The Yorkshire Terrier has become synonymous with lap-dog these days but in this tiny package lies an athletic champion.
The conformation ring is the most popular place to find the Yorkshire Terrier. This formal show can be viewed every year during the televised Westminster Kennel Club dog show. These shows demonstrate the most ideal breed attributes and dogs are judged against the breed standard as put forth by the American Kennel Club (or other certifying club). All Yorkies shown in conformation have long coats and are intact. A dog can start showing as early as 6 months old but training must begin long before any ring time.
Yorkies love being the center of attention and have a working history so they are naturals at the more athletic dog sports, too. Learning tricks and performing in competitions is the perfect spotlight for these little stars. Dog sports to consider with your Yorkie include Tracking, Agility, Rally, Obedience, and Free Style. We’ll cover a basic overview of each sport but, since each has its own set of rules and criteria, once you’ve decided what you’re interested in trying the best approach is to locate a training center that help you understand the specifics and provide training to get ready for the big show time!
Rally and Obedience are similar. Rally is a great beginning point for the first-time handler and dog team. In this sport you can talk to your dog while in the ring and even pat your leg during the novice trial. In Obedience the rules are stricter but many of the basic moves are the same such as the sit, down, and heel. Once a command is given in the Obedience ring there are no more instructions or encouragements allowed.
Tracking is a fun sport that uses the hunting prowess of the Yorkie heritage. In this sport your dog will be following a scent from a designated starting point to the end location. These competitions grow increasingly difficult with varied terrain and older scent trails.
Free Style is basically dancing or showing off with your dog. You pick the music and the moves and get out on the ring floor to strut your stuff! Costumes are allowed at some competitions, though not all. Many of the fancy tricks you may have seen on TV or at certain local events come from or are part of Free Style competition routines.
All dogs require a registration number from a certifying official (like the AKC) in order to compete; however, not all competing dogs must be purebred. Only conformation requires that. Therefore, if you have adopted from a shelter you can apply for a number for competition purposes.
There is very little as rewarding as the feeling of working with your dog. No matter what sport or competition style you want to go into you’ll find a network of supportive friends and your bond with your dog will grow. Don’t focus on 1st place; focus on connecting with your best friend.