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What Class to Enter Your Dog in?

By: Elaine Everest - Updated: 23 Jan 2020 | comments*Discuss
Exhibit Open Show Championship Show

You’ve received a schedule for the dog show, where you wish to exhibit your puppy but what class do you enter? There could be hundreds of classes at an Open Show, even more at a Championship Show and you cannot enter them all!


First look to see if your breed has a listing, if it has, this is where you must make your first entries. If there are classes for dogs and bitches you obviously only enter in the classes for the sex of your dog.

Next look at the classes available for the age of a dog.

There could be:

  • Minor puppy 6 – 9 months
  • Puppy 6 – 12 months
  • Junior 6 – 18 months
  • Yearling 6 – 24 months
  • Veteran over 7 years
If your dog fits into any of these classes you are entitled to enter them. However don’t get too adventurous and put a puppy of 6 months into a class where he could be up against an older dog of (say) 23 months. He will be giving a lot away and you will be competing against someone who has had a lot more experience in the show ring.

However keen you are there is nothing worse than going into the ring five times in a row and being unplaced. You may be lucky, the judge may like your dog, but it is unlikely to happen. So to begin with just enter one or two classes.

Other Classes

After the age classes within your breed you will find there are classes such as Novice, Graduate, Post-Graduate, Limit and Open. There will be a classification list within the schedule explaining these classes. Basically they depend upon how many classes your dog has won at different levels. You can enter higher classes but not classes you have won your way out of.Beware, other exhibitors will be watching and if they see anyone entering classes they are not allowed to they will make a complaint to the Kennel Club – it happens!

The Open class is open to any dog to enter, however you will find that this class is usually entered by the older dogs that have won there way through the lower classes. Quite often this is where the Best of Breed Winner will come from – but you never know, if the judge likes a dog it can win through at any age.


Remember that you must go into the ring for every class you have entered it is bad manners not to. You can catch the ring stewards eye and tell him you are withdrawing from further classes but it is bad manners to withdraw from a class unless there is a problem with the dog. Also, if you have won the classes you have entered you must go back into the ring at the end of judging to be judged for Best of Breed. If you have withdrawn from other classes you cannot compete for Best of Breed and therefore lost the chance to compete for higher honours.

Any Variety Not Separately Classified

If there are no classes for your breed you will be able to compete in the Any Variety Not Separately Classified classes. These may be for all dogs without classes or they may be separated into one of the seven groups. Again there will be classes for puppies upwards – stick to your age or qualification level, don’t be too adventurous, it will show you are a novice –the last thing you want to do, you must be professional at all times.

Variety Classes

There will be variety classes for any breed of dog to enter regardless of age or qualification. They are excellent practise for novice owners and dogs new to showing so enter and enjoy!

Above all enjoy your day and remember you always take the best dog home!

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