Beginners 

Welcome to the world of competitive dog sports.  When you first got your dog you were probably unaware of the huge choice of dog activities that are out there for you to participate in.

Initially you probably acquired a dog as a companion, and whilst most breeds make wonderful companions, we should not forget that one of the reasons that we have so many breeds is that historically they were breed for a working purpose and can have very specific requirements to keep them happy.

 

Breeds

The Kennel Club is the main regulator of dog activities in the UK.  They maintain the Breed Registers for all the various recognised dogs in the United Kingdom.  There are over 200 different breeds recognized in the UK.  Breeds are divided into two groups Sporting Group (Hounds, Gundogs, and Terrier), Non-Sporting Group (Utility, Working, Pastoral, and Toys).

Sporting Group

  • Hounds were originally bred for hunting and can be sub divided into one of two categories either sight or scent.

  • Gundogs were originally trained to retrieve live game that has been shot. The group divides into four categories: retrievers, spaniels, pointers and setters.

  • Terriers were originally bred to hunt and catch live vermin: otter, fox, badger, rat and badger.

 

Non-Sporting Group

  • The Utility group contains dogs of a non-sporting origin. Like for example the Dalmatian which was bred to accompany carriages.

  • Working dogs have been selectively bred for specific tasks like for example the St Bernard or Siberian Husky.

  • The Pastoral group contains herding breeds for working with cattle, sheep, and other cloven hoof herds. Perhaps the best known are the German Shepherd and the Border Collie.

  • The Toy group mainly contains breeds that were bred for companionship purpose but not all, some are just there because they are small.

 

One of the important things to be aware of is that the amount of exercise your dog needs each day can vary enormously from breed to breed. It can be anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Check out this infographic How often should you walk your dog.

 

Today there are a number of very popular cross breeds like Labradoodles (Labrador / Poodle) or Cockapoos (Cocker Spaniel / Poodle). Despite their popularity these are not considered pure breed so are treated like any other cross breed by the KC.

Activities

Not only do the Kennel Club maintain the breed registers they also regulate the vast majority of dog activities in the UK.

One of the principal activities regulated by the KC is “Showing your Dog” and it is these shows that are the route to Crufts and ultimately “Best in Show”.

If you have a pure-bred dog and the dog is registered with the KC (the breeder would have done that) then you can compete in any of the Open or Championship Competitions around the UK, providing it has the appropriate classes. A very good book on how to compete is “Stand! A Complete Guide to showing Your Dog from Companion to Champion” written by Trish Haill and published by The Crowood Press.

To compete in any of the other KC regulated activities you need to register your dog on the “The Activity Register”. Once registered you can compete in any of the activities listed below.

  • Canicross

  • Obedience

  • Flyball and Agility

  • Working Trials

  • Field Trials

  • Heelwork to Music

  • Rally

 

The KC is not the only register for breeds, there is also the International Sheep Dog Society which is a member organisation and registers over 6,000 Border Collie pups every year on behalf of its members. The ISDS Number and Dog Certificate are a guarantee of pedigree that, for most dogs, can be traced back over 100 years. It is this organisation that regulates the Sheep Dog Trials that you see every year on BBC Television.

Dog Sports UK is primarily interested in the Team Activities where dog and handler “work closely together” and are judged together.

These Activities are:

  • Obedience

  • Heelwork to Music (HTM)

  • Rally

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