Dorsetdog - Holding your own dog show

Useful advice for holding a Novelty/Fun or Companion dog show

Topic Quick jumps

Consider giving personalised prizes to the class winners or Best In Show

Top tip of running a dog show - Beware of complacency.

Just because you know where the venue is and how your show is ran, do not expect visitors to know these things. Most novelty and companion dog shows are held to raise funds for charities. Therefore it is imperative that the show is well advertised in advance with roadside flyers, flyers in local shop windows, etc.

It is equally important that the venue is well signposted on the day with clear large signs so that visitors can find you. Laminated A4 signs do not stand out when a motorist is driving through an unknown village whilst trying to find a field in an area unknown to them. Consider approaching an estate agent to borrow some large plastic signs that you can write on the back of. Prominently displaying large advance signs like "Dog show next left" can make a big difference to your attendance figures.

To hold the most basic of fun dog shows

    • Consider running your show outside of the usual fun show season, perhaps held in a sports venue or large hall.

    • Ask a vet or veterinary nurse to judge your show - and give them a copy of our judging guide

    • Advertise your show on, and display flyers at local vets, shops, and supermarkets

    • Set up a ring of at least 15 metres by 15 metres - it is better to have a ring 20 x 20 than crowded in a 10 x 10

    • Limit dogs to a minimum age of 6 months - No dogs under 6 months of age may be shown

    • Have a list of classes (large writing) on a chalkboard or A frame. A plastic sheet (or cling film) will keep it dry

    • Collect the entry money as people walk into the ring

    • Ensure that the Judge does not have dogs continuously walking round in circles, as this puts the dogs off.

    • Have a Best In Show Class (Free class - chosen from 1st place Winners of all classes) as this encourages people to stay until the end of the dog show

Pedigree and Crossbreed - definitions

Pedigree in the context of Fun and Companion shows means that the dog has a dam (mother) and sire (father) that are of the same breed, and that breed is recognised by the UK Kennel Club. An example is a labrador where the dam and sire were both labaradors who themselves had labrador parents on both sides.

A Crossbreed is where two dogs of different breeds (be they recognised by the KC or not) are put together, or where two Crossbreeds are put together.

The problem of putting two different breeds or crossbreeds together is that the offspring can inherit medical conditions from both parents. It is not a way to breed out known conditions of certain breeds.

Class suggestions for Fun dog shows

Classes will not usually include Pedigree specific classes, but can include Best Pedigree to split from Crossbreed

Best classes are judged on the health of the dog. So the Judge is looking at the eyes, teeth, as well as the movement.

Classes such as Best Pedigree and Best Crossbreed can result in huge class numbers. If this is the case then one can split the class into two - so

    • Best Pedigree Dog

    • Best Pedigree Bitch

    • Best Crossbreed Dog

    • Best Crossbreed Bitch

    • Best Golden Oldie dogs over 7 years of age

    • Best Rescue

If one is holding a fun show with no pedigree classes, but one has a "Best Crossbreed" class - then it is polite to hold a "Best pedigree" class as well!

Other "None Best" classes are true fun classes, and should be judged on the specific look or feature of that class. So for example, Best rescue is judged on the condition of the dog as much as the background story of the rescue - but the judge must consider how quickly the new owner has turned the dog into a socialised pet dog.

    • Fastest sausage eater - Size of sausages should be reduced for smaller breeds. Do consider running heats to make large classes easier to judge

    • Fancy dress

    • Prettiest bitch

    • Most handsome dog

    • Scruffiest mutt

    • Bad hair day

    • Best 6 legs

    • Best local dog (within x miles, or local parishes)

    • Best long haired coat

    • Best short haired coat

    • Dog most like its owner

    • Family dogs (between 2 and 8 dogs who live in the same household)

    • Most unusual brace from the same household (i.e. such as Dachshund and Great Dane)

    • Most unusual braceOdest brace

    • Best brace - (matching pair)

    • Musical mats - just like musical chairs. Carpet tiles or old samples are ideal for this

    • Best trick - one trick per dog. Basic obedience is not a judgeable trick

    • Longest stay down - with temptations. Temptations includes rolling balls, squeaky toy, treats, etc

    • Waggiest tail

and my favourite class title

    • Best Dog or Bitch of dubious parentage - But this can be taken in 2 way

1) In a Companion Dog Club type show, it could be taken as - Dog that looks most like a known pedigree breed


2) In a Fun dog show, it could be taken as - Dog that has so many breeds in its lineage that it is impossible to tell what breed it may have come from

The last classes are usually -

    • The Best of the rest - open to any dog who has not won a rosette in any previous class.

