The American Kennel Club (AKC), an independent organization devoted to the advancement of purebred dogs, provides rules and regulations for individual breed eligibility and registration.

As part of this process, breed clubs, via committee, maintain and submit a written definition of "breed type" -- a detailed description of a breed's general and technical attributes based somewhat on it's original historical purpose -- to the AKC. This written definition of breed type is called a "standard." As such, a breed's written standard, represents an ideal for producing and evaluating breeding stock.

It is sometimes said that this ideal can never be achieved -- only approximated. To that end, the standard presents the ultimate pattern for which breeders strive and to which judges compare.

Naturally, in a less formal sense, breeders are always the first judge of their breeding and how well a whelp conforms to the standard of breed type. 

In a more formal sense, conformation is an adjudicated competition that takes place at a dog show. The challenge to the judge, whether it be a "point show" or a "fun match" is to determine the entry that best conforms to the standard. The judge must set about this sometimes difficult task based on his or her knowledge of the standard, experience as a judge and with the breed, and the presentation of the dog on that day.

At a point show, purebred dogs of at least six months of age are presented by a handler or exibitor to a judge, according to a protocol set down by the AKC. The judge awards points -- from one to five, based on the number of dogs entered in each sex -- towards an AKC title of "Champion." To receive this title, a dog must earn 15 points, awarded by no less than three different judges.

For more information about the rules and regulations of AKC dog shows, please refer to their website at

To read the official American Kennel Club Standard of the Breed, please see our related page.

For more information about the concept of conformation and dog shows, please refer to the following publications:

  • The Complete Collie
    by the Collie Club of America
    Howell Book House, Inc.
    New York, New York

  • Collie Concept
    by Bobbee Roos
    Alpine Publications, Inc.
    Loveland, Colorado

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