Sunday, January 6, 2013

Showing a Dog at a NIPPO Show

For anyone that's interested in how it goes down...

First off you'll need to be a NIPPO member, and have a NIPPO registered dog (obviously). There's an entry form to fill out in Japanese that is fairly straightforward, basic personal and pedigree information needs to be entered. Form is pretty much the same for regional's and the national, with the requirement to show at the national being that the dog has to have received a 'yuryo' ('A' or 'excellent') evaluation from a judge at a regional.

Judging on the day of the show begins at 9am (usually), so you'll want to have your dog ready by then (OBVIOUSLY!). This generally entails a walk, a bit of a cleaning and brushing, but there really isn't much primping going on at a NIPPO show. The idea is to show the dogs as close to their 'natural' state as possible. After the opening speeches, you check in at the main desk and pick up your entry number and a list of all the entrants.

Here are the entry classes:

1. Waka 1 (young dog 1): 8months - 1year 2months (7months - 1year for Shiba)
2. Waka 2 (young dog 2): 1year 2months - 1year 10months (1year - 1year 6months for Shiba)
3. Soken (adolescent dog): 1year 10months - 2year 10months (1year 6months - 2year 6months for Shiba)
4. Seiken (adult dog): 2year 10months - (2year 6months - for Shiba)

There is a Yochiken/Puppy class but only at regionals. Also, at regionals, all the medium size breeds are shown in the same group.

Of course males/females are shown in their respective groups in rings which are roped off squares. Each ring has it's own judge and junior judge.

Round 1 begins with dogs entering the ring according to their entry numbers. Teeth are checked (every Nihon Ken should have 42!), and the judge starts the 'kotai shinsa' (individual specimen judging). Dog & handler are called to the center of the ring where the judge evaluates the dog's confirmation to the Nihon Ken standard. There are three white markers arranged in a triangle within the ring, and the judge will then judge each animal's movement by having the handler walk the dog from each marker to the next, stopping in front of the judge after the last marker. He takes one last look, entrants bow to the judge, and the next dog is called to the center of the ring.

After all the dogs have been examined, and a break is taken for lunch, round 2 begins, the 'hikaku shinsa' (comparison judging). All entrants are brought into the ring, again lined up in numerical order, and the judge slowly moves through the ring comparing the animals. He (there are no female NIPPO judges) will then call a few dogs into the center of the ring. This is the group he judges to be the best dogs in class. After a few more moments, the judge will begin lining up the dogs from 1st place and on down the line. These are temporary placements, and once all the dogs are lined up, the judges will  often switch some of them. The judge then takes off his hat and bows, signalling that the placements are final.

At the regional, there are then 'honbusho' awarded which is something akin to best in show. The number of honbusho available at a regional varies according to how many entrants there are. A dog that has won 6 honbusho receives the title of 'kansei ken' (finished dog), like Gonta here, and then can no longer be shown at regionals.

At the national, the best male and female of each class then go up against each other. Then best of the classes then compete for best in breed, after which the breed tops compete for 1st place, the prime minister's award, 2nd place, the education minister's award, and 3rd place, the cultural minister's award.

Some extra information: dogs are given evaluations ranging from A - excellent, B - good, C - fair, D - ok, E - disqualified. Most dogs shown at NIPPO regionals today receive the A evaluation. Anything less and the dog is not really worth showing (and cannot be shown at the national).


  1. Cool. I never knew the age groups were different for the Shiba and the other dogs. Also, I've seen the taking off of the hat after judgment is final, but never knew it was a universal sign.

    1. Well the taking off the hat and bowing is a respectful gesture, but yes, in the ring when the judge does it at the end, it signals that he is finished.

  2. Thanks for the explenation. Must be very hard to become a Kansei Ken, since the dog have to win "best in show" 6 times at regionals. Good that they exclude the Kansei Ken at regionals to give others a chance to win it too.