Types of Shows & Trials

There are many types of Shows and Trials you and your dog can participate in. 

Keep reading below to find an activity that suits you and your dog!

Conformation - Dog Showing

Championship Show

This is an exhibition of registered dogs at which Challenges, Best of Breed, Best In Group and Best in Show certificates are awarded. These certificates evidence the number of points awarded at the fixture towards the title of Australian Champion. This title is retained for life and the initials CH. become part of the dog’s registered name. At these shows, only qualified Judges officiate.

Open Show

This is an exhibition of registered dogs at which no points are awarded, but dogs which have been awarded the title of Australian Champion may compete. At these shows, Trainee Judges officiate and it is considered the training ground for all young dogs and owners. It is particularly good to help socialise your dog as you may show your puppy from the age of three months.


This is defined as the same as an Open Show except Champions cannot compete.  


A dog show is divided into several classes which are based on either age of exhibit or prior qualifications.
The following are the specifications of classes approved for show fixtures.
Please note where separate classes are provided for each sex, the class numbers for bitches are followed by the letter 'a', i.e. Baby Puppy Bitch Class 1a.

  • Class 1  Baby Puppy - for dogs of three and under six months of age
  • Class 2  Minor Puppy  - for dogs of six and under nine months of age
  • Class 3  Puppy - for dogs of six and under 12 months of age
  • Class 4  Junior - for dogs of nine and under 18 months of age
  • Class 5  Intermediate - for dogs of 18 months and under 36 months of age
  • Class 6  Novice - for dogs six months of age or over which have not won a first prize at any Open Show or Championship Show
  • Class 7  Graduate - for dogs six months of age or over which have not won a challenge certificate
  • Class 8  Limit - for dogs over 12 months of age which are not champions or have not gained sufficient points to qualify as a champion
  • Class 9  State Bred - for dogs six months of age or over whelped (born) in the State in which it is exhibited
  • Class 10  Australian Bred - for dogs six months of age or over whelped (born) in Australia
  • Class 14  Bred by Exhibitor - for dogs six months of age and over
  • Class 11  Open - for dogs six months of age and over
  • Class 12  Veteran - for dogs seven years and over
  • Class 13  Veteran - for dogs 10 years and over
  • Class 21  Champion - for all champions entering an Open Show
  • Class 15  Puppy Neuter - for neuter dogs aged six and under 12 months
  • Class 16  Junior Neuter - for neuter dogs aged nine and under 18 months
  • Class 17  Intermediate Neuter - for neuter dogs aged 18 and under 36 months
  • Class 18  Open Neuter - for neuter dogs aged six months or over

Conformation Shows are only open to those dogs who are registered with Dogs Australia on the Main register.

Information on entering your dog in a show for the first time can be found here


These shows are to be conducted using the 10 FCI Groups and the FCI Breed Standards for each of the breeds.

  • A CACIB may be awarded to the best Dog and Bitch of each recognised breed at the discretion of the Judge and provided it was awarded Excellent (1) in its class and is 15 months and over.
  • A CACIB awarded in an Australian State/Territory may go towards an FCI International Champion title earned in Australia or Internationally.
  • To become an International Champion a Dog must earn 4 CACIBs in 2 States, under 3 different Judges and from 3 different FCI Member Countries.

CACIB Shows are only open to those dogs who are registered with Dogs Australia on the Main register.

Classes in a CACIB Show differ from the above. Categories for a CACIB Show can be found here


Agility was originally developed from equestrian show jumping.

The aim of this competition is for a handler to direct their dog around a course of different obstacles to assess and enhance their intelligence and ability. It is an educational and sporting activity intended to improve the dog's integration into society.

Dog Agility is a sport open to all dogs, it is the fastest growing of the dog sports and most breeds, from Toys, such as a Chihuahua, to Giant Breeds, like a Great Dane, could be suitable for Agility, dogs who are on the Associate and Sporting Registers are also eligible to enter these competitions.

