- individually registered with the American Kennel Club
- be 6 months of age or older
- be a breed for which classes are offered at a show
- meet any eligibility requirements in the written standard for its breed.
Dog shows, or “conformation” events, are the signature events of the AKC. They highlight the distinctive features of purebred dogs and help to preserve these characteristics by providing a forum at which to evaluate breeding stock. Judges examine the dogs, then give awards according to how closely each dog compares to the judge’s mental image of the “perfect” dog as described in the breed’s AKC official standard, which is established for the AKC-recognized breeds by their parent clubs. These written standards describe the ideal size, color and temperament of each breed, as well as correct proportion, structure and movement.
The judges are experts on the breeds they are judging. They examine (“go over”) each dog with their hands to see if the teeth, muscles, bones and coat texture conform to the breed’s standard. They view each dog in profile for overall balance, and watch each dog gait (“move”) to see how all of those features fit together in action.