    • Dog the judge would like to take home

The last class should be

    • Best In Show, with Reserve Best In Show

Best In Show

Best In Show (BIS) is a free class for the winners of 1st Place in all of the show's classes. In a fun/novelty show then the Judge simply picks out the dog that they think is the best from the day's winners. The Reserve Best In Show is chosen from the same lineup. It is not a paid to enter class.

In a fun show, the class is partially held to encourage people to stay until the end of the show.

Junior Handler classes

Some shows hold Junior Handler classes. These classes are supposed to be an opportunity for a child to show that the child knows how to handle the dog. So the child is expected to show it's handling skills of a dog, and parents should just let the child get on with it, rather than jointly holding the dogs lead for the child!

Setting up and setting out a dog show

The general show ground

Dog drinking water, cooling point, and dog waste disposal

Fresh drinking water

Organisers should ensure that a large bowl or similar is available near to the ring entrance for dogs to use, and that water is readily available to dogs. it should be regularly inspected to ensure that the water is clean and plentiful.

Cooling point

Where a show is held in hot weather, do consider organising some wet towels in case the need arises to cool dogs down. Placing a washing up bowl on the ground and stack towels in the bowl. Then fill the bowl with cold water. Where the show is held near to a garden or building that has a water supply, then do consider arranging for a hosepipe to be available for fresh water and for cooling any dog down.

Dog waste disposal points

Litter bins or similar with black bins bags should be available for visitors to place wrapped dog waste in to. These bin should be clearly marked for accepting dog waste. The dog waste bin or bag should be clearly marked. Feel free to print and laminate this "Bag it and bin it" sign, and fix to the bin or adjacent post.

Click on the images to view/download a larger version

General points about the show site

    • Do leave space around the ring for the entrants to bring chairs, and parasols for hot sunny days. Allow for spectators to sit around three sides of the ring.

    • Do allow dog show entrants to park near to the ring, but prevent them from parking within 4 meters of the ring so that spectators can sit around the ring and enjoy the show.

    • If your dog show is a part of another show and you have space for dog entrant's parking near to your area of the site, then do clearly mark at the site entrance where the dog entrants can park.

Instructions for the show and a list of classes being held should be prominently displayed. Wind is always a factor at dog shows, so pieces of paper attached to a gazebo will never display properly. One option is to stretch a piece of Safety Netting or Wind Break Netting between some Steel Fence Pins that have been hammered in to the ground. The wind netting might also reduce the gale blowing across the admin table.

Car parking

If your event has parking in a different location to the show, do ensure that the car park is clearly marked in order that the local residents are not inconvenienced. A sign saying "Car park →" pointing up a road, when it is actually in a field at the end of an estate road is not clear signing, whereas "car park → in field" is clear and obvious.

If the car park is away from the show site, do ensure that you have a clearly marked dog waste bin at the entrance to the car park.

There is nothing worse than a long walk back to the car, only to find that the nearest bin has a padlock on it.

Please ensure that a litter bin is provided at the car park entrance, which wrapped dog waste can be placed in.

If your dog show is a part of a much larger event, then please ensure that parking is available near to the dog show ring for all entrants of the dog show. Consider a separate vehicle entrance and/or car park if necessary.

It is not best practice to expect show entrants to walk the dogs and equipment through a large car park or show site in order to reach the show ring. This is especially true if you have a veteran class. A lot of people like to take chairs and other picnic items, as well as bits and pieces for their dogs.


    • You will need to provide toilet facilities. For small events a portaloo will usually suffice.A tent or gazebo should be used for entrants to book in to the classes. Chairs should be available for the volunteers booking in the entry registrations.

Setting up the show ring

Ring surface condition

In order for the dog to be shown at its best to the judge, it is important that the dog is able to walk properly around the ring without obstruction – this includes tripping over agricultural crop stubble .

