Members and member breeders of the Basset Hound Club of Southern California, Inc. attend many of the shows in California, Arizona and Nevada. Most of these shows are listed on our website under All Breed Dog Shows. Dog shows are a great place for those interested in basset hounds to see excellent examples of the breed and to meet their breeders/owners. These shows provide breeders an opportunity to prove the quality of their breeding stock through the adjudication by licensed AKC judges. If you’d like to know if a specific breeder or owner will be at a show we suggest that you contact that breeder by email. Their contact information can be found under Member Breeders.

Dog Shows Explained

Dog Shows

It's all about quality.

How Dog Shows Work

From the beginning, dog shows were meant to be a showcase for a breeder's stock; a place to come and compare the quality of one's dogs with those of other breeders, and by doing so, hopefully improve the quality and health of the entire breed. From start to finish dogs shows are a series of eliminations until the final Best In Show Winner is chosen.

People may claim that they have quality dogs, but the show ring is where this is proven. Licensed American Kennel Club judges use the procedure outlined on this page to evaluate breeding stock. They use a printed AKC Standard that is specific to each breed for their evaluation (see link at the top of this page for the AKC Standard for Basset Hounds). Dog shows aren’t a beauty contest. Once a dog has met AKC requirements they become a Champion of record in their breed. In recent years AKC has devised an additional title of Grand Champion for all breeds as well.

Contrary to the belief of many, prizes at dog shows rarely include money. Most of the time the only “prize” awarded at dog shows are ribbons. A few shows offer additional prizes or “trophies” for winning and very few have cash awards. Showing dogs is very costly.


All canines will be examined for proper conformation. Think of a dog as a machine with many moving parts, all synchronized to move in harmony together. When all the gears fit properly, the machine works wonderfully, but if a gear is out of whack, the machine has difficulty doing it's job. Dogs with the best conformation will move fluidly, according to the demands of their breed standard, look like their breed is supposed to and act correctly as well.

The Classes at Dog Shows

Initial competition is divided by sex; dogs (males) and bitches (females). Each sex is entered into one initial class according to the exhibitor's choice. Available classes are:

          Puppy class (May be divided by age i.e. 6-9 months and 9-12 months)

          Twelve to eighteen months (this is not considered a puppy class)

          Novice - For dogs six months of age and over, which have not, prior to the date of closing of entries, won three first prizes in the Novice Class, a first prize in Amateur-Owner Handler, Bred-by-Exhibitor, American-bred, or Open Classes, nor one or more points toward their championship (optional class).

          Amateur-Owner-Handler – For dogs that are at least six months of age that are not champions.  Dogs must be handled in the class by the registered owner of the dog and is limited to exhibitors who have not, at any point in time, been a professional dog handler, AKC approved conformation judge, or employed as an assistant to a professional handler (effective January 1, 2009) (optional class).

          Bred By Exhibitor (Only for breeder/owner/exhibitor)

          American Bred (Born in USA)

          Open (All ages, regardless of country of birth)

          Breed Competition (For finished champions, Winners Dog - male and Winners Bitch - female)

The Process

Let's begin our explanation with dog (male) classes. All the dogs entered in puppy class are called into the ring together and line up. Each exhibitor wears an arm band on their left arm that bears the dog's entry number for recording purposes.

Each dog is stacked, which is dog show lingo for posed to perfection with all four feet in place, and head and tail in correct position for the respective breed. After a cursory look, the judge will ask the group to move once around the entire ring and then stop where they first started.

Now each dog will be examined separately. Large dogs will be stacked on the floor in a space designated by the judge. Large, short breeds may be judged on a ramp. Small dogs will usually be stacked on a grooming table in one corner of the ring to make it easier for the judge to reach.

During this examination, the judge will be looking to see if the entire dog is put together correctly. The judge will specifically examine for:

          Head shape

          Bite/teeth for proper placement

          Placement of shoulders

          Correct topline (angle of the back)

          Tail set (how the tail attaches to the body)

          Proper leg structure according to breed standard

          Proper coat texture and condition

          Both testicles in males -- Yes, they really check

Then to confirm what the judge has felt with his/her hands, the exhibitor will be asked to move their dog again. This may simply be a straight line down and back to the judge, or the exhibitor may be asked to move the dog in a triangle, which allows the judge to see the dog's movement in the rear legs, the entire side picture of the dog moving, and the movement of the front legs as the dog comes back toward the judge to stand still and stack. Then the exhibitor takes his place in the line up as the judge examines the rest of the dogs in the class.

