How the Breed Ring Works

The dog show morning begins with non-champions competing against dogs in their breed or variety.

All of the males are judged before the females in this order:

Regular Classes

       Puppy 6 months and under 9 months.

       Puppy 9 months and under 12 months.

       12 months and under 18 months.


       For dogs who have never won three first prizes in the Novice Class, a first prize in Amateur-Owner-Handler, Bred-by-Exhibitor, American-bred, or Open Classes, or one or more points toward a Championship.


       This class is for dogs at least six months old that are not champions. The registered owner of the dog must handle the dog. Only exhibitors who have never worked as a professional dog handler or a member of the immediate family or household of a current professional handler, nor an AKC judge, or employed as an assistant to a professional handler can enter this class.


       A breeder’s showcase, for dogs six months old or older and not champions when entries close for the show. The dog must be owned or co-owned by any of the breeders listed on its registration and handled by a breeder and an owner of the dog. Anyone can show the dog in the Winners and Best of Breed classes.

Remember: When dogs earn their championship entirely from the Bred-by-Exhibitor class, AKC gives the breeder a medallion in special recognition.


       The dog must be born in the U.S. as a result of a mating in the U.S., and not yet a champion.


       For any dog six months old, or over.

Of those classes with at least four entries, the judge may award up to four placements.

Winners Class (WD or WB)

In each sex, the first place winners of each class compete for Winners Dog or Winners Bitch. The WD and WB receive points.

Reserve Winners (RWD or RWB)

Once the judge points to the Winners Dog or the Winners Bitch, the second place winning dog or bitch from the same class as the Winner goes back into the ring to compete against the other first place class dogs or bitches for Reserve Winners. Later, if the Winner is disqualified, the Reserve Winner receives the points.

Best of Breed (BOB)

Dogs with championship titles, the Winners Dog, and the Winners Bitch compete for the Best of Breed designation. The BOB receives additional points toward a national breed, group, and all-breed ranking. 

Best of Variety (BOV) 

Breeds divided by varieties because of their coat types or colors, are judged separately, as two different breeds and awarded Best of Variety, rather than Best of Breed.

Nine breeds are divided into varieties: Cockers, Beagles, Collies, Dachshunds, Bull Terriers, Manchester Terriers, Chihuahuas, English Toy Spaniels, and Poodles.

Best of Winners (BOW)

The dog judged as best between Winners Dog and Winners Bitch. If the Winners Dog or Winners Bitch wins Best of Best or Variety, the dog is automatically declared Best of Winners.

The BOW receives the highest number of points awarded to the Winners Dog or Winners Bitch that day.

Best of Opposite Sex (BOS)

The best opposite sex to the Best of Breed winner.

Select Dog (SD) and Select Bitch (SD)

After the Best of Opposite Sex is selected, the judge may or may not recognize one additional quality champion dog as Select Dog and one additional quality champion bitch as Select Bitch.

The Select Dog and Select Bitch winners can acquire points toward the Grand Champion title.

Non-Regular Classes

Dogs entered in non-regular classes do not receive any championship points. Breeders and owners enter their dogs in these classes because they enjoy exhibiting them to the spectators.

Veteran – A competitive class for dogs and bitches at least 7 years old. It is designed to honor dogs with good physical and mental health in their upper years. After a few years of retirement, senior dogs like getting out in public and hearing the crowd cheer for them again.

Many National and Regional Specialty shows also offer Veterans classes for dogs and bitches at least 10 years old and over.

       Brace – Held at the conclusion of Best of Breed judging, a brace competition consists of two dogs of the same breed shown together as a pair, and handled by the same owner. The pair exemplifies the breeder’s consistency in a breeding program, with both dogs possessing the same attributes, virtues, style, and type.

Junior Showmanship

Children from 9 to 18 years old compete in Junior Showmanship classes in Novice and Open divisions. In this competition, the abilities of the participants, rather than the dogs, are evaluated. Junior Showmanship gives youngsters the opportunity to learn about dogs, dog shows, and perfecting their handling skills. 

Four-to-Six Month (Beginner Puppy) Competition

Some designated shows may offer this competition for dogs four months old and over, but under six months on the day of the event. Classes are divided into Groups and the Miscellaneous class breeds. The Group winners compete in Best Four-to-Six Month Beginner Puppy in Show. No points are awarded, but winning dogs receive points towards Certificates of Merit. The Certificate of Merit requires a total of 15 points. The number of points awarded at a show depends on the number of dogs competing that day. Professional handlers are not permitted to show in this class.

Best Puppy Competition

Breed clubs may hold this event at shows. At the conclusion of Best of Breed judging, the judge chooses a Best Puppy from the six months/under nine months and the nine months/under 12 months classes. The winning puppy competes with other Best Puppies in the Puppy Group. The Group winner does not win points, but may win a cash award and goes on to the Best Puppy in Show ring.

Best Bred-by Exhibitor Competition

Following Best of Breed judging at some designated shows, the judge selects a Best Bred-by Exhibitor from the class winners of the Bred-by Exhibitor classes. If the Bred-by dog or bitch is awarded Best of Winners or Best of Breed, the selection as Best Bred-by is automatic. The Best Bred-by Exhibitor competes in the respective Best Bred-by Exhibitor Groups. All Best Bred-by Exhibitors compete for Best Bred-by Exhibitor in Show.

AKC National Owner-Handled Series

Select shows offer this competition. It showcases the quality of the dogs while enabling owner/handlers to compete against their peers. Professional handlers may not enter. Exhibitors must enter the competition on the show’s entry form, but no additional fee is required. During Best of Breed, the judge selects an Owner-Handled dog from the eligible dogs. The winning dog does not receive extra points. At the end of the year, a competition for the AKC National Owner-Handled Series is held at the AKC National Championship.

AKC FSS Open Show

Designated shows hold this new event for FSS breed club- approved puppies. Classes offered are 4-6 month puppy, 6-9 month puppy, 9-12 month puppy and open. Judges award points towards the Certificates of Merit.

Dog Shows 101

Going to a Dog Show

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