A Glossary of Dog Related Terms,    

        Abbreviations, Titles & Terminology   



An obstacle race for dogs.  Dogs and handlers complete course made up of jumps, A-frames, dog walks, weave pole, tunnels and other apparatus at a controlled pace.  Speed and accuracy are important in developing the skills required for agility.


All-Breed Club

An organized group of dog fanciers, recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and/or the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) to hold all-breed dog shows and performance events within their geographic boundaries.  New clubs are considered "Sanctioned" which means that although they are officially recognized, they are not yet authorized to hold pointed shows.  "Licensed" clubs have successfully completed a series of pre-requisite qualifying events, and are now authorized to conduct official all-breed events which award points.  "Member" clubs are licensed clubs who have opted to have a representative regularly attend and represent their interests as a voting member club of the AKC and/or CKC.  An important requisite mission that all clubs must perform is their duty to educate the general public on responsible dog ownership, breeding practices, and the multi-faceted world of purebred dogs.


All-Breed Show

An event where dogs are judged as to how closely each CONFORMS (hence the term "conformation") to its own breed's written standard of perfection.  Often shows are accompanied by Obedience Trials, Junior Showmanship Competition, and some non-regular class events, such as sweepstakes and futurities or Canine Good Citizen tests.  Exhibitors are usually happy to talk to you about their breed, their breeding program, etc., after they have finished showing.  Please do not touch or feed the dogs without first receiving the owner's direct permission.


American Kennel Club

Organized in the late 1800's, the AKC is a body of licensed clubs whose stated mission is to:


AKC states its' core values as: "The human/animal bond, which is perpetuated and supported by purpose-bred dogs for companionship, sport, work, service, etc., is valuable.  Dogs bring joy and people who keep dogs as pets feel safer and live longer.  All dogs are wonderful, but purpose bred or purebred dogs are more predictable in many important ways than random-bred dogs and therefore make better pets. Pet ownership is more widespread in the US today than in any other country of the world, at any time in history.  More than 50% of all households have pets; 36% keep dogs, about a third of which are recognizable breeds.  Breeding for type and function to create, preserve and improve breeds ties modern urban populations with the 12,000 year tradition of animal husbandry, now vanishing from the rest of our culture.  In the last 100 years, this country, along with the rest of the Western world, has undergone what many historians call the most dramatic transformation in human history.  It is the shift from rural, agricultural society to an urban technological one.  When AKC was created, more than half of all Americans lived on farms.  Even at the turn of the century, 85% of all jobs were agriculturally based.  Today, less than one in fifty Americans lives on a farm but more than 50% of households maintains positive contact with animals by keeping pets. Very few people have hands-on experience in animal husbandry anymore -- and that make AKC's constituents unique subject matter experts in an area that touches and matters to half of all households.  AKC breeders are the experts, the preservationist, the ones who tie society to its past and support society's present need to maintain the human/animal bond."



A number printed on paper which an exhibitor wears to indicate the entered dog's (or Junior's) reference number in the judge's book and catalog.  This number is the only identification that the judge is allowed access to before and during the competition.



Items used in Obedience Trial competition, which are utilized in exercises testing retrieval on command or scent discrimination.  These can be wooden, leather or metal dumbbells.



When used as a verb, as "to bait the dog" or "to free bait," this refers to using an item of food or toy to gain the dogs' attention; showing expression and animation to the judge.  When used as a noun, it refers to items of food (usually cooked liver, cheese, or other treat) used to bait the dog to show expression and animation.


Benched Show

An all-breed show specifically designed for public education and enjoyment, wherein all dogs are required to stay in an assigned "benching area" for the duration of the show, (except when being exercised, groomed, or exhibited) in order that the public may easily view the exhibits up close and talk to the breeders, owners, and handlers.  There are very few benched shows left in the USA - the ones that readily come to mind are Westminster Kennel Club in New York City, International Kennel Club in Chicago, and Golden Gate in San Francisco.  These are very large, heavily attended shows by the public.  Excellent for the public, but can be exhausting for the exhibitors.


Best In Show (BIS)

A coveted award given to the ONE dog who, at the end of an all-breed dog show, has successfully defeated ALL other dogs of all breeds entered that day - by being judged to be the dog who - on that day, is considered to be the most closely conforming to its own breed's written standard of excellence.  The rosette given for a BIS win is red, white and blue.


Best Junior Handler (BJH)

The award given to the ONE Junior Handler at an all-breed or specialty show, who is judged to have exhibited the highest degree of skill in presenting their dog as effectively and skillfully as possible, by way of defeating the balance of other junior handling entrants.  The rosette given for a BJH win is pink and green.