The judge may finally ask the dogs to move around the ring together once more, and reposition the first four dogs at the front according to what he/she considered the best. Then the judge will point to individual dogs chosen and say one, two three, four. These four dogs will move across the ring to the corresponding number signs, and the ring steward and judge will record the arm band numbers in their records.

This process will be repeated through all the classes in dogs (males), and then each of the first place winners in the dog classes will be called back into the ring to compete for Winners Dog. After Winners Dog, a Reserve Winner's Dog will be chosen in case the original winner becomes disqualified for any reason (yes, this does happen). Then the entire process will be repeated for all the classes in bitches (females) until an ultimate Winners Bitch is chosen.

Championship Points

Depending on the number of entries for each sex, 1-5 championship points will be awarded to each Winners Dog and Bitch, with 3, 4, or 5 points considered a major win. Winners Dog and Winners Bitch are the only canines in each breed to receive points toward their AKC Championship at a dog show. To finish a championship a canine must accumulate a minimum of two majors under two separate judges, and enough single points to add up to 15. It is possible to finish a championship with three 5 point majors awarded under at least two different judges, but this is very rare.

Breed Competition

Now, the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch will be called back into the ring together for Best Of Breed Competition. At this point, Champion Dogs and Bitches who are also entered for Breed Competition will also be called in and placed in front of the Winners Dog and Bitch. The class will go through the entire process again until a Best Of Breed (BOB) is chosen. Here's where it gets tricky:

          A champion will be BOB if chosen.

          A Winners Dog/Bitch will be BOB and Best Of Winners if chosen.

          A Best Of Opposite Sex will be chosen according to which sex won the breed, and could be one of the champions or one of the Winners.

Group Competition

Each BOB winner will report to their respective group for more competition. There are seven groups to which all breeds belong:








The dogs will go through the same process again to select the top four placements in each group and the first place winner of each group will move on to Best In Show competition.

Best In Show

The process is repeated one final time, and from this elite group of the seven Group winners, the best dog is awarded the coveted Best in Show. (All Group winners must compete for Best in Show) Recently the AKC also added a Reserve Best in Show which is sort of like second place.

Attend a Dog Show Near You

You are encouraged to see for yourself what dog shows are all about. There are dog shows all over and certainly one is close enough for you to visit. You can consult the American Kennel Club for assistance in finding dog shows. WE have a list of local shows on our website at All Breed Dog Shows. Here in Southern California most of the dog shows are listed on the Jack Bradshaw website under shows. Many clubs giving dog shows have tours for those who have never been to a show. On the tour the docent will show you a wide variety of breeds and explain what is happening is each show ring you visit. If you are just interested in basset hounds you’ll find that the basset hound exhibitors are a very friendly group. Most of us show our own dogs and we like to show them off and talk to people about them. Please understand, however, that we take the showing part seriously so it’s better to approach us when we’re not getting dogs ready for showing or when we’re showing or after the breed is finished showing and we and the dogs have had a chance to relax a little after the stress of showing.

For more information on the American Kennel Club (AKC), AKC Breed Standards and dog shows click on the logo below:

GCh. Ch. Woebgon's Kickapoo Joy Juice, ROM at Westminster KC Show in 2008 where she was BOS.

LINK: "Why no mixed breeds?" and other questions about dog shows. pdf

This is a printable explanation that may help you understand the dog shows you see on TV. Before you get all settled in to watch another dog show print this out and share it with your family.

LINK: Beginners Guide to Dog Shows. pdf

This is a printable guide for those who are new to dog shows and will help you to understand why they are important and what happens. It also provides tips for visiting a show for the first time.

LINK: Dog Show Vocabulary

Dog shows can very intemidating just because the vocabulary is different. This page on our website helps explain many of the terms used for dog shows.

LINK: Counting AKC Championship Points

The goal of entering AKC conformation shows if for dogs to earn the title of AKC Champion. This is an AKC chart that explains how points are counted and earned for an AKC Championship.

LINK: Counting AKC Grand Championship Points

Once a dog becomes an AKC Champion they can continue to compete for a Grand Championship title. This is an AKC chart that explains how points are counted and earned for an AKC Grand Championship.