How to Count Dog Show Championship Points

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How to Count Championship Points

Understanding the Classes

All classes are divided by sex and championship status. The non-champion male dogs compete for Winners Dog. The non-champion female dogs compete for Winners Bitch. Only animals awarded Winners Dog and Winners Bitch are eligible to earn points toward their championship status. After that, the Champion animals and the Winners Dog and the Winners Bitch compete for Best of Breed.

What are the classes?

Class options and order are:

  • 6-9 months puppy
  • 9-12 months puppy
  • 12-18 months
  • Novice class (which is designated for dogs which have not won three blue ribbons in another class. It applies to the dog, not the exhibitor)
  • American Bred Class (dogs bred in the US)
  • Bred By Exhibitor Class (dogs bred by the person showing the dog or an immediate family member)
  • Amateur Owner Handler Class. (defined by the exhibitor not the dog)
  • Open Class (any animal, any age, any handler).

In certain breeds classes might also be divided by coat, color or size.

Very seldom will you see entries in every single one of the available classes. The non champion (or class dogs as we call them) males are all judged in class order. The winner of each class remains at ringside to return and compete for Winners Dog. The second place animal in each class (if there is one) ALSO remains handy.

Winners Dog

This can sometimes be a little confusing. The steward will call the winners of each class back into the ring — in the reverse order they were judged. The judge will select Winners Dog from the class winners. This is the dog who is awarded championship points (more on this later). Once Winners Dog leaves the ring, if there was a dog which placed second in the winner’s class, that dog will be called back in to the ring to be considered for RESERVE Winners Dog. If there was no second place animal, reserve is chosen from the dogs remaining in the ring.

Reserve is literally, the animal who could be awarded championship points if the Winners animal is deemed ineligible for any reason.

Winners Bitch

The female entries go through the same process in order to select Winners Bitch and reserve winners bitch.

Best of Breed Competition

All of the champions are called in to the ring, with Winners Dog and Winners Bitch, at the end of the lineup. Generally the judge will ask for male champions first, female champions next, followed by the winners. This is NOT a given and how the champions are lined up is completely at the judge’s discretion. This is one of the reasons it is smart to watch a ring for a breed or two before yours is judged.

At the end of judging, the judge will line the dogs up in order of their placement… Best of Breed winner is first. Next in line is the Best of Winners. This is the judge’s choice of the best of the class dogs. This award can have bearing when counting points, as we will discuss shortly. Next is the Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed. If the judge selects a male dog for Best of Breed, this award is given to a female and vice versa. Finally male and female Select awards are presented. These awards confer grand champion points and are only available to champion dogs in the ring which did not win Best of Breed or Best of Opposite.

How to Count the Points

Points are awarded based on the number of dogs defeated.

Dogs can earn from zero to five points at a given dog show. For example, if there is only class dog and one class bitch entered, there will be no points available.

Any time a dog defeats enough animals to earn three, four or five points it’s called a Major.

All dogs have to earn two major wins and accumulate 15 total points to be awarded championship status.

How many championship points are awarded is determined based upon three factors: breed, sex and area of the country.


German Wirehaired Pointers in Oregon with an entry of four class dogs and four class bitches — both Winners Dog and Winners Bitch will earn three points for a major. In other areas of the country that might equal only two points. If you’re showing a Golden Retriever, it requires 24 bitches to earn a three point major.

AKC’s Point Schedule covers all 15 divisions of the country. This schedule is adjusted in May every year. So what constitutes a major on May 1 might well not count on May 15.

Now this is where the Best of Winners award might just come into play. The dog awarded Best of Winners earns the highest number of points available. This is not *in addition* to points earned. So, for example, if we have four male and four female class dog wirehair pointers being shown in California, there are three points available in dogs and two points available in bitches. If the female is declared best of winners, she also has earned a major. This is frequently referred to as “sharing” the points or “crossing over”. Keep in mind the judge does NOT automatically to do this and should be deciding whether winners dog or winners bitch is the best representative of the breed.

Let’s talk about championship points awarded in the case a class dog is awarded either Best of Opposite or Best of Breed.

If a class animal defeats champions to earn Best of Opposite, the number of champions of the SAME sex are added to the count of how many dogs in competition to earn points. When a class animal defeats champions to earn Best of Breed, ALL of the champions present are included in the count of dogs defeated.

Let’s assume in our ongoing example that the total entry of German Wirehaired Pointers is four males, four females, one male champion and two female champions. We’ll say that it takes 4 males or 7 females to earn a three-point major. Let’s first say the winner’s bitch also was awarded Best of Opposite sex. She has now defeated two more bitches, so we add those to the four class bitches, making a total of 6 bitches, but it’s still not enough for a major.

Finally, let’s say the winners bitch was awarded best of breed and the class dog was awarded Best of Opposite sex. Did she earn a major NOW? Yes, now she did! On two levels. First because BOB is also automatically BOW if it is a class animal and second because now the winners bitch has 7 animals in competition -- 4 bitches plus three champions, the number needed to earn a three point major in GWP bitches.

How many points did she actually earn?? We know she has a major, but how many actual points? Quick, check the point schedule and…..

The class dog earned Best of Opposite sex! Which means four class dogs and one champion present, five total animals. The point schedule for GWP males shows that four points for five dogs in competition. The class dog just earned four points! Since the class bitch was Best of breed and Best of Winners, she now ALSO earned four points!

The Basics:

Make sure you know the point schedule for your breed in the area in which you show dogs.

Make sure you pay attention to the number of dogs actually IN the ring…. Just because the dogs are entered doesn’t count! If they don’t show up, it can drastically change the points available.

If you got a blue ribbon or a red ribbon in your class, don’t leave until the purple and white ribbon is handed out!

In all cases, if you are the winner, verify with the ring steward or the superintendent that the judge wrote down your dog’s number properly. Verify the number of dogs actually in attendance.

You can do this most easily by asking the superintendent to see the “tear sheets” from the judge’s book. These are always made available to exhibitors, usually within an hour or two of the end of judging of your breed.

So there you go. You are prepared for the dog show with hard facts about the gobbledygook that was stressing you out. This way, you can focus on your dog and making every second in the ring count.

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