Best of Winners (BOW)

A competition between the Winners Dog (WD) and the Winners Bitch (WB), held during the Best of Breed Competition, whereby the two dogs are judged as to which one is considered to be most closely conformed to its written breed standard.  The winner of BOW receives the highest number of points given to that breed's WD or WB that day.  For instance, if it was only two points in Dogs that day, and 4 points in Bitches, and the Dog won Best of Winners, he, too would be awarded 4 points.



NOT a dirty word, but the proper terminology for a female dog.  You will get used to hearing it and using it.



Two dogs of the same breed and exact same ownership being shown together as a pair in order to display the breeder's consistency in their breeding program.  Dogs selected to be shown in a brace should display the same attributes, virtues, style and type.  Brace competition is a non-regular competition and no points are awarded.


Bred By (BBE)

A competitive class in conformation, the Bred by Exhibitor class is a breeder's showcase of the specimens she or he is most proud of - and those that they wish to represent the best of their kennel.  Exhibits must be shown by the actual breeder of record - not a handler.  AKC has recently implemented a program to award dogs who finish their championships entirely from the BBE class.  A medallion is given to the breeder as special recognition.



Used as a verb, to breed is to cause the reproduction of two animals.  As a noun, the term "Breed" is used to describe a particular sub-species of animals of similar type and heritage, who have been carefully and intentionally bred to meet certain functional, temperamental, and physical characteristics.  "Breed competition" or "in the breed ring" are also common references to competition in the conformation classes at a dog show.


Breed Standard

A written standard of excellence describing the functional, temperamental, and physical attributes which the dedicated students and caretakers of the breed - via their national parent organization, have agreed upon as the official description of perfection for their particular breed.


Campaign (Conformation)

To enter and compete in a large number of shows with a Champion of Record (a "Special") - in order to obtain national rankings by way of defeating the greatest number of other dogs.  Most commonly done by using the services of a Professional Handler.  Requires a substantial investment and an excellent dog and handler.


Campaign (Obedience)

To enter and compete in a large number of obedience trials at the Open or Utility level.  Points are accumulated with the scores achieved. Top dogs are recognized by the AKC and the CKC for placements in both the breed and group.  An overall "Top 10" list is accumulated of the dogs and handlers that achieve the highest point totals in their respective countries during a calendar year.


Canine Good Citizen (CGC)

AKC's temperament certification program aimed mostly towards the general public as an encouragement to buy and breed only temperamentally sound dogs, and to do at least a “little” obedience training, so that their dogs will be welcome, safe, and happy in public situations.  Dogs and their handlers are put through a series of simple exercises such as walking on lead through a crowd of strangers, sitting on command, standing for examination, response to being left alone for a moment, etc.  Successful participants are given a certificate of achievement.  Although the "CGC" is NOT an official AKC title, many people are proud to list this among their dog’s accomplishments, as it represents that the dog is of stable temperament in public.


Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)

The Canadian Kennel Club is devoted to encouraging, guiding and advancing the interests of purebred dogs and their responsible owners and breeders in Canada.  It promotes the knowledge and understanding of the benefits which dogs can bring to Canada and the means by which these benefits can most effectively be enjoyed.  The CKC cooperates with governments at all levels in Canada in the development of legislation which will effectively control the activities of irresponsible dog owners and breeders without unduly restricting responsible owners and breeders.  The CKC maintains a system of registration of purebred dogs that satisfies the requirements of the Animal Pedigree Act, Agriculture Canada and the Club members.  It maintains a system whereby clubs and associations wishing to do so may hold dogs shows, obedience trials, field trials and other trials, tests and activities for purebred dogs under the auspices of and in accordance with the rules, regulations, standards, policies and procedures established by the Club.  It encourages and assists persons and organizations engaged in these activities and co-operates with other associations and clubs engaged in furthering the interests of purebred animals.



A document sold at shows which lists each entered dog's entry number, class entered, registered name and number, breeder, owner, sire, dam, and date of birth.  An excellent tool for following along with the competition and looking for patterns in breeding that you prefer, as well as breeders and exhibitors to contact.  If the show also has obedience classes the catalogue will list each dog by class and entry numbers.  It will also list the same information about the handler and dog as for the conformation classes.


