While the point of Conformation events (Dog Shows) is to define the best breeding stock of pure-bred dogs, many responsible dog owners would like to compete in the show ring with their pet dog whom they had altered.
When I got my keeshond puppy, Clancy, I decided I wanted to try every dog sport I could with my dog.
When he reached about 6 months of age, it was about time to think about neutering my dog to make him a better pet and to ensure I didn’t accidentally contribute to the pet overpopulation problem. However, if I neutered my pup, I knew I would not be able to experience the AKC show ring. So, I decided to hastily enter him into an American Kennel Club (AKC) show that was just a couple of weeks away to see how we would like it. I learned a lot while I was there… including that I shouldn’t have been there in the first place because I had a “Limited Rights AKC Registration” which was part of my breeder’s contract to prevent people from breeding then registering their puppies. I did not know this rule until it was almost showtime, so to gain the experience, I went ahead and showed Clancy anyway since the judges wouldn’t know it until after the event. Clancy and I ended up winning a couple of ribbons, but I did get a letter from the AKC in the mail a few weeks later saying that my wins and prizes were forfeited due to his “Limited Registration.”
Though I had little interest in breeding Clancy, I did want to continue to show him. I enjoyed the excitement of being in the show ring and admiring all the other beautiful dogs. Most of all, I enjoyed talking to and learning from the other keeshond owners. So I contacted Clancy’s breeder to discuss obtaining a “Full Rights” AKC registration and was given the option to do so because she believed in us. Responsible dog breeders try their best to prevent people who buy their puppies from irresponsibly breeding them, so I appreciated the trust that my breeder had in me to give me that option. While I thought about the decision (full rights cost more money), I unfortunately discovered that Clancy had a health concern so I decided to get him neutered. There were many other things we could compete in besides Conformation… but here I had such a beautiful dog and I wanted the show ring experience. Then someone introduced me to the United Kennel Club (UKC).
In conformation events, the judge inspects each dog to compare it to what the breed standard is. The dog that most closely compares physically and characteristically to what it is supposed to be, wins. Only those dogs that best represent their breed and have had various health testing should be allowed to breed to produce future generations that uphold those standards. (Breeding should ONLY be done with health-tested dogs that closely adhere to the breed standards with the goal to improve the specific breed of dog. It ends up costing more money than what’s made selling the puppies. It should only be done by knowledgeable breed enthusiasts.) So, that is essentially the reason to show dogs. However, there’s people like me that want to “do it for fun” or to practice for a future show dog career, so it’s wonderful that the United Kennel Club provides an avenue to do that.
You can easily register any dog to the United Kennel Club (after meeting a few requirements) and participate in all of their events. While “All-American” dogs (aka mixed-breeds) do not have a breed standard to compete against, therefore they can not participate in Conformation, there are so many other sports they can participate in! If you have a pure-bred dog, you can cross-register them with the UKC and participate in Conformation. Clancy is registered with the AKC, CKC and now the UKC. We have participated in two UKC Altered Conformation events and won two Reserve Best in Show’s. (Had to throw in a quick brag!) 🙂 Depending on your area, there may not be very much competition amongst your breed… so spread the word for everyone to show their neutered or spayed dog for even more fun! For more information on UKC Altered Conformation events, go to: http://www.ukcdogs.com/Web.nsf/WebPages/DogEvents/Conformation
Best friends do everything together! Be your dog’s best friend! ~SSB
UPDATE (MAY 2013): Clancy and I recently did 4 UKC events in one day and did great! We got our first 2 legs of our Rally Obedience 1 title and got a Best in Show (Altered) and another Reserve Best in Show Altered! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Here he is in progress of winning Best in Show and then with most of his ribbons he earned in one day:
UPDATE (JUNE 2013): Clancy just received his ALTERED CHAMPION certificate in the mail! Woohoo! He now has ALT CH in front of his UKC registered name.