Agility is a fun sport for dogs and handlers to get fit together. Dogs are required to learn fun obstacles such as hoops, tunnels, weaving poles, scramble, dog walk, table, see saw and jumps.

Obstacle jump heights are suited to the dogs, based on the height of the dog at the withers to ensure a fair trial.

Competitions for Agility, Jumping and Agility Games include Novice, Excellent and Master classes. In Agility and Jumping there is also an Open Class which all the dogs compete against each other not just their height category. The Agility Games classes test the handler's strategic skills in classes of Snooker, Gamblers and Strategic Pairs.

A ‘clear round' must be obtained to receive a “Qualification” which is no time faults or course faults recorded on the course. As qualifications are gained “Titles” are awarded and the dog will progress to the next higher class, Novice to Excellent and then Master. The highest level of achievement is Agility Champion.

More information on Agility can be found here.

Dances With Dogs

Despite the title of this fast growing sport it has nothing to do with dancing, but plenty to do with music. If you can walk with your dog you can enjoy heelwork to music. If you love music and enjoy time with your dog then this is the sport for you. Handlers have the opportunity to develop and utilise their creative skills, and to train and showcase their dogs in a unique way. Dogs are kept active which improves their fitness as they develop greater flexibility. 

Dances With Dogs encompasses two separate divisions: (a) Freestyle and (b) Heelwork to Music.

To be eligible to enter these competitions, your dog must be registered with DOGS NSW either on the Main or Limited Register, Associate Register or Sporting Register and be at least 12 months of age at the date of the competition.

Workshops are open to anyone who has an interest in dancing with their dog. You may be a beginner, unsure how to start, or participated in previous workshops and would like to polish your dance routine(s). Perhaps you need help with your choreography or some new moves in your routine. 

More information on Dances With Dogs can be found here.

Draft Test

The purpose of a Draft Test is to preserve and develop the inherent skills in appropriate Draft breeds and to demonstrate their ability to perform the function for which they were originally bred. A series of exercises designed to develop and demonstrate the natural abilities of a draft dog in a working capacity. Many breeds have historically functioned as a draft dog in various capacities and performance of these exercises is intended to demonstrate skills resulting from both inherent ability and training which are applicable to realistic work situations. Efficiency in accomplishment of tasks is essential. It is also desirable that the dog works with willingness and enjoyment.

Dogs that pull a cart have to be physically strong and sound, well trained, adaptable and of good disposition. They must work well with their handler in variety of terrains and situations that they might encountered.

Eligible dogs must be registered with DOGS NSW on the Main or Limited Register or Associate Register and be at least 2 years of age at the date of the competition. No Toy Breeds or miniature type breeds are eligible to take part.

More information on Draft Tests can be found here.


Many Terriers and Dachshunds were bred originally to hunt, chase, go to ground and bolt quarry of one kind or another, usually fox, otter and badger. Today, the sport of Earthdog allows these dogs to use their natural instincts in a safe, simulated hunting environment. They can have lots of fun, and earn titles too.

Earthdogs are tested on their ability to enter the den, find their way to the 'quarry' through a series of turns and tunnels, and work the quarry. These challenges become increasingly difficult at each stage.

Dogs six months of age or older and registered with Dogs Australia are eligible to participate in Earthdog tests, as are spayed and neutered dogs with Limited Registration provided they are classified as eligible breeds. Eligible Breeds include: : Australian Terriers, Australian Silky Terriers, Bedlington Terriers, Border Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Chinese Crested Dogs, Dachshunds (all varieties), English Toy Terriers, Fox Terriers (Smooth and Wire), German Hunting Terriers, Glen of Imaal Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, Lakeland Terriers, Manchester Terriers, Miniature Pinscher, Norfolk Terriers 5, Norwich Terriers, Parson Russell Terrier,  Portuguese Podengo (Small), Schipperke, Schnauzer (Miniature), Scottish Terriers, Sealyham Terriers, Skye Terriers, Tenterfield Terriers, Welsh Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Yorkshire Terrier.

