Companion dog shows

Nova Scotia at a dog show
Yulia Titovets © / The Kennel Club

Charity dog shows licensed by The Kennel Club are often referred to as companion dog shows.

They are fun, informal events that all dogs can take part in and are usually held as part of a village fete, charity open day or as a fundraising event in their own right. Quite simply, they are great days out for the whole family - including your dog! 

The shows are very relaxed, which makes them ideal for all dog owners at all levels who are looking to enjoy a fun day out with their companion.

Find a companion dog show near you by visiting Find a Show.

Frequently asked questions

What should I keep in mind when attending my first companion dog show?
  • Due to the growing popularity of companion dog shows, it is important that you get to events in plenty of time to register your dog for the classes you wish to compete in
  • Take supplies, such as a brush or other relevant grooming equipment, as well as some of your dog's favourite treats
  • Please also remember to bring plenty of poo bags and clean up after your dog at the show
  • Take a bowl and some water for your dog. If it looks as if it is going to be a very hot day then you might also want to take a towel soaked in cold water for your dog to lie on, which will help keep him cool while you are waiting to go into the ring
  • Train together and play together, so that you build up a real partnership with your dog
  • Find out from The Kennel Club about ringcraft classes in your area, where you can learn how to present and train your dog for the ring
  • Talk to the experienced people at the ringcraft classes - they will be more than happy to help a newcomer. Watch how they present their dog to show off its finer points
  • Make sure that your dog has a chance to stretch his legs before you go into the ring
  • Always be polite and considerate to your fellow competitors
  • Win or lose, remember to praise your dog - no doubt they will have given their best for you. Owners like to win rosettes but praise and a cuddle from you will mean far more to your dog than a rosette does!
What is the difference between a companion dog show and a fun show?

Generally fun shows will not schedule classes specifically for pedigree dogs. Companion dog shows will schedule classes for pedigree dogs where the dogs will be judged against The Kennel Club's breed standards. It will also schedule fun classes such as ‘dog with the waggiest tail’ and ‘dog the judge would like to take home’.

The benefits of holding a companion dog show licence is that exhibitors know that the show will be held in accordance with The Kennel Club regulations and standards of competition, which includes the requirement that the show carries public liability insurance. The Kennel Club will also assist in resolving any incidents at the show.

Does my dog need to be a pedigree?

No, generally most of the classes will be fun classes, like 'dog with the waggiest tail'.

How old does my dog need to be to take part?

To be eligible for entry, dogs must be at least 6 calendar months of age on the day of the show.

Do I need to pre-register?

This is entirely up to the show organisers. Usually, registration will be on the day. However, anyone who is wishing to take part should check with the organisers.

Organising a companion dog show

Dogs have a special place in our hearts and are a vital part of any community. Organising a dog show is a great way to raise funds for a charity or a cause, where the dogs and owners in your neighbourhood can join you in raising money while also enjoying a great day out. Companion dog shows are always popular events, attracting hundreds of hounds and generating millions of pounds every year for many important, worthy causes.

What are companion dog shows like?

Sometimes forming part of a village fete, or as events in their own right, companion dog shows are fun events at which all dogs, great and small, pedigree and non-pedigree, can take part.

The mainstay of many companion dog shows are the fun or 'novelty' classes like 'dog most like its owner' and 'dog with the waggiest tail'. Use your imagination and schedule some classes that all attendees can have some real fun with. As there is nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get people coming along to a show, companion dog shows can also schedule classes which allow pedigree dogs to compete head to head in classes such as 'any variety Terrier' or 'any variety puppy'. Many people like to bring their new puppies along to companion dog shows to get them used to other people and dogs, and also to see if they have what it takes to be the next Crufts winner.

Please note that puppies under 6 months old are not permitted to take part in companion dog shows.

What do I need to do?

You will need to fill in a licence application form. Once approved, an invoice for £10 will be sent to you for payment.

Before submitting your licence application form, you must inform your charity or cause in writing, stating that you are intending to hold a companion dog show on their behalf. The charity's acknowledgment and agreement to your letter (this must be the original letter and not a copy) should be sent to The Kennel Club, along with your completed application form. It is not possible for us to issue the licence without this information.

Regulations for holding a companion dog show.

Why do I need a licence?

Holding a licensed show means that all dogs, including pedigree dogs, can compete and join in the fun. Licences are granted only to properly organised events, so that all those attending the show know that the money is going to charity and that the show is being run according to the high standards set by The Kennel Club.

The Kennel Club ensures that licensed shows are held in accordance with The Kennel Club's regulations and have a published schedule. Download The Kennel Club's Show (F) Regulations.

How long does it take to receive the licence?

You should not have to wait longer than two weeks to receive your licence - although in the very busy show season between April and August it might take slightly longer. We state 42 days prior to the show date in our regulations, but endeavour to process sooner than that. The earlier in the year you apply for a licence, the earlier you will receive it.

Are there any other safety tips I should bear in mind?

Typically companion dog shows are held over the summer and dogs suffer terribly if they are left in hot cars, even for short periods of time. Please refer to the information on page two of the specimen schedule. This notice must be included on your schedule and entry form, to make all competitors aware of this.

What sort of classes can I hold at my show?

It is possible to hold both pedigree and novelty classes at your show. Download the F Regulations for detailed information of the rules for a companion dog show. This information forms the basis for your schedule, as shown in the specimen schedule.

For a successful show which includes all the dogs in the community, you must schedule some pedigree classes. We can only license shows that include these classes.

How do I find a suitable judge for my show?

Why not get in touch with your local dog club and see if they can recommend a good local judge? Making contact with your local clubs may mean that you can get the support of their members for your event.

Can I hold a companion dog show as part of another dog show?

Yes, companion dog shows are often held as part of other events licensed by The Kennel Club, but a separate licence must still be applied for.

The Kennel Club has no jurisdiction over hunt Terrier and lurcher shows. However, if these shows are scheduled, they must be held as a separate event and not as part of the companion dog show.

Insurance for trainers
We have partnered with Pet Business Insurance (PBI) to provide specifically designed insurance cover for canine clubs or societies, including public and products liability insurance at a competitive price.

You can contact them on 01284 736874 or visit their website.
Contact details if you need help

For shows held at venues in England and Northern Ireland, email the society and show services team on 01296 318540.

For shows held at venues in Wales, please contact the Welsh Kennel Club:

10 Gosmore Road
New Brighton
Flints CH7 6QN

For shows held at venues in Scotland, please contact the Scottish Kennel Club:

Paterson House
Eskmills Park,
Station Road
Musselburgh EH21 7PQ