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Dog Shows - Concept and History

16 Sep 2013 | by | Posted in: Events

Dog Shows - Concept and History

Most people often look dazed and confused when I mention that I was attending a ‘Dog Show’ last weekend. Some people have a different reaction and I am bombarded with questions by dog lovers about Dog Shows, “What happens in them?” “How many dogs are there?” “Do they do tricks?” “What are they judged for?” Regardless of the nature of reaction, people are always intrigued by this colourful sub-culture which exists in almost every country in the world.

I was born into a family of dog lovers. My father being a Conformation Dog Show Judge (I’ll come to the concept of conformation dog shows etc. later) it was inevitable that I would be fascinated and intrigued by this world. Given the knowledge I possess in this regard, I will try to explain the history and concept of ‘Dog Shows’ so that the next time someone mentions he/she was at a dog show you can be a part of the conversation rather than take an awkward sip of your drink.

Source: blogs.sacbee.com

Dog Shows initially started at a much smaller scale, not only in commercial terms, but also in terms of number of breeds etc. The world’s first dog show according to records was held in 1859 in the town of Newcastle, England. The organizers of this Dog Show were a group of people who used to hunt as a sport, given the nature of their sport they were bound to have Pointers and Setters. The prizes in this show were guns given out to the owners of the winning dogs. Thus, the first Dog Show was a show which consisted only of two breeds (Pointers and Setters). The Newcastle show was followed by a show five months later in Birmingham, the thing which made the Birmingham show different was the introduction of Spaniels in addition to Pointers and Setters. In 1860 the same Birmingham show included Hounds this time around.

In the above mentioned Dog Shows, there were no particular standards of breeds as such, no one judged a breed on the basis of how well structured the specimen was, it was rather done on the basis of how well the dog performed his job. For example, If anyone owned an Irish Setter, the dog would be judged at how well it set the target for the hunter rather than it’s anatomy.


Source: commons.wikimedia.org

By 1873, Dog Shows became so popular a sport that there was a need to have a Governing Body that would overlook the dog scene. Overlooking included maintaining the Standards, Breeding, Showing and Promotion of certain kind of breed. This led to the birth of “Kennel Club” which was in the form of a gentleman’s club. In 1880 the Kennel Club introduced the concept of Pedigree Registration, this helped the breeders as official records were maintained and dogs became unique in their own way as they were assigned a name and a number in the records.

By 1877, Dog Shows as a sport had found its way to the shores of the United States of America and the Westminster Kennel Club was formed in 1877. The basic purpose of this kennel club was to organize an annual dog show in New York City. This Dog Show became the second longest continuously held event in the United States. The Westminster show in 1887 was followed by the formation of the Philadelphia Kennel Club which led to the need of a governing body in America and the American Kennel Club was formed in 1884.

This was a small peak into the history of Dog Shows around the world, but as everything eventually evolves, so did the sport of showing dogs. Initially the evolution was mainly about including new breeds in the standards worldwide and formation of new rules to maintain breeding and written standards. Eventually what were given form were different types of Dog Shows. Agility Shows, Obedience Shows and Conformation shows are the most popular form of Dog Shows in the world.

An Agility Dog Show is a dog show in which a handler directs his/her dog through an obstacle course and tries to do it in the fastest time with the most accuracy. I personally feel that agility shows reflects the most pure form of relationship a dog and a human can have.

Obedience Dog Shows are shows in which a dog perfectly does a series of predetermined tasks when asked to do so by his trainer/owner.

Conformation Dog Shows are dog shows in which a dog is judged on the basis of how well a particular breed conforms to its set breed standard.

With the above blabber I hope I have helped you in getting some idea as to what a ‘Dog Show’ really is. It is a sport widely followed and loved all over the world by many and it is one way in which a Dog really remains Man’s Best Friend.

About the Author

Sunur Devavrat

Hi, I am a graduate in Economics and am working with DogSpot.in. I was born into a family who loves dogs and inevitably inculcated love for man’s best friend. I have been attending, participating and organizing conformation dog shows for as long as I remember and hope to become a judge as well someday. I play daddy to 3 Beagles and 1 Pomeranian at the moment. I would be sharing my experiences and knowledge with people so as to help them to the best of my ability.

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