Basically defined, a dog show is an event where dogs are judged on how closely they conform to their breed standard. Dogs are divided into different classes (puppy 6 to 9 months, puppy 9 to 12 months, 12 to 18 months, novice, American bred, bred-by-exhibitor, and open). Within the classes, the dogs are divided by sex, with males only competing against other males, and females only competing against other females. Ribbons are given to the winners in each class, who then compete against each other to become the Winners Dog, a title that earns the dog points toward a championship.
If you purchased your dog from a breeder, she probably discussed with you whether or not your puppy was potentially show quality. If a dog is show quality, he has no disqualifying faults and otherwise conforms to the breed standard. Show dogs also should have a real personality—dogs that play to the crowd and really seem to “ask for the win” can easily win over a judge. If you think your dog might make a good show dog, ask a breeder or someone else who knows dogs to evaluate him and make sure he has show dog potential. If not, there are certainly other dog activities he can participate in, and dogs that aren’t show quality still make wonderful pets!