Canada Dog Shows

by Kris Reid

The same, but different

At first glance, dog shows in Canada look pretty much like the ones in the States. Dogs earn points with the same maximum - five - in any given show, there are Winners Dogs and Winners Bitches and Best of Winners. Best of Breed winners compete for group placements. All the recognized breeds are divided into seven groups. We even speak the same language, even if we insert an "eh?" at the end of most sentences and talk incessantly about the weather.

But on closer inspection the similarities are only skin deep. To get the most enjoyment out of your Canadian dog show experience you should start by realizing that we have a totally different system with rules and regulations all its own. The hierarchy is the same, class dog to Best in Show, but the implementation differs vastly from US shows.

Before you pack your bags

To show your dog in Canada, it need not be registered with CKC, but you will have to get an Event Registration Number for it, ERN for short. You have 30 days from the first time you show your dog to do so. If you don't, whatever you won here will be cancelled. All premium lists have instructions on how to go about getting an ERN number.

Our entry fees range between $22 and $25 on the average. There are some shows that are a bit more. If you don't have an ERN, you also get to pay a listing fee, which right now is $2.95 per show. Another incentive for getting that number before you hit the road. With a few exceptions, clubs put on two or more shows in one weekend. If there is a holiday attached to the weekend there could be four of them in a row. But although the show giving club is the same and you stay on the same venue, each day is a separate show, with separate entry fees (and listing fees - you can see how those would add up).

Our shows are much smaller than their counterparts in the States. In Ontario an entry of 500 is considered reasonably good. There are only a few shows in the whole country that exceed 1,000 dogs. There are many more of those where the entry is between 200 and 300 hundred. Pugs are not nearly as popular or populous as in the States, either. This year we have seen some shows with the entries in the teens, which we think is fantastic. But there are still several where you should enter your own competition, so you won't make the trip for nothing.

Groups are usually referred to by number rather than name, so it helps to keep your eyes peeled on Group 5, which is Toys. That's where you'll find the Pugs. Most shows have one judge do the whole group at breed and group level, so you are not likely to find listings of judges for individual breeds. There are exceptions to this, notably some of the large shows.

Which class?

All shows offer two puppy classes, which are divided by age. We call them Junior Puppy, which is for puppies 6 months and under 9 months and Senior Puppy, which is for puppies nine months and under 12 months on the day of the show. There is a Canadian bred class, which is pretty well self explanatory: the dog entered in this class has to be born in Canada. We do not have a Novice class in conformation anymore. There used to be one years ago, but without any fanfare it has been dropped. I don't think there ever were very many entries in it. We have a Bred by Exhibitor class and this really bears watching. In Canadian shows a dog entered in Bred by Exhibitor has to have an owner that is identical to the breeder. If Mary Doe bred the dog and now co-owns it with Jane Deer, Mary cannot show that dog in Bred by Exhibitor.

Open class is pretty much what it is in US shows, open to all CKC registrable dogs. The class for best of breed competition is called Specials Only. Why, I have no idea. It is for Canadian champions who are registered with CKCor have an ERN. If a dog finishes its championship requirements and has been entered in the classes, it can be moved up to Specials Only, but this has to be done at least one hour before the start of the show (not one hour before the judging of your breed).

How many points did you say we won?

In order to become a Canadian champion, a dog needs to accumulate ten points under at least three different judges. There are no requirements for majors. Calculating the points, though, can get a bit complicated. A dog earns points on the total number of dogs defeated, either directly or indirectly. The scale is the same for all breeds, but because of the scarcity of some breeds and overabundance of others, some are hard pressed to get one point whereas others get five every time, if they win. The schedule of points used in determining the points earned is as follows, and includes the dog or bitch awarded Winners:

Dogs competing Points awarded
1 0
2 1
3 - 5 2
6 - 9 3
10 - 12 4
13 or more 5

What makes our point system so radically different from the US one is that in the case of dog going Best of Winners the number of dogs in competition in both sexes is considered. This is best illustrated by example. Let's look at an entry of 3-4-2-3 where the first number stands for class dogs, the second for class bitches, the third for male specials and the fourth for female specials. Winners alone is worth two points in both sexes. Suppose the winners dog is Best of Winners, which brings the total number of dogs competing to seven and that is worth three points Let's say that the Winners bitch defeats the specials bitches for Best of Opposite Sex. Seven bitches competing, three points. But the male was Best of Winners and defeated the class bitches and indirectly also defeated the Specials bitches, so the number of dogs in competition for him was actually ten, which means he received four points. If you want to keep track of your dog's points it is not enough to know what you did, you have to watch and see where the competition placed as well.

There is also another way of earning additional points and that is by placing in group. Points are awarded for all four group placements to class dogs who have won Best of Breed. How many points can be earned depends entirely on the number of breeds competing and what the placement is. However, no dog can earn more than five points in any one show, regardless of what it wins. The point system is explained in detail in every premium list and catalog. Once you get the hang of it, it really isn't that difficult.

A unique feature in Canadian shows is the Best Puppy award. The judging of Best Puppy in Breed is done after the breed judging and all puppies undefeated by other puppies compete. If Best of Winners was a puppy and there are no puppy specials, Best of Winners is also Best Puppy. As in calculating the points earned, it bears watching what is happening with your competition. Do not entirely rely on the ring steward to take care of things. The judge does not know who the puppies are, except for the obvious - those entered in the two puppy classes. But there could be puppies in all the other classes as well and it is up to the ring steward to keep track of those. But sometimes a puppy doesn't get marked as such. If yours doesn't get called back in and you know he wasn't defeated by another puppy, it's all right to point this out to the steward and get a correction made.

So your dog has just won Best of Breed. Wait, you're not done yet. You have to stay for group judging. You have no choice, if you want to hang on to your winnings. CKC will merrily cancel those hard earned points if your dog is marked absent from group competition. There is only one exception and that is if the dog has been excused by the show veterinarian. The requirement to stay also applies to the Puppy Group judging, which is done after the regular group. If your puppy won no points, there isn't much to cancel, of course, but you will probably be requested to return the ribbon. A good thought to plant in your mind about Canadian shows is that you are required to compete as long as you are eligible, and this ruling applies to all unofficial classes as well.

What time are we judged?

Don't expect Pugs to be judged first thing in the morning. They could be, but just as easily they could be on at noon or two in the afternoon or at four o'clock. In most shows breeds are judged alphabetically within the groups, so even if Toys had an early start, it would still be late morning before the judge gets to Pugs. Groups are judged upon the completion of breed judging, so winning Best of Breed does not usually mean a long wait for Group.

Since Pugs can be judged any time of the day, it is very important that you go to a show well prepared, especially in the summer months in outdoor shows. These do not quite often have natural shade, and you are not allowed to set your dogs up in the show tent which generally is located between the rings. That area is strictly for the dogs waiting to go in the ring. So be prepared. Bring your own shade, as well as lots of water and whatever other cooling devices you use. Better to overdo it than have a Pug succumb to the heat. Some summer shows are very hot.

There are some shows where breeds are judged in haphazard order and group and best in show judging becomes a show case in the late afternoon. These are usually shows that are held indoors at cooler times of the year.

If you want to find out more about the Canadian show system, check out the CKC Web site or call CKC and order Dog Show Rules. The phone number is 416-675-5511 (ask to be connected to the order desk). The booklet costs $4 and CKC will accept credit cards.

© 1995 by Kristina Reid. Used with permission from the author.