The official term for dog shows is conformation — as in, the act of conforming or producing conformity. While a dog show may look like a beauty pageant, it’s not. Dogs are not being compared to each other; they’re being measured by how closely they conform to the standard of their particular breed. Why? Because the closer a dog’s appearance is to the breed’s standard, the better that dog’s ability will be to produce puppies that meet the standard. It’s also the reason why mixed breeds and spayed or neutered purebreds are ineligible to compete in conformation.

As one of the most popular AKC events, conformation events range from large all-breed shows, with over 3,000 dogs, to small local specialty club shows that feature only one breed.


To compete in an AKC Conformation show, your dog must be:

  • Six months or older on the day of the show
  • Recognized breed by the AKC
  • Registered with the AKC
  • NOT spayed or neutered
  • No disqualifying faults, as stated by their breed’s parent organization
  • In sound health and up-to-date on vaccinations

Get Started

If you haven’t seen a dog show in person yet, we highly recommend attending one in person to experience it first-hand. After that, you’ll want to find a class at an AKC Club to prepare you and your dog for your first experience – and for your best chances at winning. Classes are often conveniently held on weeknights and focus on how to handle your dog in the show ring.


  • Conformation Rules & Regulations
  • AKC Gazette
  • Participants with Disabilities
  • Downloadable Forms
  • Find a Club/Trainer
  • Find an Event
  • Points and Awards
  • Titles and Abbreviations
  • Judges’ Directory
  • Judges’ Resources
  • Seminars
  • Event Responsibilities a Club Cannot Transfer
  • Cluster Coordination Tool