CERF - Canine Eye Registry Foundation

A group of board certified Veterinary Ophthalmologists who maintain a registry of purebred dogs that the ACVO Diplomats (members) examine and have found to be unaffected by major heritable eye disease.  CERF also maintains a research database, which consists of information that is generated by all examinations done by ACVO Diplomats.  Reports generated from this resource help breeders and ophthalmologists identify trends in eye disease and breed susceptibility.  CERF is dedicated to educating the public on matters involving canine eye disease.  CERF provides a variety of reports, the CERF newsletter and other eye disease materials to help educate the owner/breeder on heritable eye disease questions, healthy breeding stock, and breed- specific eye problems)



In AKC competition, a Champion of Record ("CH") title is given to a dog or bitch who has won a total of 15 points at licensed AKC shows. At least 6 of these points must have come from "Major" wins (see "Points") under different judges.  A Champion of Record may then enter and compete in the Best of Breed competition, and the "CH" becomes an official prefix to the dog's registered name.  Champions are often referred to as "specials" - usually when they are being actively campaigned.  Champions of Record also used to be commonly referred to as "bench champions" referring to the formerly common practice of holding benched shows.



As a noun, a "choke" is a metal, nylon, or leather collar consisting of a straight piece of the material, usually joined by looping it through one of two rings on each end.  This is the most common collar worn by dogs in the breed ring.  Worn properly, with the pull loop coming off the top of the head, this does NOT actually choke the dog, but rather gives a quick correction to get the dog's attention.  It immediately releases.  A "Hey, knock it off!" signal from the handler to the dog.



Although there ARE actual instructional classes available to learn to handle dogs in many performance events, the most common use of the term "Classes" is when referring to the different class divisions, which are available to show your dog in when entered at a dog show.  In conformation, the "class dogs" (those who have not finished their championships) are divided first by sex (males go in first), then further divided by age group and experience level.


Regular Conformation Classes are:

· Junior Puppy - 6 months to under 9 months - "6 to 9"

· Senior Puppy - 9 months to under 12 months - "9 to 12"

· 12 months to under 18 months - 12 to 18" -  Specialties only

· Novice - for unpointed dogs

· Bred By Exhibitor - "Bred-By" - shown by the dog's breeder

· AmBred - American bred and whelped in the USA

· Canadian Bred - "CanBred" bred & whelped in Canada

· Open - open to all purebred dogs at least 6 months old, but usually containing fully mature dogs

The first place winners of each of these classes in each sex compete for Winners Dog or Winners Bitch.  These two remaining dogs are the only dogs of that breed who, at that show, receive points towards their championships.  These two dogs also compete in the Specials Only class for Best of Breed that day.

In obedience competition, the following classes exist:

·  Novice A - dogs and handlers that are trying to obtain a CD for the first time

· Novice B - dogs and handlers that are trying to obtain a CD that have an OTCH on a dog or are professional trainers

· Open A - dogs and handlers that are trying to obtain a CDX for the first time

· Open B - dogs and handlers that have obtained a CDX or are professional trainers.

· Utility A (American) - those trying to obtain the UD title for the first time

· Utility B (American) - those trying to obtain an OTCH in the US

· Utility (Canadian) - those trying to obtain the UD and OTCH designation 

In obedience competition, dogs and handlers compete for "LEGS" which are qualifying scores of 170 or more out of a possible 200.  To earn a title, a dog and handler must get 3 "LEGS" under at least 2 different judges.


Closing Date

The last date by which entries must be received by the show superintendent or secretary, in order for an entry to be valid and included in the show's competition.  Entries usually close 3-4 weeks prior to the show date in order to allow the club to arrange the judging schedule and prepare and print the catalogs, etc.  Closing dates are always listed clearly in the premium lists, as well as in the AKC's Gazette for American shows.  For Canadian Shows see CKC's "Dogs in Canada" magazine.



How well a specific dog's structure, type and temperament conform to it's breed's written standard of excellence.  Conformation competition is also commonly referred to as "breed competition."  



A containment unit used to safely transport and house a dog during rest periods.  Dogs feel very safe and secure in their crates, which double as their private "dens."  Crates are an ESSENTIAL piece of safety equipment for ALL dogs traveling in vehicles.  Crates function in much the same way as does a child's safety seat, preventing dogs from becoming projectiles, hurled through glass windows during a collision, and taking the impact of a crash.



The lower spinal region of a dog, containing the back of the pelvis to the root of the tail.



"The" international dog show of the year, held outside of London, England each March.



Used specifically, a term to describe a MALE canine.  Generally, a term used to describe the canine species.



abbreviation for the verb to exercise (potty) one's dog - allowing them to eliminate, stretch their LEGS, etc.  As in "I'm going to ex the dogs before bed."



A portable wire-fencing unit taken to shows to allow dogs a safe, clean place to eliminate and stretch out.



