Conformation (Dog Showing)

Dog shows have been called "beauty contests," but there is more involved than just whether or not a dog is beautiful. Whippets in conformation dog shows are judged and placed according to how well they conform to the American Kennel Club’s breed standard, which describes a Whippet that is not only pleasing to the eye with the key characteristics that make it instantly identifiable as a member of its breed, but also a capable athlete.

The Whippet has been one of the more popular conformation breeds in the Hound Group for decades. Its ease of grooming makes it particularly well suited to newer exhibitors, as little more than nail trimming, dental cleaning and a bath the day before is required to prepare a Whippet for the show ring. The most important factors in getting your Whippet show puppy ready for the ring are physical conditioning, socialization, and training it to have good ring deportment and demeanor.

Conformation Whippets are expected to stand still during the judge's examination, and gait under control on leash at the trot, so that their movement can be evaluated. With practice, most people can learn the basics of show handling, which involves not only a good rapport with your dog, but also the willingness to wear jacket and tie (men) or dressier sportswear (women) in all kinds of weather! Handicapped or elderly people or those who are not able to travel to shows can still compete, as there are many professional dog handlers who show dogs for a fee. Conformation shows are held both indoors and outside, and are found throughout the USA and the world. More informal "fun matches" are common also, and provide a good place for novice dogs and handlers to gain experience. There are also some conformation fun matches held in association with certain racing and lure coursing competitions, which have greatly relaxed standards for handler and judge attire, but offer a chance for the coursing and racing entrants to strut their show ring stuff.

The medium-sized, short-coated Whippet is also very well suited for Junior Showmanship and 4-H, and many of our best current handlers and breeders started out exhibiting their Whippets in Junior Showmanship. 

The most prestigious show for Whippets in the USA is the American Whippet Club National Specialty, which moves from region to region and regularly draws over 500 entries. In addition, more heavily campaigned champion dogs can vie for the honor of being one of the "Top Twenty" in the US, with a special competition just for them held at each year’s AWC National Specialty show.

The American Kennel Club awards the Championship title (Ch.) to dogs that defeat the required number of their breed, under several different judges. If you are interested in conformation, it is essential to purchase a Whippet from a breeding program where the focus is on breeding for conformation, and to select a dog that is considered by its breeder to be show quality or show potential. Many promising puppies do not develop into competitive adults — choosing and breeding a show prospect is both an art and a science, and there is always an element of guesswork and luck. Thankfully, there are so many other things that Whippets can do that if your showring hopeful fails to turn out, your chances of finding an alternative activity to compete in are excellent!

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