Thousands of Dogs Descend on Southern California

Record numbers are expected at this weekend’s AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Long Beach.

AKC/Eukanuba National ChampionshipForget the mall — the popular place to be this weekend is the 10th annual AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Long Beach, Calif. Some 2,500 of the world’s top show dogs will converge on the city to compete for more than $225,000 in prize money — and major bragging rights.

Event chairman Ron Menaker expects this year’s show to produce striking matchups. “The top dogs from across the country have entered, including our new AKC Grand Champions, so we expect this event to be one of most hotly contested championships yet,” he says.

The two-day show is held in conjunction with the AKC Agility Invitational and the AKC Obedience Invitational, the Junior Showmanship competition and the Eukanuba World Challenge, making for a major, Olympic-style multidisciplinary event. Here’s a quick look at the headline competitions:

AKC/Eukanuba National Championship

  • How many competitors? Roughly 2,500 dogs, representing 167 breeds. The largest entry by breed: French Bulldog, with 43.

  • Who gets to compete? The show is invite-only, which means the AKC invites participants to compete. Dogs who make the cut: the top 25 dogs in every AKC-recognized breed and variety; every Breeder/Owner/Handled Champion, Amateur-Owner Handled Champion, Grand Champion and Best in Show winner during the qualification period; and each breed’s national specialty show winner.

  • Want to know how a dog becomes a champion? Read a helpful guide by clicking here. For a look at the road to Best in Show, click here.

AKC Agility Invitational

  • How many competitors? 473 dogs, ranging from the Great Dane to the Chihuahua. Several rare breeds entered include the Bolognese, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Coton de Tulear, Mudi, Pharaoh Hound and Pumi.

  • Who gets to compete? The AKC invites the top five agility dogs from all recognized breeds. FCI membership countries get to send teams of three dogs. Winners will be crowned in five height classes: 8”, 12”, 16”, 20” and 24”.

  • Course snapshot. Each day Excellent-level Standard and Jumpers with Weaves courses will be run. After the completion of four rounds over two days, the top dogs in each jump height will move to the finals. The Finals are open only to the top 57 dogs overall through the four rounds of competition.

AKC National Obedience Invitational

  • How many competitors? 117 dogs representing 46 breeds.
  • Who gets to compete? Dogs must be the top OTCH-pointed dogs in each breed.

  • Course snapshot. Dogs compete in a six-round “round robin” format tournament on Saturday, performing Open and Utility-level exercises twice as well as one set of group stays. The dogs’ cumulative scores are calculated, and the top scoring dog from each variety group advances to the Sunday finals, along with the next top 25 scoring dogs of any breed. A total of 32 dogs compete in Sunday’s championship rounds.

Eukanuba World Challenge

  • How many competitors? Forty-three dogs will compete in the Eukanuba World Challenge. Countries represented include Australia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

  • Who gets to compete? Rare breeds such as the Cane de Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese and the Eurasier will compete against more traditional favorites for the Eukanuba World Challenge Champion title and $15,000 in prize money.

In addition to cutthroat canine competition, the event will feature the popular Meet the Breeds section, where visitors can meet and mingle with dogs from nearly every AKC-recognized breed. Dock diving, police dog and herding demonstrations will also take place throughout the weekend to entertain attendees.

Can’t make it to Long Beach? Follow the action on Facebook or Twitter. A broadcast of the show will appear on network TV Sunday, Jan. 23 on ABC. Check local listings for airtimes.

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