Dog Conformation: The Sporting Dog Group

Learn more about the Sporting Group’s history, its top dogs, how the breeds are handled in the ring and much more.

Sporting Dogs were developed to assist hunters in locating and retrieving game. These dogs are friendly, energetic, intelligent and easily trained, doing very well in field trials. There are four types of Sporting Dogs, which include Spaniels, Setters and Pointers, Retrievers and Water Retrievers. Spaniels flush birds and other game into the open so hunters can more easily shoot the game; setters and pointers locate game; retrievers fetch game; and water retrievers retrieve dead game from water.


Top Sporting Dogs

Top Dogs of the Herding Group from the present back to the year 2000. For more information about a specific dog (if it is available), click on its name.

2013: Clumber Spaniel GCh. Clussexx Collaboration With Traddles
2012: German Wirehaired Pointer GCh. Mt. View’s Ripsnortersilvercharm
2011: Cocker Spaniel GCh. Casablanca’s Thrilling Seduction (Top Dog of All Breeds in 2011)
2010: Irish Setter Ch. Shadagee Caught Red Handed
2009: Golden Retriever Ch. Toasty’s Treasure Island
2008: Pointer Ch. Cookieland’s Seasyde Hollyberry (Top Dog of All Breeds in 2008)
2007: English Springer Spaniel Ch. Karmadi’s Madam President
2006: English Springer Spaniel Ch. Felicity’s Diamond Jim
2005: English Springer Spaniel Ch. Telltale Salute
2004: Sussex Spaniel Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee
2003: German Wirehaired Pointer Ch. Drakkar’s She’s All That
2002: English Setter Ch. Set’r Ridge Wyndswept In Gold
2001: Brittany Ch. Magic Sir-ly You Jest
2000: German Shorthaired Pointer Ch. Khrispat’s Megan A Point

See a breed list with the National Breed Clubs for the Sporting Group. Click to continue>> 

See the Sporting Group Top Sires and Dams of 2011. Click to continue>>

See upcoming All-Breed and Group Shows so you can see the Sporting Group breeds in action. Click to continue>>



Westminster Best in Show Winners

2009 Westminster Winner. Sussex Spaniel Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee ‘Stump’ was top Sporting dog in 2004 and won Best in Show at the 133rd annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 2009. Best in Show judge Sari Brewster Tietjen had this to say about Stump: “The Sussex filled my eye and won my heart. He walked around that big ring as if he was going for a stroll in the park. Nothing seemed to faze him. His beautiful head, keen expression, solid build, good bone, correct topline and superlative condition meant that he could not be denied. I had no idea he was 10 years old as he was as spry as a youngster. We should all age as well as he has!”

Stump beat more than 2,500 other dogs for Best in Show. Group 1 winners in 2009 included Scottish Deerhound Ch. Gayleward’s Tiger Woods in the Hound Group; Giant Schnauzer Ch. Galilee’s Pure Of Spirit in the Working Group; Scottish Terrier Ch. Roundtown Mercedes Of Maryscot in the Terrier Group; Brussels Griffon Ch. Cilleine Masquerade in the Toy Group; Standard Poodle Ch. Randenn Tristar Affirmation in the Non-Sporting Group; and Puli Ch. Cordmaker Field Of Dreams in the Herding Group.



2007 Westminster Winner. English Springer Spaniel Ch. Felicity’s Diamond Jim ‘James’ was top Sporting dog in 2006 and won Best in Show at Westminster in 2007. Best in Show judge Robert A. Indeglia had this to say about James: “The Springer conforms to his standard as closely as any dog I have judged. His movement was symphonic with all parts moving as the ultimate of form and function. On this particular evening, he was most deserving to be awarded Best in Show at Westminster, to follow in the same tradition of those wonderful dogs that have preceded him in the winner’s circle.”

James bested more than 2,600 other dogs and beat six challenging Group 1 winners to get Best in Show. Group 1 winners included Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Ch. Celestial Cj’s Jolly Fairchild in the Hound Group; Akita Ch. Redwitch Reason To Believe in the Working Group; Dandie Dinmont Terrier Ch. Hobergays Fineus Fogg in the Terrier Group; Toy Poodle Ch. Smash Jp Win A Victory in the Toy Group; Standard Poodle Ch. Brighton Minimoto in the Non-Sporting Group; and Bouvier des Flandres Ch. Ace’s Indelible Mark HT in the Herding Group.



2005 Westminster Winner. In 2005 at the 129th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show, German Shorthaired Pointer Ch. Kan-Point’s VJK Autumn Roses ‘Carlee’ took Best in Show over more than 2,500 other dogs. Best in Show judge Lynette Saltzman had this to say about Carlee: “I selected the German Shorthaired Pointer, Ch. Kan-Point’s VJK Autumn Roses. Despite comments to the contrary, it was not her performance that won the day, but rather her type and soundness. She was clearly a bitch, and one that could easily spend the day in the field doing whatever was required of her. Her ground-covering gait was displayed to perfection in the Garden’s huge ring, and she never placed a foot wrong when coming to a stop. Her intelligent, animated expression and beautiful condition were the frosting on the cake.”

To get Best in Show, Carlee bested these six Group 1 winners: Bloodhound Ch. Heathers Knock On Wood in the Hound Group; Great Pyrenees Ch. Dieudonne Impyrial Acclaim in the Working Group; Norfolk Terrier Ch. Cracknor Cause Celebre in the Terrier Group (also won the Group in 2004); Pekingese Ch. Yakee If Only in the Toy Group; Tibetan Terrier Ch. Kimik’s Bare Necessities in the Non-Sporting Group; Border Collie Ch. Borderfame Spellbound in the Herding Group.

1963 Westminster Winner
English Springer Spaniel Ch. Wakefield’s Black Knight was Best in Show at the 1963 Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Read More>>

1938 Westminster Winner
English Setter Daro of Maridor was Best in Show at the 1938 Westminster dog show. Read More>>


Grooming Trends Over the Decades

Whenever conformation judges gather to discuss how dog shows have changed over the decades, it doesn’t take long before the subject of “today’s overgroomed dogs” takes center stage. Flip through the magazines of the 1960s and ’70s, and the show photos speak volumes: Whatever the breed, we see sparser head and leg furnishings, a less tailored look and little evidence of the “P” word (product).

So what’s happened? Are exhibitors and handlers feeling less constrained by the individual edicts of breed standards and eager to put their artistry on display? Are judges more accepting of a generic (big coat, big movement, big everything) show dog? Is it the smorgasbord of shampoos, lotions and potions available for purchase at dog-show vendors and online? Probably a combination of all three. Read more about the presentation and grooming changes in the Sporting Group>>


Watch the Sporting Group in the Ring

Watch the breed judging at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. Click on a Sporting Group Breed to proceed to the video.

American Water Spaniel
Boykin Spaniel
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Clumber Spaniel
Cocker Spaniel, ASCOB
Cocker Spaniel, Black
Cocker Spaniel, Parti Color
Curly-Coated Retriever
English Cocker Spaniel
English Setter
English Springer Spaniel
Field Spaniel
Flat Coated Retriever
German Shorthaired Pointer
German Wirehaired Pointer
Golden Retriever
Gordon Setter
Irish Red and White Setter
Irish Setter
Irish Water Spaniel
Labrador Retriever
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Spinone Italiano
Sussex Spaniel
Welsh Springer Spaniel
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

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