The first steps to qualifying your dog for the Westminster Dog show are formally laid out by the AKC, where registration with them is a must. Joining a local kennel club that is breed-specific or handles all breeds is the next step. Your dog must be at least six months old and intact. Spayed or neutered dogs are not eligible, as the purpose of the show is to find the best examples for breeding.
An owner or handler (person showing the dog in the ring) must use proper techniques while grooming and presenting the dog and have familiarity with AKC rules and regulations.
Dogs are expected to be groomed according to the breed standard and you are encouraged to ask your breeder questions and to use their knowledge to prepare properly. It is important that you complete an AKC conformation championship title on your dog. The Westminster Dog Show competition is only for conformation champions.
Invitations, Entry Fees and Forms
If your dog receives an invitation to the Westminster Dog Show it is imperative that you respond by the deadline required. If your dog does not receive an invitation, you are still able to complete an entry form. Deadlines are listed for the current year at the AKC and Westminster Dog Show websites.
The entry fee for one dog is $100. Every entry must include both sides of the AKC conformation form or your entry will automatically be invalid. If you know you are going to have an agent handler for your dog you must document this before submitting your entry form. AKC rules do not allow any changes of corrections once the entries are closed. Only the dog owner or the authorized show handler can sign the entry form. Entries that require a signature upon delivery are automatically disqualified and returned to sender.
The breed entry limit for the Westminster Dog Show, which is an all-breed show, is 3000 dogs and bitches that meet the strict award requirements. All non-invited entries must include the show’s name and date the championship was obtained, or its qualifying major if it is a class dog.
A written description is created by each breed’s parent club as to their idea of the perfect specimen. Standards are no longer just about looks and the ability to produce quality puppies. They now describe specific physical traits such as height, weight, coat, appearance, movement, temperament and much more. Some standards are extremely specific while others are so general that it leaves individual judges with an open interpretation. Your dog must not have any disqualifying faults, for example, a Dalmatian that has no spots.
Your dog must be current on all vaccinations or it will automatically be disqualified. Sick or lame dogs are not eligible to compete. If a dog is disqualified by a veterinarian or is absent from a competition any feeds paid will not be refunded.
The Westminster Kennel Club was started in the 1870s by a group of men who often met at New York’s Westminster Hotel and had interest in dogs.
There are seven groups in all-breed shows, categorized as: Non-Sporting, Sporting, Herding, Toy, Terrier, Hound and Working.
Dogs compete for Best in Breed, move up to Best in Group then for the highest honor, the grand prize, Best in Show.
It is strictly prohibited to bring dogs that are not entered in the competition – there is no room.
Westminster Kennel Club
American Kennel Club (AKC)