“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make
our lives whole.” ― Roger A. Caras
The two most common types of competitions Dalmatians are participants of is Dog Agility and the Conformation Show. Dog agility is a dog sport where a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler cannot touch neither dog nor obstacles. A conformation show (also referred to as a breed show) is a dog show where a judge familiar with a specific dog breed evaluates individual purebred dogs for how well the dogs conform to the established breed type. Although this is not always the case, such shows are useful to breeders as a means of evaluating dogs for breeding purposes. The conformation show dates back to the late 1800’s whereas agility did not come to be till the late 1970’s.
Agility equipment consists of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, long jumps, and contact equipment. The contact equipment (A-frame, see-saw, dog walk) has contact points at each end. The dog earns faults if it does not touch the contact points with its paws. Agility is great for keeping your dog fit and it’s good for you too. It is an ideal sport for the exuberant and fun
loving Dalmatian, and you can do it together. You need a reasonably obedient dog that listens to you and who loves exercise. Any breed and people of all ages compete with their dogs in agility.
To enter in to an agility competition your Dalmatian needs to be fully grown and no less than 18 month of age and has been training for a while. Agility is very popular now, and there are lots of local agility training clubs, which can be found on the agility website. Classes are graded from 1-7. In order to move up the grades you either need to win an agility class with contact equipment, or win 3 jumping classes. Most importantly your dog will love to take part and it won’t give a moment’s thought to whether it wins or loses. It is a good day out, you are in the fresh air, meet lots of like-minded people, and you always take the best dog home.
The conformation show is much more formal and competitive than agility and is usually hosted by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Dogs that are not registered with the AKC are not eligible to participate. Also since the conformation show is typically held to discover which dogs are the best for reproducing dogs who are mixed, neutered or spayed are not eligible.
To enter in to a conformation show your Dalmatian needs to be six months or older, be registered with the AKC, not spayed/neutered, in good health and up to date on vaccinations. The size of conformation events range from large all-breed shows, with over 3,000 dogs entered, to small local specialty club shows that feature only one breed. Prior to entering into a show it is highly recommended that you visit a few shows to get familiar with what actually happens and them. Conformation classes are offered in order to prepare both you and your Dalmatian for your first experience. To further help you prepare, there is something called a “match show” where you and your dog get to socialize in an informal, educational show environment. While it might seem a like a lot to learn, remember that the ultimate goal is for you and your dog to have fun together!
 For the Love of All Things Dog. http://www.akc.org/
 Brittish Dalmatian Welfare – Agility What is agility? http://www.dalmatianwelfare.co.uk/living-with/agility/
 Conformation show. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conformation_show#In_the_United_Kingdom
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