AKC Dog Shows

As I was filling out the entry forms for a few dog shows , I was reminded of how, long ago, in the land before time, BEFORE the internet (~GROAN~ Yes, I am old enough to remember life before the internet), it was so hard for me to locate where the competitions were in order to find my perfect Sheltie.

It's certainly easier now, but I wanted to make it even easier for you find the shows and join the fun.

There are numerous organizations that offer events such as the ones below. I’ll get to what the other clubs offer eventually but start with AKC (American Kennel Club).

Lots Going On At One Time

It starts out as nothing but an empty field with low fencing and some canopies in the early morning.  Sometimes they are held indoors. Then as the exhibitors arrive, it transforms into a bustling center of activity.

dog show tent
dog shows

Most shows offer both the performance trials and conformation competition at the same time. Most are "all-breed" which gives you the opportunity to see just about every breed imaginable.

You can just wander from conformation ring, to agility, to obedience and then empty your wallet by doing some serious canine supplies shopping at the vendors’ booths. When you get tired, you can rest at a less than impressive eating area and consume very expensive, not so exceptional food.


conformation shows
  • Conformation, better known as the “beauty pageant” by people not involved in the fancy. It is also called the “breed ring” by fanciers because that is where each entrant is evaluated by a judge based on the breed standard.
  • Obedience is the rather formal set of exercises to see if a dog will respond to a pre-determined set of cues (sit, down, come, heel, etc.). Any need to repeat the cue or poor response lowers their score.
  • Ralley Obedience is less formal as you are allowed to speak throughout the exercise. It is also pre-set so once the judge tells you to start, you just follow “road signs” (for lack of a better descriptor) left, right, u-turn, down etc.
  • Agility is the sport with the tunnels and jumps, teeter, dogwalk and A frame. It is fast and furious and lots of fun. It will also take the wind out of you if you aren’t in shape!
  • Field Trails are tasks that certain breeds were created to perform, such as the sheltie or border collie entering a herding trial, or a terrier may do an earthdog trial and go to ground to find small prey.
field dog trials
herding trials
  • Lure Coursing is a trial to see the ability to chase a lure. Think greyhound track and you have the picture.
luring trials

While there are other titles that AKC awards for various activities, the events listed are the competitive trials.

The What,When, And Where of Dog Shows

Here's how you find out what’s going on where.

Go to AKC Dog Events Search online. 


  • the time frame you want to search
  • and the type of show you are primarily interested in from the drop down menu. 
  • choose which state(s) you want
  • and then hit “search”.

You will see a chart with all the information you need to go see a show:

  • Club, Location and Show Date are self explanatory.
  • Cost is for exhibitors not for spectators. While there is a fee usually for parking and / or entrance to the competition, it is less than what we pay to compete.
  • Closing Date is the last day the club will accept entry applications from those wanting to compete.
  • Superintendent / Secretary is the person or association organizing that particular event and will handle entry applications and other logistical stuff.
  • Judges. Since exhibitors have their favorites as well as their “when hell freezes over” list of judges, they want to know with whom they will be in the ring BEFORE they put down their hard earned money.
  • Competed last year is only in the Conformation list. The number of competitors in the ring determine the number of points awarded, some exhibitors won’t go to dog events if they don’t look worth their while.  (In the performance events such as obedience ANYONE that does an acceptable job can earn points towards his title.)

If you enjoy your Sheltie, I can almost guarantee that by the end of the day you are going to be salivating to get home and start training for one or another competition.

So to which dog shows are you headed? 

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