European Dog Show Rules

European dog shows are regulated by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale
dogs image by Anton Chernenko from

To travel throughout Europe for showing purposes, dog owners must have their animals micro-chipped for identification and be up-to-date with vaccinations. Countries have their own standards for dog showing, and exhibitors must be aware of these regulations. Rules may also vary regarding dog cages, traveling with dogs in cars and other issues. Contact the national kennel club or similar organization in each country for specifics.

Fédération Cynologique Internationale

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale, or FCI, is the governing body of European dog shows. The FCI is not a registry. According to its website, it has 84 members or contract partners that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. It is the FCI's job to ensure that these pedigrees and judges are recognized by all members/partners. Catalogs for shows must be printed in all four languages approved by the FCI: French, English, Spanish and German.

International Beauty Champion

FCI members must organize at least one Certificat d'Aptitude au Championnat International de Beauté de la FCI, or International Beauty Champion show, annually. Only one championship may be awarded for each gender, variety or breed. Such shows may only be held on the same date by member organizations if the locales are at least 300 kilometers apart. Breeds must be judged in one day, and it is recommended that breeds of the same group also be judged on that day.

Dog Groups

Ten groups of dogs have FCI recognition, and differ from the groupings of the American Kennel Club, the governing body in the United States. The FCI groups are sheepdogs and cattle dogs with the exception of Swiss Mountain Dogs; pinschers and schnauzers, which include the Swiss Mountain Dog, terriers, dachshunds, spitz and primitive types, scenthounds and related breeds, pointers, retrievers, companion and toy, and sighthounds.

Tail Docking and Ear Cropping

According to FCI rules, dogs with cropped ears or docked tails are permitted to be shown as per the regulations of their home countries and the show host countries as to these procedures. It states, "The judging of docked and undocked or cropped and uncropped dogs must be done without any discrimination and solely in accordance with the valid breed standard." In addition, anything that alters the color, structure or form of the dog is prohibited. Brushing and combing only are permissible.