What is a Conformation Event?
The Poodle has a breed standard which is a word description of the perfect example of the breed. The standard describes the mental and physical characteristics of the Poodle to perform the function for which they were originated, including looks, movement and temperament. Responsible breeders of Poodles are attempting to produce a dog that most closely conforms to the breed standard.
According to the American Kennel Club: In this respect, conformation dog shows are not unlike cat shows, bird shows, cattle shows, horse shows, etc. In fact, for almost every species bred by man there are competitions among breeders. AKC approved judges examine the dogs and place them in accordance to how close each dog compares with their mental image of the “perfect” dog as described in the breed’s official standard. Dog shows (conformation events) are intended to evaluate breeding stock. The size of these events ranges from large all-breed shows, with over 3,000 dogs entered, to small local specialty club shows, featuring a specific breed. The dog’s conformation (overall appearance and structure), an indication of the dog’s ability to produce quality puppies, is judged. Most dogs in competition at conformation shows are competing for points toward their AKC championships. It takes fifteen points, including two majors (wins of three, four or five points) awarded by at least three different judges, to become an American Kennel Club “Champion of Record.”
- A Beginner’s Guide to Dog Shows
- Frequently Asked Conformation Questions
- Explanation of an All Breed and Specialty
Upcoming Dog Shows
The following is a list of Licensed Superintendents who send out information regarding upcoming shows for which they are responsible. You may wish to contact the Superintendents and request to be placed on their mailing lists or visit their websites to find out about upcoming shows.
- BaRay Event Services, Inc.
- Foy Trent Dog Shows
- Jack Bradshaw Dog Shows
- Jack Onofrio Dog Shows, L.L.C.
- MB-F, Inc.
- Rau Dog Shows, Ltd.
- Roy Jones Dog Shows, Inc
Obedience training is the foundation upon which all canine activities are based, whether conformation, agility, tracking, search & rescue, service dogs, fieldwork, etc. Obedience Trials test a dog’s ability to perform a prescribed set of exercises on which it is scored. In each exercise, you must score more than 50 percent of the possible points (ranging from 20 to 40) and get a total score of at least 170 out of a possible 200. Each time your dog gets that magic 170 qualifying score, he’s gotten a “leg” toward his title. Three legs and your dog has become an Obedience-titled dog! There are 3 levels at which your dog can earn a title and each is more difficult than the one before it. You may see levels divided into “A” and “B” at a trial; “A” classes are for beginners whose dogs have never received a title while “B” classes are for more experienced handlers.
Novice: The first level, Novice, results in your dog earning a Companion Dog (CD) title. The title actually describes what is expected of your dog: demonstrating the skills required of a good canine companion. The dog will have to heel both on and off leash at different speeds, come when called, stay (still and quietly!) with a group of other dogs when told, and stand for a simple physical exam.
Open: The second level, Open, results in your dog earning a Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title. He must do many of the same exercises as in Novice, but off-leash and for longer periods. Additionally, there are jumping and retrieving tasks.
Utility: The final level results in a Utility Dog (UD) title. These are the cream of the crop. In addition to more difficult exercises, the dog also must perform scent discrimination tasks.
OTCH and UDX: The best of the best can go on for more titles. Utility Dogs that place in Open B or Utility B classes earn points toward an Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) title. Utility Dogs that continue to compete and earn legs in both Open B and Utility B at 10 shows receive the title Utility Dog Excellent (UDX).
NOC (National Obedience Champion): This prestigious title is earned by the dog who wins the annual American Kennel Club National Obedience Invitational. To be invited to participate in the Invitational, each dog must be ranked in the top 25 dogs in the country by number of OTCH points, or ranked in the top three of their respective breeds by OTCH points.
Working Certificate Tests
The Poodle Club of America, Inc. allows any registered Poodle over six months of age (four months for Instinct Certificates) which meets the performance requirements to receive the Working Instinct Certificate, Upland Working Instinct Certificate, Working Certificate, Upland Working Certificate, Working Certificate Excellent, Upland Working Certificate Excellent, Working Certificate Master and Upland Working Certificate Master.
The purposes of this certificate test series are to test the natural working ability of the Poodle and to demonstrate his interest in birds, his ability to take direction from the handler, his marking ability, his willingness to enter the water, and his trainability.
These tests are designed to enable Poodles with a natural working instinct to pass the Working Instinct Certificate Tests, with some training to pass the Working Certificate Tests and with modest training to pass the Working Certificate Excellent Tests. The Working Certificate Master tests will provide a challenge to trained dogs seeking to advance their skill level in preparation for higher levels of AKC testing. These programs provide an avenue for Poodle owners to enjoy and develop an appreciation and understanding of the natural working abilities of their dogs and to engage in training as a working retriever and upland hunter.
For the Performance Requirements in the Certificate series, please see the links below.
Comparing various levels of the WC and corresponding AKC tests.
Hunting Tests evaluate a dog’s hunting abilities; Standard Poodles are eligible for retriever hunting tests. The dog’s ability to perform is judged against a standard of perfection established by the AKC regulations; theoretically, every dog can be a winner!
Dogs receiving Qualifying Scores at a number of tests achieve titles of Junior Hunter (J.H.), Senior Hunter (S.H.) and Master Hunter (M.H.); each successive title requires more skill. A Junior Hunter title is only a moderate amount of work with a good hunting dog.
