Since humans first started noticing the high trainability and utility of dogs, dogs have started to be bred for special purposes. These include hunting and retrieval of game, military and police service, guides for the blind, and erstwhile companions. (“Dog”) Dog breeding also finds its roots in the 19th century. Dog breeders believed that the public placed a premium on dogs of a specific size, color, physical, and temperamental qualities. This was proven true when the demand for “quality” puppies from dog breeders rose from purchases made by people seeking canine companionship or those who needed dogs for herding and hunting.
Today the “elite” and prime examples of different dog breeds can often be seen show cased and recognized in Kennel clubs and dog shows held both nationally and internationally. The year 1859 saw the first dog show in Newcastle, England where judges focused mainly on working dogs and their skills rather than appearance. Dogs of different breeds paraded on floors sprinkled with sawdust and the judging was done only by three men. Today, the American Kennel Club (AKC) is one of the largest of such organizations concerned with recognizing exemplary specimens and abilities of registered dog breeds.
Various competitions for dogs measuring their performance level at different skills are done on mostly weekend events. The competitions range from criteria based on different types of dogs or skills such as tracking and following commands. (Baldwin, and Norris 1) “There are three types of competition–conformation, obedience, and agility. The agility ring is the one many people are familiar with, where dogs go through various exercises and around obstacles,” says Adrian Woodfork, a licensed AKC judge”(Stokely 175)
The conformation competition is said to be targeted at challenging breeders to improve the quality of purebred dogs through extra careful selection of breeding specimens as well as faithful recording of bloodlines, temperament and hereditary traits. (Stokely 175) Every year the AKC publishes a “point scale” that lists the number of awards available at each show based on the number of specific breeds involved in the show. Some actually view these competitions as perfect opportunities to learn more about different breeds particularly if there are contemplating buying a dog.