All About Showing
Purpose of Conformation ShowingTo test musculoskeletal soundness
Physical soundness, strength, and balance are all mainstays of this athletic breed. When a dog has the appropriate lengths of bones and angles of joints, combined with healthy musculature and fitness, he represents the breed accurately, and then other aspects of the dog can be evaluated, for breed type quality and prospective breeding.
Conformation to the breed standard
No dog is perfect, but the goal of a reputable breeder should be to get as close to perfection as possible in every way: health, temperament, physical and mental soundness, and breed type. The breed standard is the reason why breeds we know are so recognizable. The breed standard is the "standard of perfection." How the dog is described in its breed standard is how it should appear to the one looking. Those familiar with the standard should be able to look at an Amstaff from afar and know it's an Amstaff, not a bulldog or APBT.
If a purebred dog does not conform to the breed standard, that means it has traits that are not preferred by the standard. Those unpreferred traits may be physical (e.g. coat length, coat color, tail straight or feet flat, dog is too short or too tall) or mental (shy, easily frightened, easily provoked to anger, for example).
The breed standard describes what the preferred traits are (correct traits) and what the unpreferred traits are (incorrect traits). Breeders must strive to adhere to the breed standard in order to continue to better the generations of Amstaffs ahead in every way (health, temperament, physical traits).
A dog that excels in shows should have all or almost all of the breed-specific traits, move effortlessly (indicating correct physical structure and fitness), allow a stranger (the judge) to approach and pat it down, and have no deviations from the breed standard.
Showing is also open to anyone who wants to do it for fun and competition. Most of the time, show dogs are kept unneutered or unspayed (intact), but the CKC offers an "altered" class for spayed/neutered registered purebred dogs as well.
A dog's temperament must make room for hands-on evaluation of the whole body and sometimes the mouth by a stranger (the judge), though many judges get the handler to hold the mouth open so that the dog is more comfortable and to limit cross-contamination by touching so many dogs' mouths.
Also, dog shows are often crowded with people the dog doesn't know as well as hundreds of other dogs in a place the dog has never been. If a dog excels at dog showing, it is very likely that he has a stable mind, as he is able to be in unfamiliar territory easily, which is reflective of good nerves (which is hereditary) and good training. Many dogs (in all breeds) cannot be shown because they cannot comfortably or safely be out in surroundings such as that of a dog show, which would not be reflective of the friendly, stable, and courageous nature of the Amstaff.
One way to decipher a family of quality Amstaffs is by seeing how many dogs in the pedigree have excelled in conformation or sporting/working disciplines.
American Staffordshire Terriers Conformation Showing (Pictures by Gray Hound Photography)
2023 ASTCC Regionals
Written by R.Wishart