Conformation Dog Shows

How does a dog accumulate points for an AKC championship and become a champion?

The regular "classes" in which Shih Tzu  may be entered. The following classes are offered for male and female dogs.

9 to 12 MONTH PUPPY 

12 TO 18 MONTHS 

NOVICE - Never won a blue ribbon in any of the classes or has won less than three 
ribbons in the novice class.

BRED-BY-EXHIBITOR (for dogs shown in the ring by their breeders)

AMERICAN-BRED (born in the United States)

OPEN (open to all, including puppies and foreign-born dogs, but generally entered by 
the most mature and well-trained dogs).

The first place winners of these classes compete for Winners Dog and Winners Bitch-the only two dogs of their breed that receive championship points at this particular show. The number of points awarded (anywhere from one to five of the fifteen needed) is based on 
the number of dogs entered in each sex that actually compete). A dog must earn at least two majors (three to five point wins) under two different judges, and earn at least one 
point under a third judge, to be awarded its championship. A dog must thus defeat significant competition in the opinion of several judges to be deemed worthy of the title champion (CH). After awarding Winners Dog and Winners Bitch, the judge then selects 
the second-best in each sex, designated Reserve Winners Dog and Reserve Winners Bitch. These "runners-up" would be awarded the championship points if the Winners Dog or Winners Bitch should later be disqualified for some reason.

The Winners Dog and the Winners Bitch then compete with the dogs of their breed that 
have already earned AKC championships for Best of Breed. The Best of Breed winner advances to compete in one of seven groups, with the Shih Tzu being in the Toy Group. 
Two other awards are given in the breed ring following Best of Breed judging. The first, 
Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed, honors the best bitch if a dog goes Best of Breed, 
or vice versa. The better of Winners Dog and Winners Bitch is awarded Best of Winners.

If more points were awarded in Winners Dog and a bitch goes Best of Winners, she 
receives the same number of points as the dog instead of those she earlier earned, and 
vice versa. If the Best of Winners also goes Best of Breed, the number of champions competing is added to the number of dogs already defeated to determine the number of championship points awarded that day.

Most dogs in competition at conformation shows are competing for points toward their championship. It takes 15 points, including  two majors (a win of three, four, or five 
points) under at least three different judges to become an AKC "Champion of Record." 
This is indicated by "Ch." before the dog's name.

At an AKC sanctioned dog show, a dog can earn from one to five points toward a champion title, depending on the number of males or females actually in competition for the breed. 

For example, in the 2015 AKC schedule of points for division 9 the Shih Tzu are: 
    1 point   - 2 dogs/ 2 bitches
    2 points - 3 dogs/ 4 bitches
    3 points - 4 dogs/ 5 bitches
    4 points - 6 dogs/6 bitches
    5 points - 7 dogs/8 bitches

Note: Male dogs are often referred to as dogs, while female dogs are referred to as bitches

For Shih Tzu and other breeds in California or other States, go to the AKC's Point Schedule web page at:

In the group ring, as in the breed ring, the dogs are not judged against one another, but 
in terms of how close they come to a written description of the perfect dog of their breed. The ideal Shih Tzu is described in the Shih Tzu Breed Standard.

Any dog placing first through fourth in its group, if not yet a champion, is awarded the largest number of points given that day in any of the breeds it defeated. The first place winners of each of the seven groups then advance to Best in Show, where just one dog is declared the best of all the dogs competing on that day.

For more information on how a dog show works, go to ww The events section 
of the AKC website also has information on the regulations for competing in performance events such as obedience, agility, and rally, where dogs are judged on how well and how fast they perform specified tasks rather than on how they look. Elsewhere on this web site, there is an article about specialty shows, in which only a single breed competes. The AKC web site lists upcoming shows of all kinds, and gives the winners of shows that have already taken place. The dog show superintendents who take care of the nuts and bolts of running the dog shows-from fencing and matting and tents to entries and record-keeping and ribbons-have their own web sites. One of the most interesting is 
On this site, you can go to show information, then locate shows by date or state. You can even make show entries online.


Any Shih Tzu registered with the AKC, 6 months or older on the day of the show may compete. Spayed or neutered dogs are not eligible to compete in conformation classes at 
a dog show, nor are dogs with disqualifying faults or certain surgical procedures, as noted in the AKC Shih Tzu standard and surgical eligibility.


If you have attended a dog show, you have taken an important first step in getting 
involved in the sport of showing your dog. If you haven't attended a show, make an effort to do so, before you consider entering your dog. Dog shows are advertised in local newspapers, on posters in local shops, on the radio, TV and the Internet. Most of the time, a phone number is given, so that you can call to get more information on the time Shih Tzu will be judged.


While visiting a show, inquire at the Shih Tzu Fanciers table about breed handling or showing a dog in the show ring. Often clubs have classes on weekends or evenings to 
teach you the basics. If the club doesn't offer classes, they will know where classes are held. The club may have information about match shows in your area. Matches  are fun shows, used for practice and training of dogs and their novice exhibitors. Although these "shows" award no points toward an AKC title, they are a great place to "get your feet wet" before entering a real show. 

It would be to your benefit to ask how you may go about joining the club. Shih Tzu clubs 
are involved in many activities besides putting on a dog show, and they welcome new 
members who want to lend a hand. You will get the chance to meet new people and share their knowledge and experiences. If you wish to join Shih Tzu Fanciers of Southern CA, go to our membership application, fill out the application and mail it with a check. STFSC puts 
on shows for  conformation and agility. We have included a list of all the AKC affiliated clubs across the U.S. for your convenience.


If you don't wish to handle your dog yourself, you can hire a professional handler. Professional handlers charge a fee for showing dogs, so before hiring one, make sure you obtain a fee schedule. Talk to several handlers, get copies of their rate schedules and visit their facilities, if possible. Observe them in and out of the ring before you make up your mind. 
You will be entrusting a handler with your dog's care, so make sure you are comfortable with that person. If there is something you don't understand, make sure the prospective handler answers all of your questions before entering into any agreement.