Organisers of events held on agricultural fields are asked to ensure that the grass path of the parade circuit within the ring has been cut in the last day or so. Watching a Yorkie and other short breeds jumping over crop stubble is not fair on the contestant – and makes it impossible to judge the shorter dogs.

If you are cutting agricultural stubble in advance of the show and will be holding pedigree classes, then you will need to cut a path from the table to the two opposite corners of the ring, and also a path from the table to a point midway between the two corners.

The ring should not be set in an area where contestants spend more time trying to avoid equestrian or agricultural livestock droppings than of showing the dog.

Ring accessories

If you are holding pedigree classes, then an inspection table some 3 ft by 4 ft should be provided for the small dogs to stand on. The table should have a none slip surface or covering. A rubber mat with a piece of carpet on top can be used if necessary. A sheet or towel on top of a slippery table top is not acceptable.

You should provide a gazebo and chair for the judge to sit out of the sun or rain whilst the stewards arrange the next class.

On hot sunny days, the inspection table should be placed in the gazebo for the judge to view the small dogs, and moved out of the way for the judge to view the larger dogs in the gazebo.

You should consider providing a light lunch for the Judge and stewards.

Ring Size

The ring should be large enough for the contestants to stand along 2 sides and maybe partway down the third side. For a 6 class novelty type show, you should consider a ring of some 20 meters by 20 meters. If the contestants are stood along 4 sides then the ring is too small for purpose - so make it bigger next year. Spectators should be able to sit along at least 2 sides of the ring, if not 3.

It is best to have one ring for Novelty and Pedigree classes, as entrants will be registered in both, and delay will occur as contestants hop from ring to ring.

Alternatively, if you wish to have pedigree and non pedigree classes then consider starting the cross breed classes an hour or more after starting the Pedigree classes.

Useful items for marking out the rings

We would recommend using non reflective high visibility marking out ribbon tape (not the expensive reflective tape) to mark out any area. It can be more easily seen than rope, people tend to lean on it less, and can be easily stored on a reel. The ribbon is available from such places as tool hire companies and eBay.

High vis ribbon tape storage reel

Here's a video of how to make a cheap storage reel.

High visibility tape

Plastic electric fence posts

Electric fence posts

High vis tape used outdoors

Traffic cones are weighted, and ideal for using indoors with the High visibility tape.

Traffic cones

Use the type with a ridge

Ideal for using indoors

In these photos, the High vis tape really stands out indoors

More traditional outdoor ring marking.

Construction site netting is cumbersome and can be difficult to transport

Ring Notices / Ring Class Numbers

The class number is the number of the class currently being held in the ring.

You should display class numbers so that people know what class is currently being held in the ring.

We have a downloadable PDF file of large numbers that fill an A4 sheet. See the download page.

If you have a second ring for Agility/ Obstacle course or Obedience, then a notice of that ring’s purpose should be displayed on a prominent notice board.

Notices or information other than the class being held should not be positioned near to the ring entrance as spectators might gather in the entrance and obstruct the ring exit.

It is important to have the ring class number prominently on display at the ring entrance. One method is to fix a transparent plastic A4 wallet on to a board and have all the class details printed on separate A4 sheets. With the entire list in the wallet at the beginning of the show, it is simply a question of removing the last class notice to display the next class.

The class notice should have the actual number as large as is possible on the A4 sheet - so that it can be read from the other side of the ring. It is best to use a clear font, such as Ariel or Veranda.

Here is a PDF of large Class Numbers on A4 that you can download and print off.


Running the show

Paperwork / Stewards' Records

The Entry tent

A gazebo or similar with table and chairs should be provided for volunteers to receive entry forms and entry fees, to issue the dog's ring number, and to enter the dog's name and ring number on the relevant entered classes Steward's Record.

Ensure you have lots of pencils and pencil sharpener, as well as pens, and clip boards. Pencils work in the rain.

During registration, the Entry tent volunteers should be entering each dog's name and ring number on to the relevant class Stewards sheet. This aids the Steward to know who has paid and should be in the ring.

The relevant Classes Steward's sheet should be passed to the Steward when the last class finishes. The class then becomes closed to more entrants.

Entry forms

Every show will have its own style of Entry form.

Ideally, the form should be A4 size with the entrant keeping the top half - which has venue, class list, class fee, sponsors, etc.

The volunteer booking in the entries should write the classes entered on to the kept section, or on to the back of the ring number cards as they are issued - to help the entrant remember what classes they have entered.

