AWSA fully supports White Shepherd owners and their dogs in the Conformation ring. Conformation shows are fun, social, and
educational for both the owner and the dog! We are fortunate that our club members, while being competitive in the ring, are willing to coach and help new members on the path to Conformation success. The positive attitudes of our members and their willingness to encourage others to succeed is the strength and foundation of our club
Many of the fine breeders (Breeder Referral List) that have signed the AWSA code of conduct and ethics agreement have show-quality pups available, and are happy to assist you in selecting and training your pup for Conformation. If you are interested in Conformation, our breeders are a great place to start! However, AWSA Conformation shows are not limited to dogs from AWSA breeders. AWSA welcomes all registered White Shepherds to the show ring, regardless of origin. Please see the AWSA membership pages for further information.
Our White Shepherds are also shown in UKC, ARBA, and WSCC, in addition to many other clubs and events throughout the USA, and around the world. Likely there will be an event relatively close to you. Come on out and see us in action! You'll quickly see why our white beauties are so special. See you in the ring!
CONFORMATION FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)~
Q: What is Conformation?
A: Conformation is a show event where the dog is judged on how closely he/she 'conforms' to the breed standard. On many websites you may see it called "Confirmation". This is incorrect terminology, as the word is derived from 'conform' or 'conformity'. The dog is viewed by a certified judge to ascertain how closely the dog meets the approved breed standard.
Q: What is a breed standard?
A: A breed standard is a description of the traits that are considered ideal in the specific breed. The characteristics (both physical and personality) that come together to create the total dog. Structure, movement, and appearance are all defined by the breed standard.
Q: What is angulation?
A: Angulation is a term that refers to the angles that are created in a dog's structure where the bones meet their given joints. The dog's appearance and movement hinge on angulation a great deal. Front angulation is the angle formed by the meeting of the shoulder blade with the upper front leg. Rear angulation is usually referring to the angle formed by the meeting of the upper and lower thigh. A 90 degree angle is considered most desirable in both of these joints.
Q: What is a gait?
A: The way a dog moves is called a gait. The gait of a dog gives the judge a good idea on structural soundness, the temperament of a dog, and his/her general health and condition.
Q: What is meant by the term temperament?
A: The temperament of a dog is the dog's personality and attitude make-up. How the dog interacts with people and other dogs, and how the dog is trained will be dependent on the dog's temperament. Dogs, like people, have varying degrees of sensitivity.
Q: What is baiting?
A: Baiting a dog is the use of an item to keep the dog attentive and alert. Baits can range from edible treats to a favorite toy. Not all shows venues will allow baiting in Conformation (i.e. the UKC). It is always a good idea to be aware of what is and is not allowed in regard to baiting.
Q: What is meant by the term stacking?
A: A stack is a way of posing the dog to appear pleasing to the judge. Typically this will be a profile view. The dogs legs and body are positioned both front and rear to show off the dog's structure to great advantage. In a shepherd the traditional stack is to have the front legs under the front shoulders (not extended or tucked), to have the rear leg closest to the handler brought forward, and the out-facing rear leg (the hind leg facing the judge) drawn back to extend beyond the rump. The dog's head should be held upright and his/her expression alert. This stance allows the judge to get a clear impression of structure, balance, and angulation in the dog.
Q: What is a handler?
A: The handler is the owner or agent acquired by the owner, who works the dog in the ring. The handler is responsible for showing the dog before the judge and for gaiting the dog to show proper movement.
Q: What is grooming?
A: Grooming is the process of polishing the dog up for the show ring. Bathing, brushing, fluffing, and nail trimming, for example, all work to show the dog in his/her best appearance.
Q: What are classes?
A: Classes are specified sections within the show where the dog will be shown. Classes will typically be formed by age, sex, experience, breeding, and whether or not the dog is altered. A listing of classes at an AWSA Conformation show will usually look something like this:
3-6 month puppy
6-9 month puppy
Bred by Exhibitor
Where your dog falls within the age ranges or experience is where your dog will be shown within the show. Except for the Best of Breed class, males compete with males and females compete with females. Spayed or neutered animals are not eligible to enter the regular classes or earn championships. Some show-giving organizations (including AWSA) offer separate classes for altered dogs and they may earn an Altered Championship.
Q: What kind of awards can my dog win?
A: AWSA Conformation shows award placement ribbons (Blue 1st, Red 2nd, etc.) and trophies. The most important award you win is points toward a Championship. You are awarded points when you win the Winners Dog or Winner's Bitch class. *If your animal is altered, see above answer on classes.*
Q: What is a bitch, aren't they all just dogs?
A: A female of the breed is known as a bitch. This is not foul language, it is the correct term in denoting the sex of the animal. A
male of the breed is known as dog. Generally when people speak of their animals, you will here both sexes referred to as "dog." This is simply an all-encompassing generic term.
Q: What is a winners class?
A: The winners class is made up of all the dogs that won in their particular class. Winners Bitch class for all 1st place bitches from
the female classes, and Winners Dog class for all 1st place dogs from the male classes. The winners classes are viewed by the judge to determine Winners Dog and Winners Bitch.