In conformation competition, to finish means to have won enough points to be awarded the title of Champion of Record. In obedience, a finish is a transitional movement the dog makes between the completion of a recall, and the return to the heel position.



"Flexi-Lead" is the common brand name of a retractable, spring-loaded lead which allows a dog to wander and traverse at a distance from the handler without getting caught up in the lead itself.  Not used in competition, but a god-send for casual walks and exercises.



A canine sport for dogs: it is a relay race consisting of 4 dogs that individually run over 4 hurdles placed 10 feet apart and retrieve a tennis ball after triggering a box.  The dog must then return back over the jumps with the tennis ball in their mouth.  Once the dog has crossed the finish line, the next dog goes.  Once all 4 dogs have completed, the race is over.  This sport is played with two lanes and whichever team crosses the finish line first wins the race.  Dogs compete for titles as well as for rosettes for defeating other teams.


Free Bait

To use food, toy, or some other enticement to get the dog to stack properly (without physical interaction from the handler) and show alert, animated expression while standing in the breed ring being judged.  The term "free" comes from "hands-free."



A non-regular competition whereby the breeder nominates a litter before it is whelped, and enters the produce from that litter in a special competition (usually held at National Specialty Shows).  The idea is that these dogs represent that breeders best efforts in researching and planning their highest quality litter for that year, based upon their knowledge, understanding and confidence of the genetic potential of the proposed breeding.



The most efficient way of moving for a particular dog.  Most breeds are gaited at a trot or jogging speed.


Garden (The)

Slang for the Westminster Kennel Club's high visibility, prestigious, and well respected benched show held in New York City's Madison Square Garden each February.  Normally held and internationally televised on the Monday and Tuesday of the second week in February each year.



The offspring of a stud dog.



To bathe, dry, comb, clip and scissors a dog to best exhibit its virtues.  Very strict rules and traditions govern "correct" grooming, and significant talent and experience is required to become excellent at show-grooming the coated breeds.


Group / Groups

Groupings of dogs by their traditional functional similarities.  The AKC and CKC currently has seven groups;

1. Sporting - dogs used for upland game bird hunting i.e. retrievers, pointers, setters, spaniels

2. Hound - dogs who track by sight or scent

3. Working - guard, pulling and/or rescue dogs

4. Terrier  - dogs who were bred to kill vermin

5. Toy  - dogs who were bred strictly as small companions to people

6. Non-Sporting  - dogs whose original job no longer exists, or who no longer are used for their original function

7. Herding - dogs bred to gather and move livestock - formerly part of the Working Group

Each recognized breed belongs to a specific Group.  Each breed awards a Best of Breed (BOB) winner to represent that breed in the afternoon's Group competition, whereby the BOB contestants compete for group placement awards of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in group.  The winner of each group's first place award goes on to represent their group in the Best in Show (BIS) competition at the end of the day.



The person presenting the dog in competition.  Often a term used to refer to a professional handler.



An adjudicating official tasked with evaluating and comparing how well, in his/her opinion, and in comparison to the other dogs entered in the class that day, a dog conforms to its breed's written standard of excellence.  Other performance events also have official judges.


Judging Schedule

A small (usually free) publication offered by the superintendent/show secretary which lists when and where each breed will be judged that day, and by whom.  For a complete listing of dogs, their breeders, owners, etc, buy a complete catalog.



A young person between the ages of 10 and up to their 18th birthday, who competes with other juniors of similar age/experience levels in exhibiting their technical skills of handling dogs, ring conduct, and sportsmanship.


Junior Handling

The actual competitive classes offered for Juniors exhibiting their handling skills, which are usually offered at dog shows and matches.  The AKC and CKC offer classes for two age groups, each divided by skill:

· Novice Junior - Ages 10 up to 14, who have won less than three 1st place awards with competition

· Novice Senior - Ages 14 up to 18, who have won less than three 1st place awards with competition

· Open Junior - Ages 10 up to 14, who have won at least three 1st place awards with competition

· Open Senior - Ages 14 up to 18, who have won at least three 1st place awards with competition

The first place winners of each of these four classes compete for Best Junior Handler.



A thin leather, nylon, cotton, etc. piece of material usually with a metal snap or clip connector on one end to attach to the dog's collar, and a loop on the other end for the handler to hold on to, leading the dog around the show ring.  This is not called a leash - which is a thick piece of material used to take your dogs for a walk or compete in obedience.



The area of the body between the last ribcage and the beginning of the pelvis. (In human terms, this would be the waist)  The lower portion of the loin is known as the "tuck-up."



