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Types Of Dog Competitions And Pageants To Enter

Show off your dog’s obedience skills, athletic abilities or cute smile at your local dog contest or grooming show.

Written by: Stacy Nordstrom

Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

Woman hugging Afghan hound at dog show, female judge holding ribbon

Types Of Dog Competitions And Pageants To Enter

There’s no denying it—your dog is the cutest, smartest, most talented dog around. Ready to show him off? It seems as if there are as many local dog shows as there are breeds of dog!

Here is a list of types of dog shows in which you can enter your dog:

  • Conformation shows. Typically hosted by a dog club associated with the AKC, a conformation show is open to healthy, unneutered or unspayed dogs six months or older who are of a registerable dog breed. “In the conformation ring, your dog is judged based on structure, movement and characteristics that are typical for their breed as outlined in the breed standard,” explains Jennifer McKervey, Australian Shepherds breeder at Full Throttle Aussies
  • Dog agility trials. In this sport, you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. Courses typically have 14 to 20 obstacles such as tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps and seesaws. A dog agility trainer can help get your dog in shape to compete at a local show.
  • Obedience trials. Does your well-behaved dog easily take direction? Obedience trials show off his skills. You and your dog are evaluated as you perform various predefined obedience exercises, such as heeling, sitting, retrieving and jumping.

dogster paw divider

Dog contests for athletic dogs

If your dog loves a particular outdoor activity, such as disc chasing, ball retrieving or diving, look into a sport competition.

  • Flyball is a four-dog relay race where your dog and his teammates jump over hurdles before reaching a raised platform that shoots a ball out when their paws tap it. After catching the ball, each dog runs back through the obstacle course to the team. Find out how to join a team and get started at The North American Fly Ball Association.
  • In disc dog contests, you and your dog compete in the “toss-and-fetch” event, judged on distance, or the freestyle event, where routines and tricks are choreographed to music. UpDogChallenge, an organization that promotes the sport, has a long list of disc games to encourage people and their dogs to play and the accompanying local challenge events. Participants in the UpDog events earn points and are eligible to an AKC Disc Dog title.
  • Water-loving dogs may enjoy dock diving, where dog runs along the dock and jumps into the water to retrieve a toy you have tossed, with the goal of having the longest jump from the dock into the water. Check out for information on how to join a local club.
Contestant Lucy Riles and her black Labrador Retriever Duchess bonded even more strongly through the competition. ©AmazonPrime

Dog grooming shows and beauty pageants

Is your dog more the lounging type? A patient, easy-going couch potato? Well-behaved dogs that enjoy attention make great candidates for local dog beauty pageants and grooming competitions.

  • Grooming shows. While dogs are a critical part of a grooming show, the contest focuses on the human groomer’s skills and techniques. If your well-behaved, patient dog has a healthy coat and at least six weeks of coat growth, he might make a great model. If your groomer participates in local shows, ask if your dog can play a part next time!
  • Beauty pageants. Does your dog have the best smile? The fluffiest tail? The perkiest ears? The best way to enter your cute dog in a beauty pageant is to search the internet for a show near your town. Your local rescue, doggie daycare or dog bar are just a few local places that hold them. Show off your dog’s best features!

Dog photo or video contests

Does your dog do his best work on camera? Every year there are many contests that you can enter with a photo or video of your dog. These contests are held by nonprofit organizations, professional organizations, dog clubs, dog product companies and even dog magazines like Dogster. A quick google search will let you know what contests are currently happening. To win a photo contest, read the rules and follow them carefully, plus make sure you are sending in the best image possible — in focus, well lit, well cropped, no distractions in the background and following the theme of the contest. Some fun recent contests are the Cadbury Bunny Tryouts, Grey Muzzle organization’s Summer Smile Campaign (photo winners go into the calendar) or Orvis’s catalog cover photo contest.

Featured Image Credit: Sean Murphy/ Getty Images

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