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At a dog show, entrants will be divided first by group, then by breed, class and gender. There are ten FCI groups for a variety of different breeds and the class divisions are:
  • Baby Puppy (dogs aged between four and six months) dogs from this class can only be shown at Breed Club shows.
  • Puppy (dogs aged between six and twelve months).
  • Junior (dogs aged between nine and 18 months).
  • Intermediate (dogs aged between 15 and 24 months).
  • Open (dogs over 15 months of age).
  • Champion (dogs who have gained a Champion title under IKC rules or those of another recognised kennel authority).
  • Veteran (dogs over eight years of age).

A veteran dog that is also a champion may enter either the Veteran or Champion class, but not both. Entry into only one breed class is allowed for each dog or bitch.


When grading dogs and bitches in each class, judges will check their movement as they walk around the ring and also examine their teeth, structure and posture. They are then graded by the judge as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Sufficient, Cannot Be Judged or Disqualified. The Excellent grade is awarded to dogs or bitches that show the characteristics of its breed, are very well presented, have a well-balanced temperament, excellent structure and excellent posture and move well around the ring. These dogs or bitches may have minor imperfections but they are overlooked when other features are of superior quality and the dog is considered high class. Very Good is awarded to dogs or bitches that show class, while Good is given to those with the main characteristics and features of its breed but with some faults also. Sufficient dogs or bitches correspond adequately to their breed characteristics but their physical condition may have room for improvement. Dogs or bitches that do not allow themselves to be examined, or who will not walk around the ring will be graded Cannot Be Judged. This grading also applies where a judge suspects a dog has undergone treatment to fix or improve a feature. Dogs or bitches that show aggression, dogs whose testicles have not descended, dogs who do not correspond to their breed standard, or dogs with incorrect coat colour, faulty jaws or teeth or other characteristic that could threaten their future health will be graded Disqualified. Instead of Excellent, Very Good and Good, dogs in the Puppy class are graded either Very Promising or Promising, while the other grades of Sufficient, Cannot Be Judged or Disqualified apply as before. The judge will mark a grade card for each dog and give this to the exhibitor. The four best dogs to receive Excellent or Very Good grades in each class (or Very Promising in Puppy class) are then placed.

Green Stars

The dogs and bitches placing first in each class will then compete for a Green Star, a national certificate for that breed. Dogs competing for this award that have been graded Excellent but lost out on the Green Star may win a Reserve Green Star.

Best of...

Winners of the Green Star Bitch and Green Star Dog awards will then compete for Best of Breed, the winner of which will go on to compete in the main ring for Best in Group. The group winners will then compete for Best in Show. The Best Puppy in Breed award is open to dogs and bitches in the Puppy class who have been awarded the grade of Very Promising and placed first in their class. The winner will then compete for Best Puppy in Group, and these winners will go on to compete for Best Puppy in Show. The Best Veteran in Breed award is confined to dogs and bitches that placed first in the Veteran class and have an Excellent grade. If a veteran wins Best of Breed it will not be eligible for this group but will instead proceed with all Best in Breed winners to challenge for Best in Group. Winners of Best Veteran in Breed will compete for Best Veteran in Group, and winners of this title will compete for Best Veteran in Show.

Junior Diploma

If your dog is aged between six and 18 months, you can apply for a Junior Diploma award and title. To do so, you must first request a Junior Diploma card from the IKC. This card should be brought to each show so that the judge can sign for each place awarded. Championship and Open shows count towards the Junior Diploma. Your dog will have to earn 12 points in total, made up of two class wins at Championship shows (two points each) and eight class wins at Open shows (one point each). Multiple wins at one show do not count, but a bonus of two points will be given on one occasion for a group win. When you have the required number of points, simply sign the card and send it to the IKC and Junior Diploma certificate will be sent to you.

Junior Champion

A dog can earn the title of Junior Champion if it has placed first in five Junior classes in its breed and was graded Excellent by judges at Championship Shows. Owners can apply to the IKC for this certification with details of the shows at which the classes and correct grading were won. Once confirmation is received, the title can be added after the dogs name.

Annual Champion

A dog can also win the title of Annual Champion in its breed. This is awarded to the dog or bitch that achieved the highest number of Green Stars over five in the course of a year. If there is a tie between two dogs, the award falls to the dog with the greater number of Best in Breed wins.

Irish Champion

For your dog to become and Irish Champion, it must have earned seven Green Stars from seven different judges in IKC Championship Shows, and one of these stars must have been awarded after the age of 15 months. Even if your dog already has seven Green Stars before the age of 15 months, it still has to win an additional star after this age in order to be an Irish Champion. Under the old points system, dogs having won 38 points must win one Green Star under the new system to be awarded the title of Champion. There are no additional points toward becoming an Irish Champion for Group Wins.

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