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Understanding the breed ring

Have you thought about showing your dog? Showing is not for everyone but, for some, spending a weekend at a dog show offers a lot of enjoyment.

In order to show your dog at an open or championship show your dog must be purebred, registered with Dogs New Zealand (formerly the New Zealand Kennel Club) and entire, i.e not spayed or neutered. When purchasing your dog from a registered breeder, a change of ownership form will be completed transferring the registration to you as the new owner. An owner membership with Dogs New Zealand is also required which gives you access to NZ Dog World which incorporates The New Zealand Kennel Gazette. Within this publication, all upcoming open and championship shows are listed with details on how to enter.

Before you head into your first show it is important that your dog knows what is expected of them. They need to gait on the left hand side beside you around the ring so the judge can view them. The next step is for the judge to run their hands over your dog while your dog stands in a ‘stack’. A stack is when your dog stands still on all fours while being examined. This way the judge can get a full look at your dog and compare it to the breed standard. Every dog has a breed standard, which outlines the ideal characteristics and example of a breed.

Each dog breed is grouped into one of seven groups: toys, terriers, gundogs, hounds, working dogs, utility and non-sporting. When competing in the breed ring, dogs are judged within their breed, by group and by best in show. At the breed level, a best of breed and reserve of breed is awarded, the best of breed then re-enters the group ring and competes against the other breed winners. From here, the best of group winner moves on to be judged for best in show against the group winners from the six other groups. One best in show winner is awarded the top prize for that show. Other in-show wins, such as best puppy in show or best junior in show, are awarded to the dog that aligns best to their standard within that age group.

So other than enjoyment, why show your dog? Well, most do it to have their dog awarded the Champion title. A dog becomes a Champion after winning seven Championship certificates – these are given to the best dog and bitch for each breed at a championship show.

Showing your dog can be very rewarding but be ready for some stiff competition and be prepared to become addicted, chasing the next win with your best mate. To learn more about showing your dog in the breed, ring check out

Championship shows

These shows are for the serious contender looking for Challenge certificates. You must hold a Dogs New Zealand membership and your dog must be registered with them also. Your dog must not be desexed to compete.

Open shows

These are like championship shows in that your dog must be registered with Dogs New Zealand and you have an active membership. No challenge certificates are issued, but entries are taken in advance. Your dog must not be desexed to compete.

Ribbon parades

Fun events for pet owners to learn more about showing dogs and to interact with owners of the same breed. Winning dogs are awarded ribbons. As these are fun events, dogs not registered with Dogs New Zealand and desexed dogs can participate.

NZ breed standards

Interested to learn more about breed standards? Head to

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