What happens in the ring?

Ensure that you check the catalogue to see when your breed is being judged, unless your pup belongs to a breed which is at the beginning of the group, you will have some time to wait. 

Make sure you can hear the steward calling breeds and classes from where you choose to sit, or go over to the ring now and then to check which breed/class the judge is up to. When the class before your pups is being judged, take your pup over to the ringside (but not in the way of dogs and handlers going in to or coming out of the ring) and listen for your class to be announced and your number called. Note that a roll call may be made while the previous class is still being judged. 

While you are waiting at ringside:

  • Watch carefully the procedure in the ring
  • Where the steward is lining up the dogs ready for the judge
  • What the judge does when he examines each dog
  • The pattern he is asking handlers to follow when they are parading their dogs.

When you hear your number called by the steward, answer clearly "Here" and enter the ring, going to where the steward directs if your pup is first into the ring or following the other pups if he is further down the line. 

When the steward assembles your class, the numbers are called in order and a line is formed to enter the ring. Any person who fails to answer the steward's call will be marked as absent after 3 calls, so don't get involved in conversations or other activities which will mean you missing your call. If called absent, an exhibit can not enter that ring. 

Always follow the judge's instructions and be courteous and considerate at all times to the judge, steward and other exhibitors. The judge will probably ask you and the other exhibitors in your class to gait your puppies once around the ring before standing your puppy back in front of them, (allow approximately two metres between dogs when gaiting dogs with other exhibitors).

The judge will then examine your dog from nose to tail, either on the ground or a table for small breeds, to check for correct conformation (the outward appearance and physical formation of a canine. The overall quality of a dog's structure, form and arrangement of parts), coat and condition. You will again be asked to gait your dog individually to assess movement.


If it is the first time that you are showing, it is wise to tell the steward, as he or she will relay this information to the judge who should give you consideration in understanding the ring requirements.

This information was compiled from various works supplied by Pat Davis, Fiona Holtkamp, Bettie Miller and Ms J Rossiter.