Dogs and bitches compete separately within the respective breeds, and seven regular classes. They are as follows:
Puppy – for dogs between six and 12 months of age that are not yet champions.
12 – 18 months – for dogs 12 to 18 months of age that are not yet champions.
Novice – for dogs six months of age and over which is not, prior to the date of closing of entries, won three first prizes in the Novice Class, a first prize in Bred by Exhibitor, American bred, or Open Classes, nor one or more points towards the championship. (This is an optional class)
Amateur-Owner-Handler – for dogs that are at least six months of age that are not champions. Dogs must be handled by the registered owner and is limited to exhibitors who have not been a professional handler, AKC judge, or employed as an assistant to a professional handler.
Bred by Exhibitor – for dogs that are exhibited by their owner and breeder, that are not yet champions.
American Bred – for dogs born in the United States from a mating which took place in the United States, that are not yet champions.
Open – for any dog of the breed, at least the six months of age.
After breed classes are judged, all the dogs that won first place in a class compete again to see who is the best of the winning dogs. Males and females are judged separately. Only the Best Males (Winners Dog) and the best females (Winners Bitch) receive championship points. The Winners Dog and Winners Bitch then compete with the champions for the Best of Breed award. At the end of the Best of Breed Competition, up to five awards are given:
Best of Breed – the dog judged as the best of its breed category.
Best of Winners – the dog judged as the better of the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch.
Best of Opposite Sex – the best dog that is the opposite sex to the Best of Breed winner.
Select Dog – at the discretion of the judge, the best of the remaining champion dogs that were defeated In the Best-of-Breed competition.
Select Bitch – the discretion of the judge, the best of the remaining champion bitches that were defeated In the Best-of-Breed competition.
Only the Best-of-Breed winners advance to compete in the Group competitions. Each breed belongs to a group, and will compete against each other. The winning dog is awarded a Group 1 placement, and advances to the Best in Show competition.
BEST IN SHOW
The seven Group 1 winners compete head-on for the coveted Best in Show title, the highest award at a dog show. The winner is allowed to place the distinguished BIS title in front of its AKC registered name.