I began showing in United Kennel Club conformation when my son was a toddler (around 2000). I have finished two UKC Champions and helped finish a third. My children and I eventually showed that last dog to a Grand Champion. Both my children have shown in UKC Conformation and Juniors with Sarah placing in the top 50 Juniors on a couple of occasions and obtaining Total Junior awards. Since then she has helped others at UKC shows and in one four show weekend, was in the ring close to 30 times. She has assisted with finishing a UKC Championship on a Lab. Sarah and Uhura have finished Uhura’s UKC Ch (due to a lack of Standard Schnauzers showing UKC in this area, we do not think we will finish her Grand Champion). They also have multiple group placements including a couple Group 1sts.
Over the years I have found UKC shows to be more relaxed and friendly. Sadly, they are far less accessible than AKC due to a lack of clubs hosting events. There are major differences between UKC and AKC showing that attracted me to UKC showing. (We show both AKC and UKC – well Sarah does, I am now back up).
In UKC shows, there is no professional handling allowed. If you help someone and accept compensation, you are considered a professional handler. Toys and bait are at the judge’s discretion so always ask and NO bait can hit the floor. If your bait hits the floor, you can be excused. UKC shows can be all-breed, breed or group specific or limited breed depending on the club. You will not see glitz and spritz at UKC shows. You will see people in everything from jeans and nice shirts to suits. With your dogs, you are only allowed to trim, brush and use water on a dog’s coat. There is no chalking, hair spray or any foreign substance allowed. This rule tends to be ignored in the AKC but it is seriously enforced in the UKC.
As with the AKC, UKC conformation classes are divided by gender. There are fewer classes in the UKC:
- Puppy – 6-12 months of age
- Junior – 1 to 2 years of age
- Intermediate/Senior – 2 – 3 years of age
- Adult is over 3 years
- Breeder/Handler is any dog over 6 months handled by the breeder or immediate family
Championship points are awarded at various levels of competition:
- Class win is 10 points
- Best Male or Female is 15 points
- Best of Winners is 10 points
The most a dog can get at a show is 35 points.
In order to become a UKC Champion, the dog must get 100 points under three different judges and against competition. In the AKC where we hunt for majors, count class entries and pray everyone shows up if a major is barely made, in the UKC you can be the ONLY dog in your breed and still get a win with competition. If your dog takes a group placement over other dogs, it is considered a competition win. If your dog is the only dog in the group then going Best in Show or Reserve BIS counts as competition. This way if you have a less than common breed, it is possible to complete a UKC Champion title.
A Grand Champion is harder to get. A dog must take the Champions class five times, under three different judges with at least three dogs entered. Alternatively if your dog goes BOB over a Grand Champion and the total number of dogs entered in the Ch and GrCh class totals three, this would also be a win towards a Grand Champion title.
Clubs may offer altered classes at all levels. They are judged separately from regular classes and give a chance for people to show off what was produced. How many have sold a pet pup only to realize the pup turned out really nice? In the AKC you are, well as my husband would say, SOL (and no that does not mean Standards of Learning as the Virginia Dept of Education wants you to think). In the UKC that dog can be shown if the club offers altered classes.
Junior Showmanship in conformation starts a LOT younger in UKC shows. There are three non-regular, non competition classes where every child gets something for participating and parents are able to assist if needed (**). The Pre-Junior class was added after my youngest turned 8.
- Pee-wee is for children 2 years and under four and parents must assist**
- Sub-Juniors is for children 4 and under 6 and parents may assist**
- Pre-Juniors is 6 to under 8**
- Junior (novice and open) is 8 to under 13
- Senior (novice and open) is 13 – 18
The novice class is for juniors who have not gone Best Junior over an Open Junior. However, a junior can opt to compete at the Open level if desired before that but if that is done, cannot return to the Novice level. There are also junior competitions for other sports. Points are awards for various placements that go for total Junior awards at the end of the year. Juniors can also expect to be questioned on their knowledge of anatomy and information on the breed at hand. This is done on an age appropriate level.
Another thing UKC conformation shows often offer that AKC does not is day of show entries. This is what caught my eye with UKC shows when my son was a toddler. My husband’s work schedule was very unpredictable and I did not have help back then with child care for shows. I could decide that morning, based on Doug’s work, if I were going to show or not. Also the UKC allows clubs to do two shows on the same day. It is not uncommon to have clubs do a show Friday evening, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. This means you have a chance to finish a Champion or Grand Champion in a single weekend. This is nice considering the lack of UKC shows in many regions.
I have found UKC events to be friendly, encouraging and a great place to get started in dog shows. I just wish we had more opportunities for UKC events in this region!
If you are interested in learning more about UKC competitions or how to register your dog, please visit http://www.ukcdogs.com.