More information on Earthdog Tests can be found here.


The object of an Endurance Test is to demonstrate the dog's ability to work after being subject to a certain degree of physical strain without showing signs of undue stress or lack of constitution.

Due to the dog's physical structure, such a test can only consist of a dog travelling at a suitable pace for a performance of some lengthy duration, which, it is known places an increasing load, not only on its internal organs, such as the heart and lungs, but on many other aspects of the dog's physical structure and temperamental characteristics.

The effortless accomplishment of such a test shall be the evidence as to the physical fitness of the dog.

The Endurance Test shall be open to all dogs eligible for inclusion in the Register of the Control in which the event is conducted. The dogs must be aged between two (2) and under eight (8) years but must not have reached the birth date of eight on the day of the test.

More information on Endurance Tests can be found here.


Around the world, herding dogs have proven themselves to be essential in improving man’s ability to control and move stock. Many herding dogs have working styles very different to the modern sheep dogs we see in Australia today. These different herding styles developed in response to local situations and needs.

Herding is fun and a great social activity. It gets you outdoors, keeps you active and is good exercise for all involved. Herding will intensify the relationship between you and your dog. It's a great pleasure to watch dogs perform the basic farm work they once were used for. Ask any handler and they will describe the satisfaction in learning to work your own dog.

Herding is complex and very challenging to learn, but well worth the effort!

Herding is open to all dogs registered with a Dogs Australia Member Body and are over 9 months of age but must be exposed to the herding activity prior to entering any Herding Test.

More information on Herding can be found here.

Lure Coursing

Lure Coursing is a performance sport developed in the early 70s by Sighthound fanciers who hunted jackrabbits in the open field. They invented Lure Coursing as a safer, more controlled sport for Sighthounds that would recreate the physical requirements of open field coursing, allowing them to continue testing the functional abilities of their hounds. Lure Coursing aims to preserve and develop the coursing skills inherent in Sighthounds and to demonstrate that they can perform the functions for which they were originally bred. The hounds chase plastic bags on a course laid out to simulate escaping game. The plastic bags are pulled around on a nylon string course, propelled by a hand controlled motor.

The following Sighthounds registered on the Main or Limited Register with Dogs Australia are eligible to participate in the Sighthound Stream of Lure Coursing Sanctioned Events: Afghan Hound, Azawakh, Borzoi, Deerhound, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Italian Greyhound, Pharaoh Hound, Saluki, Sloughi and Whippet. Although not recognised as Sighthounds in Australia, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Basenjis are considered eligible breeds for the purposes of Lure Coursing Sanctioned Events and shall be eligible for the Sighthound titles. For the purposes of interpretation, a reference to Sighthounds shall be taken as a reference to the eligible breeds noted above. As other Sighthound breeds become recognised by Dogs Australia, these may be added to the list of eligible breeds.

All other dogs registered with the Member Body are eligible to participate in Coursing Ability Tests (CAT) and earn the titles of CA (Coursing Ability), CAA (Coursing Ability Advanced), CAX (Coursing Ability Excellent) and CAM (Coursing Ability Master). 6 5.6 Any dog with a Dogs Australia registration shall be eligible to compete in Lure Coursing Sanctioned Events.

More information on Lure Coursing can be found here

Obedience & Rally


There is nothing more satisfying than sharing your life with a well-trained canine companion. Reaching that goal is attainable and takes time, commitment and consistency and whether your dog is a puppy or a mature dog, training will assist you in sharing a special relationship where your dog is a pleasure to have by your side, whether at home or in a social situation.