"A Major" is a big win for a class dog that has defeated enough dogs that day by going Winners Dog or Winners Bitch, to earn either 3, 4, or 5 points towards its championship.  The point schedule is different for each breed, sex, and region, depending upon entries.  Also, see "Points" definition below.



An annual specialty show hosted by the breed's national parent breed club.  Usually considered that breed's most important, competitive, and prestigious event to win or place well in.


Novice A/B

Basic level Obedience classes.  Dogs successfully achieving three qualifying scores ("LEGS") of at least 170 out of 200 points (including earning at least 50% of available points for each separate exercise) are awarded the title "Companion Dog" and are allowed to add the "CD" suffix to their registered name.  Obedience classes are divided into two groups; (A and B) - "A" for exhibitors who have not yet added this title to a dog's name that they have either handled or trained, and "B" or more experienced exhibitors who have.  Exercises in these classes include:

1. Heel on Leash and Figure Eight - 40 points

2.  Stand for Examination (In AKC competition the stand for exam is done off leash) - 30 points

3. Heel Free (off leash) - 40 points

4. Recall (return to handler and sit front) - 30 points

5. Long Sit (1 minute) - 30 points

6. Long Down (3 minutes) - 30 points

Maximum Total Score - 200 points


Novice Junior

A handling class for young people between the ages of 10 and up to their 14th birthday who have not yet won three first place awards in a novice handling class with competition.


Novice Senior

A handling class for young people between the ages of 14 and up to their 18th birthday who have not yet won three first place awards in a novice handling class with competition.



A competitive performance event whereby the dog and handler are judged on their ability to execute a predetermined set of exercises which display the dog's ability to adhere to certain commands.  Dogs are scored on their tractability, style, and execution using a very strict scale of 0 - 200 points.  Dogs achieving 3 qualifying scores ("LEGS") of at least 170 are awarded official AKC/CKC titles as suffixes to their registered name.  The three regular AKC/CKC obedience classes - in order of degree of difficulty are:

· Novice - which earns the title of "Companion Dog" or "CD"

· Open - which earns the title of "Companion Dog Excellent" or "CDX"

· Utility - which earns the title of "Utility Dog" or "UD"

There are additional titles available for dogs competing at the highest levels, such as UDX for dogs earning 10 qualifying scores in both Open B and Utility B, and OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion).  Obedience Trials can be held in conjunction with all-breed conformation shows, or as independent events.  In the US 100 points must be collected to earn the title of OTCH, in Canada, 3 UD LEGS earns the title of OTCH. 


Occiput  Occipital Protuberance

A boney section of the skull located at the back of the top skull, also known as an Occipital Protuberance.  This bone, during puberty, or if not situated properly in an adult, creates an unattractive bump (or protuberance) in the shape of the headpiece.  Situated properly, it creates a slight dome to the skull.


Open A/B

Mid-level obedience classes (off leash) which earn the suffix title of Companion Dog Excellent ("CDX") when they earn three qualifying scores of at least 170 out of 200 points (including earning at least 50% of available points for each separate exercise) from three different judges.  Obedience classes are divided into two groups; A and B - "A" for exhibitors who have not yet added this title to a dog's name that they have either handled or trained, and "B" or more experienced exhibitors who have.  Exercises include:

1. Heel Free and Figure Eight - 40 points

2. Drop on Recall - 30 points

3. Retrieve on Flat - 20 points

4. Retrieve over High Jump - 30 points

5. Broad Jump - 20 points

6. Long Sit - out of site - 30 points

7. Long Down - out of site - 30 points

Maximum Total Score - 200 points


Open Junior

A handling class for young people between the ages of 10 and up to their 14th birthday who have already won three first place awards in a novice handling class with competition.


Open Senior

A handling class for young people between the ages of 14 and up to their 18th birthday who have already won three first place awards in a novice handling class with competition.


OFA - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

A research, diagnostic, and registration organization of veterinary orthopedists whose mission is to organize, collate and disseminate information concerning orthopedic and genetic disease of animals.  To advise, encourage control and establish programs to lower the incidence of orthopedic and genetic diseases; and to encourage and finance researches in orthopedic and genetic disease in animals.   The OFA is a diagnostic service and registry for the following:

1. Hip Dysplasia - canine and feline

2. Elbow Dysplasia

3. PL - Patellar Luxation

4. Craniomandibular osteopathy

5. Copper Toxicosis - Bedlington Terriers

6. Cardiac Registry

7. Thyroid Registry

8. Von Willebrand's Disease - Shetland Sheepdog, Doberman Pinscher, Scottish Terriers

9. Phosphofructokinase Deficiency - Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel

10. PRA - Progressive Retinal Atrophy - Irish Setter

11. Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency - Basenji

Parent Club  -  aka National Breed Club

The officially recognized national organization governing each specific breed's independent specialty clubs.  Parent clubs or "National Breed Clubs" are tasked with being the official guardians of their breeds and their written standards and stud book in this country, and to protect the welfare and integrity of their respective breeds.



