The dog (Canis familiaris when considered a distinct species or Canis lupus familiaris when considered a subspecies of the wolf) is a domesticatedcarnivore of the familyCanidae. It is part of the wolf-like canids, and is the most widely abundant terrestrial carnivore. The dog and the extantgray wolf are sister taxa as modern wolves are not closely related to the wolves that were first domesticated, which implies that the direct ancestor of the dog is extinct. The dog was the first species to be domesticated, and has been selectively bred over millennia for various behaviors, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes.
In a conformation show, judges familiar with specific dog breeds evaluate individual dogs for how well they "conform" to published breed standards. Conformation shows are also referred to as dog shows or breed shows. Conformation shows are typically held under the auspices of a national kennel club. At the highest levels are Championship or all-breed shows, which have separate classes for the majority of breeds. In addition, the show can be breed- or group-specific, usually organized by a breed club and often called a "specialty show".
A conformation dog show is not a comparison of one dog to another. It is a comparison of each dog to a judge's mental image of the ideal breed type as outlined in the individual breed's breed standard. A judge chooses the dog(s) that most closely resemble the ideal on that particular day.
Purebred dogs, such as these Airedale Terriers, may participates in conformation dog shows with its owner or handler. Dog shows (and the related sport of Junior Handling for children and young people) are a popular activity; a single show, the 2006 Crufts dog show alone had 143,000 spectators, with 24,640 purebred dogs entered, representing 178 different breeds from 35 different countries.