Silver Tips
Dog Shows 101 (Westminster KC)

Related Links

AKC point schedule
InfoDog (dog show schedules & results)
AKC conformation page
The Samoyed Standard

Best Fun

in Show

by Tamara Somerville  © 2016

“Silver tips” are the Samoyed guard hairs glistening beautifully in the light and which signify a proper coat that protects the dogs in harsh climates. We chose Silver Tips for the name of PVSC’s conformation promotion effort because of its relevance to the Samoyed Standard (“The coat should glisten with a silver sheen….”) and its allusion to the mentoring aspects of this initiative.  

There is within PVSC a tremendous breadth of experience in conformation and generosity of spirit to share this collective knowledge of the sport of dog shows.  PVSC is committed to preserving the Samoyed breed in form and function so that Samoyeds in the future can be as capable as their ancestors, who pulled heavy sleds, herded reindeer and endured the extreme weather of Siberia.  Conformation events that recognize those Samoyeds most representative of the breed standard, and therefore most suitable for breeding, are an essential responsibility of the community of Samoyed enthusiasts.

The core purpose of conformation is to evaluate breeding stock.  Modern dog shows are widely understood to have their roots in a judged competition that took place in England in 1859 in association with a livestock show, in which there was one class for Pointers and another for Setters.  There was already such regard for dogs in England that fifteen thousand spectators were in attendance.  

“The Kennel Club” (of England) was formed and its first show held, in 1873, with 975 dogs entered.  The first Crufts Dog Show, today the world’s largest, was held in 1891.  The dog “fancy” was not far behind in the United States, where in 1877 the Westminster Kennel Club conducted its first show, in which 1,271 dogs were entered and 20,000 spectators were on hand to view the proceedings.  Among the dogs in that first Westminster show were two Staghounds attributed to General George Custer and Deerhounds bred by the Queen of England.  Westminster is the second-oldest sporting event in the U.S., the Kentucky Derby having preceded it by two years.

The U.S. east coast is also home to the Morris & Essex Kennel Club, whose conformation shows in their heyday rivaled Westminster and Crufts in fame and prestige, as over 4,000 dogs were entered and spectators numbered over 50,000.  Hosted by Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge on her polo fields beginning in 1927, the Morris & Essex show now occurs every five years.  In 2015, Potomac Valley Samoyed Club was honored to support the Samoyed specialty during the Morris & Essex extravaganza at Somerset, New Jersey.

Less grand, but quite impressive and more numerous and accessible to dog fans in the mid-Atlantic, are the “all-breed” dog shows in Maryland and Virginia.  Occurring throughout the year, at indoor and outdoor venues, several of these shows can boast thousands of entries representing all the AKC-recognized groups (Working, Sporting, Herding, Hound, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting).  Potomac Valley Samoyed Club has a long history of hosting and supporting two “Specialities” (Samoyed-only)  a year in conjunction with these all-breed shows put on by Old Dominion Kennel Club, Middleburg Kennel Club, Chesapeake Kennel Club, Warrenton Kennel Club and other kennel clubs in our region. 

We encourage PVSC members to explore entering their AKC-registered Samoyeds in conformation events and would like to offer the club’s assistance in making the experience an enjoyable success.  To that end, we are offering in the PVSC Silver Tips program classes to learn and hone the skills of “handling” dogs in the show ring.  We also conduct grooming clinics that are helpful to all Samoyed owners in learning about equipment and techniques that will keep their Samoyed’s coat and skin healthy all year as well as gorgeous when in the show ring.  We will share information on improving your Samoyed’s show prospects through improved physical fitness via exercise and optimal nutrition.  And to provide opportunities for show practice, we will host an annual AKC-recognized “fun match” at which rosettes will be awarded in a supportive atmosphere with expert guidance.  

Family Fun

Dog shows can be fun for the whole family, not just in being spectators but also as participants.  PVSC is particularly proud of our “Junior Handlers” — youngsters who are demonstrating considerable poise and dedication in their involvement in all aspects of conformation, including handling Samoyeds in the show ring.  These young people are learning skills and gaining confidence that will serve them well in other spheres of life.  If your child might be interested in junior handling, please let us know.  Junior handlers can compete in regular shows as well as in juniors-only competitions at some of the bigger all-breed shows.

Whether or not you are going to show your Samoyed, we hope that you and your family will enjoy experiencing dog shows as spectators.  For the $5 cost of parking the car, you will gain entrance to a landscape in which the Complete Book of Dogs comes to life.  At many of these shows you can also enjoy shopping at vendors offering the best dog-related products at competitive prices. 

You can view a schedule of shows being held throughout the United States at   

In 2016, PVSC’s Spring Specialty will take place on April 23 in Timonium, Maryland, and our Fall Specialty will be held on December 3rd at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, Maryland.