The area between a dog's paws and its lower arm, which in the front relates to a human wrist area; and in the rear relates to a human's sole of foot.  In the rear, the pasterns are topped by "hocks" which relate to a human heel & anklebone.  Often, this entire rear foot assembly in general is mistakenly referred to as the "hock."  A good way to understand and visualize the components of a dogs foot / leg assembly is to sit in a chair barefooted and rest your weight on just your bent toes.  Your toes and ball of foot would be the dog's "paw" or foot; your soles would be the pasterns, and your heels/ankle would be the hocks. (See also Stifle and Patella.)



The knee joint of a dog's rear LEGS which allow the dog's LEGS to bend and flex as they move.  The patellar joint consists of bone, ligaments and muscle tissue.  A frequent disorder of this joint, Patellar luxation is a looseness or hyperextension of the joining tendons which allows the kneecap to slip off of its "runners" causing pain and inability to move correctly.  Luxated Patellae (LP) can be surgically corrected.  LP is thought to be a genetically inheritable tendency, but can also be caused by injury.



In conformation ("breed") competition, AKC & CKC award between one and five points towards their Champion of Record title - depending on the regional point schedule and/or how many dogs defeated - to both the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch of each breed entered at a show.  To receive the title of Champion in US, a dog must earn at least 15 points; at least 6 of which must come from two different judges, and be "majors."  To receive the title of Champion in Canada a dog must earn at least 10 points, winning points from at least 3 judges.  A "major" is a substantial achievement earned by defeating a large number of dogs relative to that breed.  A major consists of either 3, 4, or 5 points. In obedience competition, points are awarded towards the Obedience Trial Champion title based on scores and the number of dogs defeated.  100 points earns the title of OTCH in the USA. Points are also given out to qualifying scores in the Open and Utility level and accumulate within a calendar year to determine placing within the breed and within the group.  While earning each title scores are given to the dog and handler.  Any score over 170 points earns a qualifying "LEG" towards their title.  Three "LEGS" and the dog earns the title associated with the scores.  In junior handling competition, points are garnered by the number of competitors defeated.  In the most widely recognized scoring system, which AKC is in the process of beginning to track, one point is awarded for each competitor you defeat. (You do not count yourself, as you did not defeat yourself).  The Best Jr. Handler receives one point for each other competitor entered and defeated that day.


Post Sternum

The "breastbone" on a dog.  Located on its fore chest midway between its point of shoulders, a somewhat protruding post sternum is desirable in most sporting, working, and herding breeds - as it is thought to indicate a chest cavity large enough to accommodate lungs and heart expansion as they work in heavy physical activity.


Premium List

A publication created by the show superintendent or secretary which is mailed to prospective exhibitors, listing the show giving club, the date and location of the show, the judges, classes and awards ("premiums") offered, etc.  Premium lists contain forms and fees for entering, and list the closing date by which entries must be received.  You may request a specific premium list by contacting the show superintendent or secretary for the show you are interested in.  The names of the super/sec in the US for each individual show is listed in the AKC's Gazette for American shows.  For Canadian Shows see CKC's "Dogs in Canada" magazine.



The offspring of a brood bitch.



A grouping of states with similar numbers of entries, which AKC designates as a Region for calculating point schedules.


Reserve - or Reserve Winners

See "Winners Bitch" and/or "Winners Dog" descriptions, below.


Ring Steward

A judge's assistant who is tasked with coordinating the logistics of getting the exhibitors and their dogs into and out of the rings efficiently. Stewards check in the exhibitors, answer questions about ring procedures, call in the classes, prepare the ribbons and trophies for distribution, and maintain their own marked catalogs as back-up documentation for official placements.  Stewards are responsible for the smooth operation of their rings, and the comfort of the judges they are assigned to assist.  Some Stewards are club volunteers while others are paid for their professional services.



To exercise and condition a dog usually by walking, jogging, or biking.



A show official (usually an individual person) licensed by the AKC or CKC, and hired by the show giving club to act as the coordinating management for the show.  The secretary usually generates and distributes the premium lists, receives the entries, creates the catalogs, provides the equipment and materials needed, keeps all the records and generates the reports for the AKC or CKC.


Set Up

The area on the show grounds in which you establish your home base for grooming and holding your dogs while you are not in the ring. Hopefully a space close to the rings and with an electrical outlet and some shade!