The day your puppy or more mature dog comes into your home is the day the dog starts to learn the rules by which you expect him to live. He will need to get out and meet the world with all its noises and movements and this can start at 8-12 weeks attending Puppy Pre School which is usually run by a Vet Clinic. The next step is to register at your local dog training club in NSW. Puppies can be registered at training clubs when they have received their final vaccinations usually at approximately 12 – 16 weeks.

There are five levels of obedience in Australia, CCD, CD, CDX, UD and UDX which become progressively more challenging. A title is achieved when the dog has three passes at that level. Most levels require a pass of 170 points or more out of 200, and the dog must pass every exercise within the level. The exception is the entry class of Community Companion Dog which requires 85 points out of 100 . All the exercises are based on useful things dogs can do for us and which make for a better companion.


Rally  promotes a positive relationship between the dog and its owner, and it is a great way for the beginner to start trialling with their dog. Rally was designed as a way to introduce people who are working through their obedience levels into the world of dog sports and for everyone, whether they are seasoned triallers or not, to simply just have fun with their dog. Rally provides an environment where the handler can encourage their dog by talking and rewarding by voice, but not handling the dog in any way.

Rally is often described as a combination of Agility and Obedience. A Rally course is set out with numbered stations including a start and finish. Handlers have the opportunity to walk the course to become familiar with it before competing. Dog and handler then navigate the course by following the numbers and carrying out the exercise shown on the sign positioned at each of the numbered stations. Dogs work in the “Heel” position between exercises.

Dogs registered with a Dogs Australia Member Body can be entered in an Obedience and/or Rally Trial.

More information on Obedience & Rally can be found here.

Retrieving & Field Trials

Retrieving Ability Test for Gundogs

Retrieving Ability Tests for Gundogs are a great way to get dogs working on what they were bred for. Your dog will love the activities, and you’ll have fun training and competing as well.

The Retrieving Ability Tests for Gundogs is open to both Registered and Associate Gundogs. It is a test of basic retrieving ability. Retrieving Ability Tests for Gundogs are normally held by Obedience Clubs, or at Gundog Group Shows and Obedience Trials. They tend to be held at ovals or dog club grounds, so have limited area and terrain.

Titles are awarded at two levels; Novice Retrieving Ability (NRA) and Open Retriever Ability (ORA). Novice level consists of four exercises; walking to heel, a recall, and two single mark retrieves. Open level also consists of four exercises; walking to heel, one minute stay with recall (incorporating a stop on command), walk-up retrieve, and either a double mark retrieve or a double rise retrieve. The handler may use whistles, voice and hand signals to control the dog, which must complete all exercises without lead or collar.


Retrieving Trials are a great way to see our Gundogs exhibiting their natural ability in the field. All types of Gundogs compete and at any trial you can see breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Brittany, Flat Coated, Retriever, Weimaraner and various other breeds of Gundogs.

The purpose of a Retrieving Trial is to test and determine the dogs’ natural hunting ability in the field, under natural conditions. Retrieving Trials allows the owner/breeder the opportunity to test the natural working instincts of their dogs, and a chance to select breeding stock based on preserving natural working instincts which have been developed over centuries. Retrieving Trials are held on country properties, where the terrain can be quite challenging; it may be up hills, through gullies, and with thick cover. The cover may include tussocks or long grass, which conceal the retrieve and force the dog to use its nose to scent it out.

Usually, Retrieving Trials test dogs over three ‘runs’, sometimes more. Each run includes heeling and general obedience in the control area, plus the retrieves. In the control area, the handler removes the lead and collar, takes the gun, and heels to the ‘firing’ point. The handler sends the dog for the retrieve and may use voice, whistle, and hand signals to control the dog if necessary.

Retrieving Trials are conducted at five different levels, Beginners, Novice, Restricted, All Age and Championship. Novice, Restricted and All Age Stakes form the basis of most trials in NSW.