The bottom half of the entry form should be submitted at the entry point, and include

    • Name, age and breed of dog

    • Owners contact details

    • Classes being entered

    • Total entry fee paid

    • Companion Dog Club membership number (If a CDC event)

Example of entry form


Ring number

The ring number is the number given to each dog when they enter the show and pay their fees.

The ring number should be printed on thin card, and issued to the dog's handler on registration. It is an idea to write the classes entered on the back of the Ring number card to help the handler remember which classes they have paid for.

The handler should display the Ring number when in the ring, ideally by attaching it to clothing.

The Ring number should be large enough for the Steward to be able to read it from the centre of the ring. 9 numbers on an A4 sheet should be large enough.

You are welcome to download our A4 example of ring numbers, which goes up to 405 dogs.

    • Safety pins (in an open ice cream tub is a good idea) should be available for entrants to pin their ring number on to their clothes. Due to Health and Safety regulations, you should make the pins available, but not actually offer them in case the person pricks themselves - and I am not joking!


Stewards' Records

Other pre-printed paperwork forms should include

    • Stewards' records for each class listing entries (columns for ring number, dog name, dog breed)

    • Forms on which to record class winners, and best in show by the Steward.

The person managing the entrants coming into and out of the ring is the Steward.

The Steward is responsible for ensuring that every dog entered in each class is in the ring, this includes putting a call out for any dog that yet arrived in the ring.

At the end of the class, the Steward is responsible for recording who came first, and this is recorded on the relevant Pedigree/Novelty Class Winners sheet.

The Steward should also record the top three places in the Best In Show class, for publicity.

Please feel free to download and use these examples of Stewards' Records and Class Winners Forms.

Each PDF has a blank template at the end of the file so that you can use them for your own classes if you so wish.

If the show is held under Kennel Club regulations then this information has to be recorded and kept for one year.



It is traditional to give rosettes to the winners of every class, with a larger and more colourful rosette to the Best In Show Winners

As well as class positions, you will also need rosettes for

    • Judge's rosette

    • Stewards' badges

    • Best in Show

    • Best Puppy

    • Best Non-Pedigree

Some shows give rosettes to the first four places, whilst some shows have rosettes down to 6th place. You do not have to award six places in every class.

Traditionally, the shows name is printed around the outside of the rosette, with the place position in the middle. By leaving the class name off the rosette allows the rosettes to be used for all classes, reducing cost.

Show organisers should also consider a "Special" rosette. The special rosette allows the judge to give a rosette to a dog that would have come in an equal position, or for example to a dog entered in the Most handsome dog class, but awarded for being the "Most cute in show"

Also consider two special rosettes for the veteran class. Give the Special rosettes to the oldest dog and oldest bitch in the class. The veteran class should not be judged by the age of the dog, with the oldest dog winning.

Whilst there is no set colour for positions, the most recognised colour sequences are

1st Red

2nd Blue

3rd Yellow

4th Green

5th White

6th Violet

Special Purple/Silver


Some shows award certificates as well as rosettes.

The certificates can be A5 or A4 in size and of a decent thickness of card.

It is important to choose a decent readable font, such as Tahoma. Using a script or serif font or italics can make a certificate impossible to read

The certificates usually have

    • The show name in the largest font (maybe Tahoma 60)

    • The show date in a medium font (maybe Tahoma 18)

    • The class position in the larger font (maybe Tahoma 36 )

    • The class name in the larger font (maybe Tahoma 36)

    • The judge's Name in the medium font (maybe Tahoma 18)

    • The class sponsor's name in the small font (maybe 18)

    • The certificate sponsor's name in the small font (maybe 18)

Example of certificate

The Kennel Club's advice on - Organising a Companion Dog Show

Full details at

The Kennel Club have strict regulations for shows that are licensed by them. Companion Dog Shows fall under Regulation F3, which is on page 33 of these regulations.

“I would strongly encourage others to hold Companion Dog Shows. It is such a fun day out for all the family and of course a great way to fund raise for your chosen charities.” Sheila Hamilton-Andrews, Companion Dog Show Organiser

Everything You need to know about holding a Kennel Club licensed Companion Dog Club Show

Why hold a Companion Dog Show?