Side gait

The movement of a dog as it is seen from the dog's side.  Look for how effectively it tracks, and how appropriately it reaches with its front LEGS, and drives off its rear.



A small grooming tool with a rectangular head on the end containing fine teeth with bent tops which is used to separate and brush out topcoat and furnishings such as hock hair.



Slang for a Champion of Record who is being actively campaigned.



A show consisting of only one breed, given by a "Specialty Club."  Specialty clubs are groups of individuals (breeders, exhibitors, pet enthusiasts, etc.) who share a passion for a specific breed of dogs, and who host events specific to promoting that breed.  Specialties usually draw a large entry of dogs, and wins garnered from specialties are very high visibility within the national family of that breed's fanciers.



To cause your dog to stand in a manner that best displays it's virtues.  In most breeds, the dog's forelegs are stacked in alignment with their withers, and their rear pasterns are squarely aligned and presented at a 90 degree angle from the floor.  There are exceptions by breed i.e. German Shepherd Dogs, etc.  One may "Hand stack" their dog by manually placing each foot in it's best position, or else "Free stack" by using a hands-free method of using bait, verbal commands, body language, or lead correction to get the dog to stack itself.



The officially recognized written description of an ideal specimen of a specific breed.  This is the document judges are tasked to interpret when judging in the breed ring, where dogs are judged as to how well they conform to this written standard of excellence.  Original breed standards are written by the national parent clubs of each individual breed, and are then adopted by the Kennel Club of the appropriate county, i.e. AKC/CKC.



See "Post Sternum", the "breastbone" on a dog.



See "Ring Steward" above. The judge's assistant, Stewards are responsible for the smooth operation of their rings, and the comfort of the judges they are assigned to assist.



The curved area on a dog's rear LEGS containing the thighs and patella (knee).  The actual bend of stifle regulates how much flexibility the dog will have to drive off of its rear.



The skeletal junction on the skull's foreface between the back of the muzzle and the beginning of the top skull.  Collies and Afghans have very little "stop" and Chihuahuas, Labrador Retrievers, and St. Bernards have a great deal of "stop."



A show official (usually a professional show managing company) licensed by the AKC/CKC, and hired by the show giving club to act as the coordinating management team for the show.  The superintendent usually generates and distributes the premium lists, receives the entries, creates the catalogs, provides the equipment and materials needed, keeps all the records and generates the reports for the appropriate kennel club.



A non-regular class, usually offered at specialty shows, which are specifically designed to recognize outstanding young dogs and puppies. Winners of Best in Sweeps, Best Opposite Sex in Sweeps, and often all of the class placement winners, receive a portion of the entry fees as prizes for their placement.  Sweepstakes are the only classes where money prizes are normally awarded.



Equipment (collars, leads, grooming products, combs, brushes, shears, etc) used to prepare and show a dog.  Hopefully found in a "Tack Box" when not in use.


Top Line

The spinal section of a dog from its withers (top of shoulder blades) to the end of it's croup (at the tail root).


Utility A/B

Highest level of obedience classes for people seeking to earn the suffix title of Utility Dog ("UD") when they earn three qualifying scores of at least 170 out of 200 points (including earning at least 50% of available points for each separate exercise) from three different judges. Obedience classes are divided into two groups; (A and B) - "A" for exhibitors who have not yet added this title to a dog's name that they have either handled or trained, and "B" or more experienced exhibitors who have. Exercises (all off leash) include:

1. Signal Exercise - 40 points

2. Scent Discrimination Article #1 - 30 points *

3. Scent Discrimination Article #2 - 30 points *

4. Directed Retrieve - 30 points

5. Moving Stand and Examination - 30 points

6. Directed Jumping - 40 points

Maximum Total Score - 200 points

* The scent discrimination exercise is different in both the USA and in Canada,  In Canada, there are 3 articles, wood, metal and leather.  In the USA only the wood and metal are used.  In the USA, there are A and B classes.  Once the UD is achieved in the USA, competitors continue to compete for placements to accumulate 100 points to earn their OTCH designation.  In Canada, there is only the one Utility class, and 3 LEGS earns the title UD and OTCH.



A non-regular but competitive class for dogs at least 7 years old, designed to honor those dogs who have maintained their structural integrity, health, vigor and love of showing into their golden years.


Westminster KC

A very prestigious all-breed /all-champions limited entry benched show held in New York City's Madison Square Garden each February, The Westminster Kennel Club show is legendary.  The WKC show is the 2nd oldest sporting event in the United States, younger only than the Kentucky Derby.  A major social event as well, "The Garden" is an event every dog lover should attend at least once.  Normally nationally televised over two nights. (Also see "Garden" above.)



