Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Dog Shows

  • How do you enter a dog in an AKC conformation event?
    The major dog show licensed superintendents (e.g. Onofrio, MB-F), accept entries through their online system, by mail, or fax. Telephone entries can be made though any of the available entry services up to the time of closing.
  • Who qualifies as a "professional" handler?
    Professional handlers are defined as any person who belongs or has belonged to a professional handlers’ organization (e.g. Professional Handlers’ Association (PHA)), distributed rate cards, or otherwise advertised or represented themselves as handling dogs for pay within the last five years.
  • What is an AKC Grand Championship?
    After a dog earns their AKC Championship, they are eligible to pursue another level of title offered by the AKC. It is referred to as a Grand Championship. Here is some information regarding a Grand Championship provided courtesy of the AKC. See Grand Champion Information for further information.
  • How old must a dog be to enter an AKC conformation event?
    A dog must be at least 6 months of age on the day of the event to be eligible to compete in AKC conformation events.
  • When do show entries close?
    For AKC all-breed shows occurring on Thursday, Friday, or the weekend, entries close no later than the third Wednesday prior to the show.
  • What is an Agent Number?
    An Agent Number is assigned to a professional handler by a show superintendent. When added to the entry form, a confirmation is sent to the handler advising that a client's dog has been entered in a particular show. It provides them with the class the dog is in along with their armband number.
  • How does a dog earn their AKC conformation championship?
    To obtain a championship, a dog must earn a total of 15 points with two major wins (a major win is worth three points or higher). The majors must be got under different judges and at least one other judge must award some of the remaining points. Wins must be made under at least three different judges.
  • For a dog that is competing in Conformation or Obedience, what health-related surgical procedures are allowed?
    Any procedure undertaken strictly to restore the health of a dog would not in itself affect a dog's show eligibility. Such procedures would include but not be limited to:

    • The repair of broken legs, even if such procedures involve the insertion of pins, plates or wires
    • The removal of damaged cartilage
    • The repair of ligaments that have ruptured or been torn
    • Caesarian sections
    • The repair of umbilical hernias
    • The removal of tumors or cysts
    • Gastric torsion/bloat surgery
    • Splenic torsion
    • Tonsillectomy
    • Correction of "Cherry Eye" (when the procedure only involves the gland of the nictitating membrane, and not the membrane itself)

    These procedures apply to conformation and obedience.

    Also, the Obedience Regulations (Chapter 1, Sect.16), state that dogs whose appearance has been surgically altered to correct a congenital or hereditary defect may participate in Obedience Trials provided that the dogs have been neutered. The AKC does not monitor this, although people in Obedience usually keep an eye on one another to keep everyone honest.
  • Can I show my dog using its litter registration number?
    The AKC Rules Applying to Dog Shows (Chapter 11, Section 1) No dog shall be exhibited in a licensed or member dog show, unless it is either individually registered in the AKC Stud Book, or individually registered with a foreign registry organization whose pedigrees are acceptable for AKC registration. A dog with an AKC limited Registration shall be ineligible to be entered in a breed competition in a licensed or member dog show. An unregistered dog with an acceptable foreign after thirty days, either one of these two things must happen for the dog to be shown:

    As of January 1, 2010 a dog from an AKC registered litter must be registered as of the day of the show. A dog can no longer be shown on its litter number.

    The "Request for Extension" form with a letter of notification is automatically sent out after the first time that you show a dog on a foreign number in an AKC event. This form can be mailed to the address on the form or faxed to 919-816-4220.


    The actual request form is not needed for an extension request. A written request can also be mailed to AKC, Attn: Show Operations, 8051 Arco Corporate Drive, Suite 100, Raleigh, NC 27617-3390, or faxed to 919-816-4220.

    There is a Non-Refundable fee of $50.00 for a 90 days extension. If your extension request is granted, you will be sent a letter of confirmation by regular mail within 7 to 10 days. This letter will tell you the length of the extension. You will be able to show your dog under the litter number for the duration of the extension.

    Please note that dogs cannot be shown under a foreign litter number.

    For general information about extensions, you can contact our Special Services Department at ‘awards@akc.org’. If you have questions related to general registration you can address those to ‘info@akc.org’.
  • If my dog is ineligible for the class it is entered in, can I move it to a different class after entries have closed?
    Chapter 11, Section 6 of the Rules Applying to Dog Shows defines the movement of entries that are allowed. Dogs determined to be ineligible, by its owner/agent, for the class in which it has been entered may be transferred to an eligible Open class at a show prior to the judging of any regular conformation class within the sex of that breed or variety. When eligibility of the class is defined by the individual handling the dog (Bred-By- Exhibitor and Amateur Owner Handler), a dog may be moved to an eligible Open class if an eligible exhibitor is not present at the event or is not physically capable of handling the dog. Violations of this allowance will subject the dog to having its awards cancelled for the event. The restriction does not apply to dogs moved to the Open class for eligibility reasons not related to the exhibitor (i.e. dog age, foreign dog, Champion, etc.).
  • Can a dog with stitches be exhibited?
    Dogs that have staples or bandages may not be exhibited. It is the discretion of the judge whether to allow a dog with stitches to exhibit.
  • How can I find out how many points/legs my dog has acquired toward his title?
    Title progress information is available for free in the AKC’s Online Store. On the home page, highlight "Shop AKC". This will cause a drop down box to appear. One of the choices on the menu will be "Enter Store". Click on it. Click on "Log In" at the bottom of the screen. Sign in to your account (or create an account if you don't already have one).

    Once your are signed in you will have several options. Click on "Dog Reports". Click on "Awards Record". Find your dog under dog search. Scroll down this page and you will see "View a Summary of the Title Progression for this Dog". This will cause a box to open that will give you information about any progress your dog has made toward any title.

    If you want to see a complete breakdown of your dog's placements, you can order the Awards Record for $8.00. This will give you a record of every event where your dog got any kind of ribbon. It will show you the date, event, judge, class, placement, and points or legs.
  • Can professional handlers exhibit a puppy in an AKC (4 to 6 month) Sanctioned Beginner Puppy Competition?
    Professional handlers, members of their household and current assistants to professional handlers may not personally exhibit dogs in the Four-to-Six Month (Beginner Puppy) Competition. Dogs that are owned or co-owned by the forenamed may compete in this competition but must be handled by a non-professional handler. Professional handlers are defined as any person who belongs or has belonged to a professional handlers’ organization, distributed rate cards, or otherwise advertised or represented themselves as handling dogs for pay within the last five years.
  • Can a dog entered in a Sweepstakes be owned or co-owned by a professional handler?
    The club offering the Sweepstakes establishes the eligibility for professional handlers. Eligibility requirements and limitations for a Sweepstakes must be stated in the premium list.