Dogs have a special place in our hearts and are a vital part of any community. What better way to raise funds for your charity or cause than by holding a dog show, where the dogs and owners in your neighbourhood can join you in raising money as well as enjoying a great day out. Always popular events, Companion Dog Shows attract hundreds of hounds and generate millions of pounds every year for countless important and worthy causes.

Why not unleash the fundraising potential of the dogs in your community by holding a Companion Dog Show?

What are Companion Dog Shows like?

Sometimes forming part of a village fete, or as events in their own right, Companion Dog Shows are great fun events at which all dogs, great and small, pedigree and non-pedigree, take part.

The mainstay of many Companion Dog Shows are the fun or ‘Novelty Classes’ like ‘Dog most like its owner’ and ‘Dog with the waggiest tail’. Use your imagination and schedule some classes that everyone attending can have some real fun with. As there is nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get people coming along to a show, Companion Dog Shows can also schedule classes which allow pedigree dogs to compete head to head in classes such as ‘Any Variety Terrier’ or ‘Any Variety Puppy’. Many people like to bring their new puppies along to Companion Dog Shows to get them used to other people and dogs.

Please note that puppies under six months old are not permitted to take part in Companion Dog Club Shows.

Sounds great, what do I need to do?

You will need to fill in a Licence Application Form and send it to the Kennel Club with supporting paperwork from the charity of your choice and a fee of £10 (2010). The Kennel Club can also provide Insurance for your show for a fee of £10 (2010) (inclusive of Insurance Premium Tax at 5%) if required. Also if you intend to hold Companion Dog Club Classes (see below), you will be entitled to receive promotional assistance for your dog show. Please fill in the relevant section on the Licence Application Form.

Before sending in your completed form, you must inform your charity, or cause, in writing that you are intending to hold a Companion Dog Show on their behalf. The charity’s acknowledgment and agreement to your letter (this must be the original letter and not a copy) should be sent to the Kennel Club, along with your completed application form. It is not possible for the Kennel Club to issue the licence without this information.

Why do I need a licence?

Holding a Kennel Club Licensed Show means that all dogs, including pedigree dogs, can compete and join in the fun. Licences are only granted to properly organised events so that all those attending the show know that the money is going to charity and that the show is being run under the high standards set by the Kennel Club.

One of the ways the Kennel Club makes sure that a licensed show is of a high standard is that licences are only issued to shows that are held in accordance with the Kennel Club’s regulations and have a published schedule. The regulations are not complex and are fully explained in an available pack.

How long does it take?

You should not have to wait longer than two weeks to receive your licence (although in the very busy ‘show season’ of April to August it might take slightly longer. The Kennel Club state 42 days prior to the show date in their regulations, but endeavour to process sooner). The earlier in the year you apply for a licence, the earlier you will receive it.

Do I need insurance cover to hold a Companion Dog Show?

There are so many ways in which an event could run into problems, it is essential that you always secure suitable liability insurance for any public event. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

Another way the Kennel Club ensures that licensed events are of a high standard is by stipulating that the licence will only be valid if a current Public Liability Insurance Document is held and is on display on the day(s) of the show. This is for the safety of all those attending the show and to protect you, the organiser.

The Kennel Club, in partnership with Agria Pet Insurance Ltd, have introduced a Public Liability Insurance for Companion Dog Shows. The premium is just £10 (2010) (inclusive of insurance premium tax at 5%) and to take advantage of this great offer for your show, you only need to tick the appropriate box on the application form and send it with a £10 (2010) fee to the Kennel Club, at the same time you apply for your licence. This offer is available to shows taking place in England, Scotland and Wales.

Are there any other safety tips I should bear in mind?

Companion Dog Shows are most typically held over the summer and dogs suffer terribly if they are left in hot cars – even for short periods of time. This notice must be included on your Schedule and Entry Form, to make all competitors aware of this.

What sort of classes can I hold at my show?

It is possible to hold both pedigree and novelty classes at your show. For detailed information of the Regulations for a Companion Dog Show, go to the Show Regulations page. This information forms the basis for your schedule, as shown in the Specimen Schedule.

For a successful show which includes all the dogs in the community, you must schedule some pedigree classes. We can only licence shows that include these classes.

Also you might want to think about scheduling a Companion Dog Club class as this will mean that the Kennel Club will help to publicise your event for free.

