Each dog presented to the judge is handled by its owner, breeder or a hired professional.  The role of a handler is similar to that of a jockey who rides a horse around the track and hopefully, into the winner's circle.

The judge views each dog in profile for overall balance and correctness, and then watches each dog gait ("move") to see how all of its features fit together in action.  Judges examine the dogs, then give awards according to how closely each dog compares to the judge's mental image of the "perfect" dog described in that breed's official standard.

The Canadian Kennel Club standard describes the characteristics that allow the breed to perform the function for which it was bred.  These standards include specifications for structure, temperament and movement.

The judges in our rings today are experts on the breeds they are judging.  They examine ("go over") each dog with their hands to see if the teeth, muscles, bones and coat texture conform to the breed's standard.

Most dogs in competition at conformation shows are competing for points toward their CKC championships.  It takes ten points, including one major (a win of two or more points) awarded by at least three different judges, to become a Canadian Kennel Club "Champion of Record."  The number of championship points awarded at a show depends on the number of males ("dogs") and females ("bitches") of the breed actually in competition.  The larger the entry, the greater the number of points a male or a female can win.  The maximum number of points awarded to a dog at any show is 5 points.

Dogs are judged in seven groups:

Sporting- These dogs were bred to hunt game birds both on land and in the water.         The  breeds in this group include Pointers, Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels.

Hounds- These breeds were bred for hunting other game by sight or scent.  These breeds include such dogs as Beagles, Bassetts, Dachshunds and Greyhounds.

Working- These dogs were bred to pull carts, guard property and perform search and rescue services.  Among the breeds in this group are the Akita, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher and St. Bernard.

Terrier- This group includes breeds such as the Airedale, Cairn Terrier and Scottish terrier.  Terriers were bred to rid property of vermin such as rats.

Toy- These dogs were bred to be household companions and to keep elderly lady's laps warm.  This group includes little dogs such as the Chihuahua, Maltese, Pomeranian and Pug.

Non-Sporting- This diverse group includes the Chow Chow, Bulldog, Dalmatian and Poodle.  These dogs vary in size and function, and many are considered companion dogs.

Herding- These dogs were bred to help shepherds and ranchers herd their livestock.  The Briard, Collie, German Shepherd Dog and Old English Sheepdog are some of the breeds in this group.