Q: I'm not familiar with the show abbreviations/acronyms, what do
A: Show terms are sometimes abbreviated or made into acronyms to save time and writing space. Some that you may see listed in a show, or in a show result paper, may read like this:
BOB or BB=Best of Breed
BOW or BW=Best of Winners
BIS=Best in Show
BJH=Best Junior Handler
BOH=Breeder, Owner, Handler
BBE=Bred by Exhibitor
BOS=Best Opposite Sex to Best of breed
CH=Champion of Record
OFA=Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
AKC=American Kennel Club
UKC=United Kennel Club
BOSP=Best Opposite Sex Puppy to Best Puppy
RWD=Reserve Winners Dog
RWB=Reserve Winners Bitch
ARBA=American Rare Breed Association
CKC=Canadian Kennel Club
WSCC=White Shepherd Club of Canada
Q: What is required to make my dog a champion?
A: AWSA operates under a fifteen-point schedule. This means that your dog must meet a quota of fifteen points acquired in AWSA shows to become an AWSA Champion. These points must be won under no less then three different judges, and at least two of these judges must award a major (three points or more.)
The break-down for points may appear like this at an AWSA show:
Dogs competing- 1 2-4 5-7 8-10 11-13 14-up Points allocated- 0 1 2 3* 4* 5* *major win
Q: My dog has pink on his/her nose, is this a problem?
A: It is common to see shepherds of any color with pink on their noses. This is sometimes referred to as "snow nose" as it seems to
make a greater appearance in wintertime. The reasons for snow nose are varied, but you can find some answers here if you are interested in why this may be happening to your dog. A solid black nose is preferred in Conformation, but pink on the nose is acceptable.
Q: Why does the judge look at the dog's teeth?
A: The judge is checking to ensure that the dog has a correct bite and has all of it's teeth. The way a dog's teeth align within its
mouth is called a bite. There should be 20 upper and 22 lower teeth. A full set of teeth is preferred, but broken teeth are not considered a fault. The teeth should meet in a close scissor bite.
Q: My dog isn't pure white, it has cream-colored patches. Is this okay?
A: Yes, it is acceptable to have cream- or biscuit-colored areas on the dog's coat. Pure white is preferred, but cream and biscuit areas are very common.
Q: Where do I learn how to show my dog?
A: Attend a few shows if you can. Any kind of show in your area will at least give you some exposure to how a show generally operates. Sometimes you can find dog shows on television (Westminster, Crufts, etc.). Watch them. They can be a valuable learning aid in what to expect. Check with local kennel clubs, training clubs, and private training facilities to see if any of them offer a "conformation handling" class. And lastly, just get in there and do it! Everyone has to start somewhere. Observe what the experienced handlers are doing, and take your cue from them.
Q: I have no idea how to show a dog, will people at the show help me?
A: YES! You are bound to meet many people at a show that are more then happy to lend a guiding hand. AWSA shows are fun and friendly events, where veterans pitch in to help out the novice.
If you have any questions that this FAQ did not answer, feel free to mail us for further information.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT A CONFORMATION SHOW
First, all the classes are divided by sex, all the male dogs go in first, then the females.
There are 4 different classes according to age for pups from 3 months up to 18 months old: 3-6 month, 6-9 month, 9-12 month, 12-18 months.
Then you have the 4 adult classes:
Novice class is for dogs that have not won more than 3 first places in Novice.
Bred by Exhibitor, means that this class is only for the breeder showing their own dogs, (members of their immediate family may also show the dog)
American Bred class is only for dogs that a were bred and born in the USA,
Open class... this class is open to any dog of the same sex... one can even place a pup in this class if they wish, but it's chances of winning would not be very good.. The Open class is usually where you find your best dogs,
Any dogs that wins a first place in it's class will have to go back in the ring to compete with the other first place winners for "Winner's Dog" or Winner's Bitch". Even if your dog has won a 2nd place you should hang around, as once the Winner is picked, from all the first place dogs, the dog that took second place to the dog that just went winners has to go back in to compete for Reserve Winner. The only exception to this is the 3 to 6 month old puppies, they can not compete for Winners, but they can compete for Best puppy, and this is usually held after the Best Of Breed class...
When it is time to start the shows, The ring steward will call your dog's number to go in the ring, they usually go in the ring in the order that they were entered. Once in the ring, the judge may choose to change the dogs places in the line up.
At a UKC show, the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch are called Best Male and Best Female.
It is the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch that get the points toward their Championships. These two dogs have to return to the ring to compete for Best Of Breed, along with any dogs entered who already have their Championships. From this class the Judge will pick a Best of Breed, and Best of Opposite Sex, (If the Best of Breed is a male, then the best of Opposite Sex will be a female) then they will pick the Best of Winners, (this is only between the Winners dog and Winners Bitch).
The first place puppies from each class will compete for Best Puppy and Best of Opposite Sex puppy. There are also classes for
altered dogs where a spayed or neutered dog could earn points toward an "altered" Championship.
The best thing a new person a can do is to attend a few conformation handling classes if possible, but if you can't do this don't worry about messing up in the ring we have all done it, and the people won't be laughing "at you" as much as they are laughing "with you".