Showing Your Japanese Akita
If you’re interested in showing your Japanese Akita in the conformation ring, please read the following carefully. Keep in mind that not every dog is show worthy, nor does every dog love entering the show ring or even being in the show atmosphere. You and your trusted breeder should be able to determine whether or not conformation competitions would be appropriate for your dog. We highly recommend that new owners study the breed standard and read JACA’s Guide to Judging the Japanese Akita.
The Japanese Akita Club of America (JACA) is the designated parent club of the Japanese Akita breed in the United Kennel Club (UKC). Under the auspices of the UKC, anyone with a UKC registered purebred Japanese Akita is able to compete in UKC conformation shows across the US and Canada, and JACA hosts an annual Invitational show in Southern California. Only UKC registered dogs can enter in a UKC conformation show (i.e., your dog must have a UKC permanent registration in order for you compete in UKC conformation events).
If your dog was not part of a litter registered with UKC by the breeder, but has a pedigree from UKC-acknowledged registries, please review the single registration requirement here to determine if your dog is eligible for UKC registration.
Instructions to register a qualified Japanese Akita may be found here:
Dogs that are not permanently registered or do not have a UKC Performance Listing number must have a Temporary Listing number to enter UKC licensed events. Please visit this link https://www.ukcdogs.com/tl-numbers to request a temporary listing number and review the associated Rules & Info.
If you have never shown dogs in conformation before, we strongly encourage you to take a conformation training class to learn about preparation, required equipment, handling (practice showing) with an instructor’s guidance. The book called The Winning Edge: Show Ring Secrets by George Alston is also a good reference.
When and where are conformation shows held?
While the JACA hosted Nihonken Invitational is an annual event, held on the 2nd Saturday each February, information on UKC conformation events hosted by individual breed clubs can be found at https://www.ukcdogs.com/conformation
A typical conformation event listing contains the following information. Brief explanations are added where appropriate:
- Event Name
- Host Club
- Secretary (of the host club) and contact information
- Chairperson (of the host club) and contact information
- Events Offered
- Some Conformation shows do not include all classes, others do not include all breed
- JAs are shown under Northern Breed. So if the schedule does not list Northern Breed, you may wish to contact the show secretary to confirm
- Directions (the location is not always easy to find via GPS)
- Conformation Schedule
- Sometimes there are more than one shows on the same day, with different start times. This is when the show starts. Plan to arrive 30 minutes to an hour before start time to check in and pick up the arm band
- Pre-Entry Fees
- Usually there is a discount for entering your dog in advance (versus Day of Show entry fees), and also entering the same dog to multiple shows/multiple days
- There also may be a difference in fees between conformation classes for intact and altered dogs, and junior showmanship
- Day of Show Fees
- Pre-Entry Deadline
- Last day to send in pre-entries for the discounted entry fees
- Please send Pre-Entries to the event secretary (or other designee). Event secretary and contact information is usually noted when a show is announced.
In the UKC, as opposed to AKIHO, you may use bait in the show ring. In this photo, Bubble’s owner/handler gets her attention by holding a treat in front of her which gives the judge a chance to see Bubble’s alertness and focus. Bubble has done her fair share of winning in conformation when she’s not busy playing with her human siblings.
If you’re truly interested in your dog having a show career, it’s important to start them young so they get used to being around other dogs (and fawning fans!) and being looked over by judges. Here, Senka is being prepped for her future debut in the big girl show ring.
Not every dog will enjoy being in the ring. There are dogs who find the show atmosphere stressful. Although winning in conformation is prestigious and fun, the most important aspect of showing your dog is knowing your dog is comfortable and having fun. Believe it or not, some dogs are naturals and thrive in the conformation ring like Mikan in this photo.