The point at which the shoulder blades (scapulae) meet.  This critical structural point and its adjoining muscles and ligaments regulate how effectively a dog is able to cover ground with the rest of its front assembly.  The tightness or looseness of the shoulders can make the difference between a sloppy thrown front and a clean tracking one.  The angulations that the shoulders make create the transition between the neck and spine, and contribute to how easily a dog can reach ahead of itself and how it carries it's head.  The withers is also the point at which actual HEIGHT of a dog is measured with a tool called a wicket.  The height of the dog needs to be determined for obedience, agility and Fly Ball competition as it will determine the jumping height of the dog.



To give birth to a litter of puppies.  A pregnant bitch is considered to be "in whelp."  When she is giving birth, she is said to be "whelping."


Winners Bitch

The class (aka "unfinished" or "non-champion") bitch who has defeated all other class bitches of that breed at that show is the ONE female of that breed to be awarded points towards her championship.  The first place winners from each of the bitch classes in that breed that day, compete for Winners Bitch: this would be the 1st place 6-9 month Puppy Bitch, the 1st place 9-12 Puppy Bitch, the 1st place 12-18 Junior Bitch,  the 1st place Novice Bitch, the 1st Place Bred-by Bitch, the First place Can-Bred Bitch, and the 1st place Open Bitch.  After one Winners Bitch is selected, the bitch who originally took 2nd place to her in the classes is asked to come in and compete with the remaining bitches for "Reserve Winners Bitch."  The winner of the "Reserve" is like a "runner- up" and is only awarded points if, in the future, the Winners Bitch is found to be disqualified for some reason and the award is disallowed.  During the Best of Breed competition, which is held after all class dogs (male and female) of that breed have been judged, the Winners Bitch and Winners Dog compete with each other for "Best of Winners."   They may “also” be awarded Best of Breed or Best of Opposite Sex to BOB against the other, already finished champions in the BOB competition.


Winners Dog

Same as above, but for males.  Substitute "Dog" for "Bitch" where appropriate.



For details about what these terms and titles mean, check for definition above.

· AI - Artificial Insemination

· AKC - American Kennel Club

· Am/Can - American and Canadian

· BBE - Bred By Exhibitor

· BIS - Best In Show

· BISS - Best In Specialty Sweepstakes (NOT Best In Specialty Show which is actually a "Specialty BOB")

· BJH - Best Junior Handler - (See Junior Handling, above in terminology section.)

· BOH - Breeder, Owner, Handler

· BOS - Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed

· BW - Best of Winners (see Winners Bitch, above in terminology section.)

· CD - Companion Dog (AKC/CKC obedience title from the Novice A/B class)

· CDX - Companion Dog Excellent (AKC/CKC obedience title from the Open A/B class)

· CERF - Canine Eye Registry Foundation

· CGC - Canine Good Citizen (AKC certificate (not an official title) indicating that the dog has successfully participated in the

         AKC's CGC test, a casual set of exercises testing the dog's skills and basic obedience.

· CH - Champion of Record (AKC/CKC title awarded to dogs who have been awarded at least 10/15 points, including two

        majors in the breed ring, where their conformation to the written standard of excellence for their breed is judged.

        (See "Champion" definition, above in terminology section.)

· CKC - Canadian Kennel Club

· FDX - Flyball Dog Excellent title award to a dog that competes in Flyball and earns 100 points.

· NA - Novice Agility (AKC title awarded to dogs who completes 3 LEGS in AKC novice agility.

· NAC - Novice Agility certificate earned by a dog who completes 3 LEGS in NADAC novice agility.

· OA - Open Agility certificate earned by a dog who completes 3 LEGS in AKC open agility.

· OFA - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - A research, diagnostic, and registration organization of veterinary orthopedists.

         (see definition above in terminology section.)

· PHA - Professional Handlers' Association.

· SAS - Subaeortal Arterial Stenosis a serious genetic disorder of the cardiac system, causing heart murmurs.

· SHDCH - Scent Hurdle Dog Champion. CKC certificate awarded to a dog competing successfully in Scent Hurdle Dog Racing

· TD - Tracking Dog - AKC/CKC title awarded to dogs who have qualified in this first level of Tracking Test.

· TDX - Tracking Dog Excellent - AKC/CKC title awarded to dogs who have qualified in this highest level of Tracking Test.

· WB - Winners Bitch (see definition above in terminology section.)

· WD - Winners Dog (see definition above in terminology section)