Field Trials

Field Trials are tests based on real hunting situations and are, therefore, held in rural and regional areas. Field Trials are based on the idea of companions going out for a day's shooting. Dogs work in braces 'Pairs' and must 'point' the game (excluding Spaniels & Retrievers FT), with the second dog backing up the first dog ('honouring'), flush the game, and then retrieving the shot game. There are several Field Trial categories, including trials for Spaniels and Retrievers; Pointers and Setters; and Utility Dogs.

There are three types of Field Trials in which a registered Gundog may compete according to breed. Pointer & Setter Field Trials, Spaniel & Retriever Field Trials and Utility Gundog Field Trials. A Field Trial is a competition where the working ability of dogs is assessed under actual hunting and shooting conditions in the field. Trials are mostly run on rabbits, but dogs finding and flushing other legal game will be scored with a 'find' by the Judge. If the game is out of season it cannot be shot but the dog will still be given a score for the find. Field Trials are judged on a point scoring system and dogs run in two heats (provided they are not eliminated in their first heat). Shooting accuracy is not the main criteria in scoring, the Trials are to test the dogs and not the aim of the handler.

More information on Retrieving Ability Tests for Gundogs, Retrieving Trials & Field Trials can be found here.



All breeds of dog can learn to track – it uses their natural scenting instincts which is enjoyable and rewarding. Tracking involves training a dog to follow a ground scent trail and find any discarded articles of clothing along the track.

Tracking in NSW is done mostly in winter, due to the risk of snakes and heat of summer. A number of obedience and tracking clubs teach tracking, in which a dog and handler may learn how to track. Some of these clubs also run tracking trials, where dogs and handlers can enter to gain their tracking titles.

A track is a scent trail or scent path left behind as a person or animal walks or moves, along the ground. There are a lot of varying views and theories on what forms the scent track and without becoming too complicated, it is generally accepted that the track is formed in two ways: Ground Scent and Body Search.

Track & Search

Track and Search is a newer component introduced to tracking to enable those people whose dog has gained its Tracking Championship to continue to develop their skills. The tests are designed to mimic real life situations where a person has wandered off and become lost. The tracks are different in that they will cover many different surfaces and are designed to replicate the erratic behaviour of people when lost or confused. Some of the advanced tracks need to be worked out of daylight hours.

The time limit for these types of tracks varies from one hour to four hours.

Dogs registered with a Dogs Australia Member Body and are over 6 months of age can enter a Tracking Trial.

More information on Tracking can be found here.

Scent Work

Scent Work is a sport that is based on the task of working detection dogs to locate an odour and communicate to the handler that the odour has been found. Detection is done in a variety of environments and often during changing weather or environmental conditions. Scent Work is a positive, challenging activity that allows dogs the opportunity to use their strongest natural sense in a way that is fun, engaging, and builds and strengthens a foundation of trust between the handler and dog.

Dogs are trained to recognise specific odours, and to alert their handlers when the odours are detected. Dogs may paw, bark, point with their nose or body, sit, lie down, or use any other non-destructive behaviour to communicate the location of the odour. Handlers take their dogs through a search area which may be set up in a variety of environments.

Dogs registered with a Dogs Australia Member Body and are over 6 months of age can enter a Scent Work Trial.

More information on Scent Work can be found here.

Trick Dog

Trick Dog Competition is a new Dogs Australia discipline which became an official event in January 2020. Developed by members of the Dances With Dogs discipline, the intention of Trick Dogs is to encourage handlers to teach their dogs skills and to display behaviours in a positive environment. As many of the tricks are simply an extension of basic obedience training, teaching your dog foundation Tricks can parallel your dog's training.  Teaching your dog tricks must be fun. You can teach your dog many tricks, but your dog must truly be enjoying itself.  Sessions should be short and fun for both dog and handler.

Trick Dog Competition commences at the Starter Class, Novice Class is the next stage with Intermediate Class following. Advanced Class is the current most difficult level.

Dogs registered with a Dogs Australia Member Body can be entered in Trick Dog Tests.

More information on Trick Dog can be found here.