What’s In A Title – An Australian Dog Show Champion

| January 9, 2013 | 2 Comments
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A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Stacking For The Judge

A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Stacking For The Judge


What does it take to get an Australian Conformation Championship? How is it different than the United States? These are the questions I hope to answer below.

We have had the good fortune to make new friends, Scott and Bridget Washington of AlpyneAir Labradors in Australia, as they chose to include Zeus (GCH Am/Can CH Gingerbred Celestial Thunder JH CGC) in their breeding program. Shipping canine semen to Australia is quite an adventure and not for the light-hearted. We all celebrated the successful breeding to Ella (Aust CH Kirkdell Destined To Be) and followed the puppies since birth via puppy cam. Scott and Bridget decided to keep a girl and a boy from the litter and we have been following their progress in the show ring. This became challenging as different terms and rules are used and applied in Australia so I set out to decipher this so that Scott wouldn’t have to explain each win and what it meant. Below is my attempt to simplify and share with you – again, this is by no means comprehensive and you should visit the Australian National Kennel Council site for more information.

In general dog shows in the United States and Australia are similar; however there are a few key differences worth noting:

  • There is no concept of a “special” so a current champion must compete in the classes in order to have a chance to win breed and move on to compete for best in show
  • For Labrador Retrievers, there is only one open class; so all colors are in the ring at the same time
  • A Baby Puppy class exists for 3- 6 month old puppies to compete but they cannot win points towards their championship
  • Group placements (1st through 4th) are not awarded; however, Group Winner and Group Runner Up are awarded
  • Best in Class in Group and Best in Class in Show exist (with no championship points awarded) to give dogs more time in the ring in a show situation and earn recognition (sashes and prizes)

The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) recognizes three types of championship titles for conformation:

  • Champion (Aus CH). Dogs must acquire 100 points, including no fewer than 4 Challenge/Best of Breed Certificates won under no fewer than 4 different judges at 4 different shows
  • Grand Champion (Aus GCH). Dogs must acquire 1000 points
  • Supreme Champion (Aus Sup CH). Dogs must acquire 1000 points, including 3 All Breed Best in Shows or 10 Best in Group/Specialty Best in Shows where there are no repeated judges

How does a dog earn points towards a championship? Points are allotted for dogs 6 months of age and over that participate and win the following:

  • Challenge Certificate winner – Dogs. [similar to Winners Dog] Five (5) points plus one (1) point for each dog of the breed exhibited
  • Challenge Certificate winner – Bitches. [similar to Winners Bitch] Five (5) points plus one (1) point for each bitch of the breed exhibited
  • Best of Breed Certificate winner. Five (5) points plus one (1) point for each dog and bitch of the breed exhibited
  • Best In Group winner. Each winner of the recognized seven (7) groups – five (5) points plus one (1) point for each dog and bitch exhibited in the Group at the fixture.
  • Best In Show winner. Five (5) points plus one (1) point for each dog and bitch exhibited in the Show.

The points awarded above do not accumulate and cannot exceed twenty-five (25) points at any one Show.

The main classes are:

  • Baby Puppy. Dogs aged three and under six months.
  • Minor Puppy. Dogs aged six and under nine months.
  • Puppy. Dogs aged six and under twelve months.
  • Junior. Dogs aged nine and under eighteen months.
  • Intermediate. Dogs aged eighteen and under thirty-six months.
  • Australian Bred. Dogs aged six months or over bred in Australia.
  • Open. Dogs aged six months or over and of a breed or variety recognized by the ANKC.

The right side of the chart below captures the competition towards achieving the Best in Show title. The dogs must win their class and then beat the winners of all the other classes to receive a Challenge Certificate. They compete against the opposite sex Challenge Certificate winner for Best of Breed. The Best of Breed moves on to compete in their respective breed group. All of the Group Winners compete for the coveted Best in Show title.

Road to Best in Show Australia

Click for larger version

The left side of the chart below captures some added fun and competition strictly based on the class entered to achieve Best in Class in Show. This part of the competition always follows the Group and Best in Show competition above (so Group competition is followed by Class Group competition, then Best in Show followed by Best in Class in Show). For each breed, a Best in Class winner is awarded (e.g., Best Puppy). The Best in Class winners compete in their respective groups (by class) where a Best in Group for the class is determined (e.g., Best Minor Puppy in Group). Each of the Group winners (by class) compete for Class Best in Show.

A couple of notes about the diagram:

  • Right side of chart trumps left. If a Junior Dog is the Group Winner in the Gun Dog Group, s/he automatically becomes the Best Junior Gun Dog Group winner and can compete for Class Best in Show.
  • Runners Up exist for all levels of the competition. Typically after the Challenge, Breed, Group, or Show winner is determined, the dog that was the reserve winner (lost to the dog that won the particular level of competition) is invited back into the ring to compete for Runner Up.

Many thanks to Scott and Bridget Washington from AlpyneAir for answering tons of questions, reviewing and editing. Best of luck to them on their quest for Best in Show!

Category : Conformation, What's In A Title


About the Author ()

Lorraine has owned Labradors for over 20 years and has bred them about half that time. A good day for Lorraine is experiencing the unbridled joy of her labs greeting her (in the morning, after work, or even after a short trip to the store), witnessing the pure happiness of her labs in the field retrieving or exploring on a hike, and snuggling with (or under) them on the couch at night. A great day is a good day (just described) plus having a litter of puppies around!

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