Spaniel Hunting Tests
From the AKC Secretary’s Page: Poodles Eligible to Participate in the Spaniel Hunting Tests – The Board VOTED to permit miniature and standard size Poodles to be eligible to enter the Spaniel Hunting Test program. Titles earned in Spaniel Hunting Tests will be designated with a “U” to differentiate the title from those earned in Retriever Hunting Tests (example: JHU). Poodle clubs with documented experience in upland hunting activities can apply to become licensed to hold Spaniel Hunting Tests for tests held after the effective date of this recommendation. This is effective with the Spaniel Hunting Test held in conjunction with the PCA National Specialty in April 2017!
Upland Working Certificate Tests
Upland hunting traditionally consists of walking through the fields, locating birds, flushing them out of cover, and shooting and retrieving them. Upland hunting varies widely from the sparse vegetation of the high desert to the high cover of cornfields, to the dense cover of fence rows, to woodlands. The type of bird varies, based on the habitat. Game birds include pheasant, chukar, partridge, woodcock, doves, various kinds of quail and grouse, and pigeons. With all of them, a good dog makes a valued hunting partner, a role that poodles have been filling for a long, long time.
Rally, the newest addition to Companion Events, is a sport in which the dog and handler complete a course that has been designed by the Rally judge. The judge tells the handler to begin and the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations (10 – 20 depending on the level). Each of these stations has a sign providing instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. Scoring is not as rigorous as formal obedience.
The team of dog and handler move continuously with the dog at the handler’s left side. They perform the exercises indicated by a numbered sign at each station. After the judge’s “Forward” order, the team is on its own to complete the entire sequence correctly. Unlimited communication from the handler to the dog is to be encouraged and not penalized.
The purpose of Rally is not only to demonstrate the dog’s ability to follow specified routines in the ring, but also to emphasize the usefulness of the purebred dog as a companion to man.
In the sport of AKC tracking, the dog must recognize and follow the scent of a tracklayer, a stranger that earlier walked a predetermined path, unknown to the dog’s handler, leaving articles such as a leather glove for the dog to find. Tracking is a team sport in the truest sense. The dog must take the initiative to determine the correct path and lead the handler down the track. The handler learns to read his dog and communicate with him to support him while he works. It encourages confidence in the dog and develops a system of mutual trust between handler and dog. The relationship between man and dog that results strengthens the bond between them, as well as enhancing their teamwork in other endeavors and training venues.
To earn the beginning level TD or Tracking Dog title, the dog must follow a track approximately one-quarter mile long, walked anywhere from a half-hour to 2 hours earlier. There will be one article left at the end which the dog must find, and three to 5 abrupt changes of direction. In advanced tracking, the track is longer, about a half mile, and older, aged from 3 to 5 hours. It has multiple articles the dog must locate and more turns.
Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) tests include obstacles such as ditches, roads, fences, or woods to test the ability of the dog to adapt to changing scent conditions. The dog must continue to scent while overcoming physical obstacles or difficult and varied handling conditions. Variable Surface Tracking (VST) tests are laid in urban areas. They include nonvegetated surfaces such as parking lots, proximity to buildings with the diffusion of scent created by such structures, and the pedestrian and vehicular traffic common in such areas. At least one of the changes of direction must be located in an area devoid of vegetation to test the dog’s ability to work scent on hard surfaces.
Tracking is an exciting sport for handlers and their dogs, and solving these problems is not difficult for most Poodles. Poodles, even the small varieties, generally have a wonderful sense of smell. They enjoy working scent, and learn “nose games” quickly. Their intelligence and appreciation for interesting games enables them to easily learn the skills necessary for successful tracking. With the proper motivation, they quickly learn to follow the tracklayer’s scent, following the route walked to find the glove left behind at the end of the track.
The Champion Tracker or CT title is awarded to dogs that earn all three titles: TD, TDX, and VST.
Agility first was seen at Crufts Dog Show in London, England in 1978 as spectator entertainment between events. It was patterned after equestrian show jumping events and was such a huge success that the sport evolved and became the worlds fastest growing dog sport. The Agility ring allows handler and dog to run full speed, while having to perform accurately and safely on A-Frames, Dog Walks, See-Saws and a wide variety of jumps and tunnels.
Because Agility is growing so rapidly, many dogs have earned progressively more difficult titles, from Novice Agility (NA), Open Agility (OA), and Agility Excellent (AX) to Master Agility Excellent (MX). Additional titles are Jumpers With Weaves (JWW): Novice (NAJ), Open (OAJ), Excellent (AXJ) and Master Excellent (MXJ), which leads to the supreme title of Master Agility Champion (MACH). In which a dog has to earn 750 points by running faster than the Standard Course Time and must also earn 20 Double Qualifying scores (better known as Double-Q’s). A dog must qualify in both Standard and Jumpers With Weaves classes on the same day in order to earn a Double-Q.
The newest Agility titles (as of September 1, 2002) are from the Preferred classes. These classes afford an opportunity for a greater variety of breeds, and their handlers to participate in the sport. The Preferred Standard classes include: Novice Agility Preferred (NAP), Open Agility Preferred (OAP), Agility Excellent “A” Preferred (AXP) and Master Agility Excellent “B” Preferred (MXP). The Preferred Jumpers With Weaves classes include: Novice JWW Preferred (NJP), Open JWW Preferred (OJP), Excellent JWW “A” Preferred (AJP) and Master Excellent JWW “B” Preferred (MJP).
Poodles are especially suited for agility with their athletic abilities and boundless enthusiasm for playing with their owners. Any size Poodle can compete, as the height the dog jumps depends on their height at the withers. Training and competing in agility creates a unique bond between a Poodle and their owner, as both gain confidence in their ability to negotiate the courses and obstacles.