allow a judge to touch him all over his body, and learn to stand and move in a way to show off his structure. He must be comfortable in a ring with other dogs, including both in front and behind him. 

Challenges for the Handler

Most show rings are a distance, even from "Handicap" parking. The handler must move at a pace that is ideal for their dog, and put the dog on the table for exam. If the dog will not "free stack," handler may need to kneel on floor to position dog in ideal posture. But  dogs are often handled in the ring by someone other than the owner., such as a professional handler. 

Training Needs

Training is fairly simple, primarily moving with the handler and standing ("stacking") in the breed-appropriate takes practice. The dog should get positive experience in crowded, noisy environments. Havanese should look happy, joyful in the ring, or they're not likely to win, even if they're the best example of the breed in the ring. 

bottom of page