Companion Dog Club Novelty Classes

These can consist of similar novelty classes as listed in the specimen schedule, for example: Dog with the waggiest tale, Most handsome dog or you can choose other classes such as OAP (dogs over 8) etc. The only limit on the range and number of classes you hold is your imagination. So you can be as creative as you like – but remember the easier the class is to enter, the more entries you will receive. Remember no pedigree classes should be scheduled. Whatever classes you have chosen, it must be listed accurately on the schedule, as this helps to prepare the entrants and their dog on the day.

For ideas which may assist you in creating popular novelty classes you might wish to hold, please see the sample specimen schedule.

Hold a Companion Dog Club Class and the Kennel Club will promote your event for free!

Once you have confirmed that your event will hold a Companion Dog Club class the Kennel Club will help you market this by:

•Listing on The Companion Dog Club section of the Kennel Club website

•Listing in the Kennel Gazette (the Kennel Club’s flagship publication sent to 8,500 subscribers). Please note you must send in your application form three months in advance of the show date, in order to meet the publication's monthly deadlines.

•Access to the online special interest group, exclusive to Companion Dog Club members. This new section contains news on up and coming Companion Dog Shows with CDC classes, features on Member of the Month, Special Offers, news and lots more..

For Promotional Assistance: Please fill in the relevant section on the Licence Application Form along with your license request and return the completed form to Canine Activities to gain your free publicity.

How do I find a suitable judge for my show?

Why not get in touch with your local dog club and see if they can recommend a good local judge? Making contact with your local clubs may mean that you can get the support of their members for your event.

Contact the Kennel Club to get a full list of clubs in your area - see below for details.

Can I hold a Companion Dog Show as part of another dog show?

Yes, Companion Dog Shows are often held as part of other Kennel Club licensed events, but a separate licence must still be applied for.

The Kennel Club has no jurisdiction over Hunt Terrier and Lurcher Shows, however, if these shows are scheduled they must be held as a separate event and not as part of the Companion Dog Show.

Who can tell me more?

If you would like to discuss your event in more detail with one of our specialists, or would just like some advice, contact the Kennel Clubs Canine Activities Services Team on 0844 463 3980 or email Lauren Lowe.

Holding a Companion Dog Club Class

The Companion Dog Club is all about people and their dogs. Open to both crossbreed and pedigree dogs alike, it is a great way to become part of the dog community and celebrate a dog’s company with others.

With over 6,000 members throughout the UK Companion Dog Club members have proved themselves to be loyal and enthusiastic dog show participants, taking part in Companion Dog Club classes throughout the country.

Hold a Companion Dog Club Class and we’ll promote your event for free!

Once you have confirmed that your event will hold a Companion Dog Club class we will help you market this by:

    • Listing on

    • Listing in the Kennel Gazette (the Kennel Club’s flagship publication sent to 8,500 subscribers)

    • Access to the online special interest group, exclusive to Companion Dog Club members. This new section contains news on up and coming Companion Dog Shows with CDC classes, features on Member of the Month, Special Offers, news and lots more.

Please fill out and return the downloadable Promotional Assistance Form to gain free publicity from the Kennel Club.

What are Companion Dog Club classes?

Companion Dog Club classes are an exciting feature of any Companion Dog Show.

Exclusively available to Companion Dog Club members, classes enable them to compete for their rightful share of the limelight as well as the chance to win great prizes.

Companion Dog Show Organiser of the Year

As an added incentive Companion Dog Club members who organise Companion Dog Shows are also eligible to be nominated for Organiser of the Year. Established in 2007, members are already rallying their friends and families to help prove why their shows are the best.

To qualify, the Kennel Club are looking for entries from those special people who work hard to put on fantastic dog events and raise the much needed funds for a wide range of causes. If this sounds like you or someone that you know, we want to hear from you.

The CDC Organiser of the year will be announced at Discover Dogs at Earls Court, held each November, call 0844 463 3980 to apply.

Ideas that will impress the Kennel Club judges are:

    • Have run at least one CDC class per show

    • Have generated over £1000 for charitable causes

    • Have a minimum of five CDC members in a CDC class

    • Feedback details of the winners of the CDC class with photographs so that they can be featured in the members newsletter

    • Has made the effort or actively recruited new CDC members at their show