Dog Shows

What’s involved and what’s the point?

Dog shows, also known as Conformance Shows, are an important way to ensure that dog breeds are maintained in a healthy way, and consistent with the breed’s purpose. Dogs are judged against a detailed breed standard, which determines the characteristics that a particular breed of dog should present. These are maintained by the national body in each country, and can vary slightly. If you’re interested, there are links to several Shiba Inu breed standards below.

Japanese (Nippo) Standard (translated to English) : here

American Standard: here

Australian Standard: here

New Zealand Standard: here

Shows are held most weekends right across the country with a National Dog show held once a year. Shows are held both indoors and outdoors depending on the grounds and the time of year.

It takes a lot of dedication to become a dog show judge, and kennel or breed clubs who are hosting dog shows will often go to great expense in order to source reputable judges from around the world in order to make their shows successful. Judges are required to know the details of many breed standards by rote, and will make an assessment of a dog in as little as a couple of minutes. This means as an exhibitor, we only have a very small window of opportunity to make an impression with the judge and show off what our beautiful dogs are capable of.


Dog Show structure

How does it work?

There are are few different show formats in New Zealand, but the main one we will talk about is an All Breeds Championship Show. In New Zealand, breeds are divided into 7 groups. These are: Toys, Terriers, Gundogs, Hounds, Working, Utility and Non-Sporting. Shiba Inu and many of their Spitz breed cousins are in the Utility group. From this point there are age classes within the individual breeds who undergo judging for Best of Breed. Once all the Best of Breeds have been selected in your group, they are judged for Best in Group. The dogs which are awarded Best in Group (one dog from each group) are then judged against each other for Best in Show. A more detailed description is outlined below, click to zoom in.

Courtesy of Meg Hamilton

Showing your Dog

There are three criteria that you need to have to be able to show your dog. Firstly, your dog must be pedigree and have the papers to prove so. Secondly, you and your dog must be registered with Dogs New Zealand. Thirdly you need to be a member of a Dogs New Zealand affiliated Kennel Association or Breed Club.

The next step is training your dog for shows. They need to be able to “stack” and run in a way which shows off their gait. Shiba Inu will normally be stacked on a table, so it is important that your dog is used to this.

Once you have those things ticked off and have entered a show, you need to make sure your dog is well groomed and that you are in the right ring at the right time. It is normal as a Handler to wear tidy, semi-formal attire which colours complement your dog and allow you to move freely. There are many examples online.

Once in the ring, always follow the directions of the judge and steward, you will usually be asked to run a pattern in the ring before stacking up your dog for the judge to assess. During assessment, the judge will go over your dog with their hands and check their teeth and bite. It is very important that your dog is comfortable with this type of contact as if your dog snaps or bites at the judge, you will most likely be “refused” and asked to leave the ring. Post assessment, you will normally be asked to run another pattern before exiting the ring. 

Showing can be intense and overwhelming when first starting out and there are many smaller nuances involved. If you are interested in showing your Shiba, please get in touch using our Contact Us page so that we can help out as much as possible.