Wide Open

by Jessica Freni

Photos Submitted by Kelly Schur

“unethical” “unfair and a waste of money and points “demeaning”

Monday, in a Facebook group (Dog Show Forum), a seemingly innocuous inquiry elicited these strong comments in reply. The question, “Can you enter finished Champions in the regular classes (open) to make points for an unfinished dog?”

From the nearly 150 comments, two things are clear. Firstly, a lot of people are fortunate to show in breeds where possibility of points is assumed and majors while maybe not common are at least frequent enough within reason and secondly, too few people have read the AKC conformation rules and refreshed themselves on each class’s description and eligibility.

The correct answer is “yes”. A Champion, or Grand Champion, is perfectly within the rules of AKC conformation to enter in the Open class. No, it is not “until the AKC confirms champion of record” or “for x amount of days after finishing”. Open is open, always, indefinitely to all dogs. Yes, you can have previously shown the dog as a Champion, or beyond, and still enter it in open and you can move back up too.

This covers the who, so we will address point of confusion, the why.

Why would you enter a finished dog in Open and is it “a waste”? In many rare or low entry breeds it is not an unusual occurrence to be the only entry, for these breeds it was a big deal when AKC enacted the BOW single point. While it is beneficial to get ring experience in a dog or represent a rare breed for visibility- after a while it can get more than a bit frustrating to spend show entries and expenses (and time) for nary a point and no sights of a major on the horizon. Enter the champion! Often a coordinated effort between rare breed exhibitors, a champion can be entered in Open to build points (there’s always the option to scratch the entry if otherwise the need is met with othat entries). Could the class animal not just defeat the special to the same effect? Sure, possibly, but putting them in open put all the dogs on more even footing, reducing the likelihood of judging deferring to a champion in the ring.

This is perfectly acceptable, it is not malicious or against the rules or unethical, this is within the scope, purpose and intent of the open class (“Open Class: a required class that any dog may enter. This is the only regular class that Champions are eligible to complete in.” https://www.akc.org/sports/conformation/resources/select-conformation-dog-show-class/) It is always a good idea to periodically review classes, eligibility and rules for AKC competitions.  It is not however, without a gamble to put a Champion in the open class for two reasons. One reason being, be cooperative and clear for good sportsmanship with fellow exhibitors as to the presence of the champion in open, as there’s always a possibility this animal might go winners. Next consideration, in the event the champion goes winners the points to this dog are in essence null, they’re added extra points into the already fulfilled champion requirements they do not apply towards grand champion points.

Be thankful if you have the benefit of a breed where points/ entries are not an issue and consider exhibiting a rare breed! Hopefully this has clarified some of the misinformation and stigma surrounding the question of champions in open!