Titles on Our Dogs and What They Mean Compared to Other Titles Commonly Seen on Imported Golden Retrievers
All of our dogs have some type of conformation title. Several of our dogs have earned conformation titles in very competitive venues including three Canadian Championships, one Canadian Grand Championship, and one REAL International Championship. We've taken good conformation to a much higher level than most.
Many English Golden Retriever breeders in the U.S. have dogs that have earned an IABCA International Championship. IABCA is one of several organizations that bring in judges from out of the country (usually from Canada) and award international titles at shows held here in the U.S. These titles are not difficult to earn. A majority of the dogs competing win. All of our dogs, past and present, have earned an IABCA International Championship in only one weekend of shows. It was a great place for my daughters to learn handling skills when they were young and these shows are a good starting place for young dogs to gain experience in the show ring. Our Luke did have a noteworthy accomplishment at an IABCA show when he won junior reserve BIS (Best in Show). He was the second best young dog of all breeds in the entire show. A BIS or a reserve BIS is an honor at any dog show.
To my knowledge, Micah is the only Golden Retriever in the U.S. that holds an FCI International title. FCI is the European organization that awards International titles in Europe. To receive an FCI International Championship, you must receive a certain number of CACIB's. In order to earn a CACIB, a dog must be the best dog of his breed and sex at an International Dog Show (sometimes referred to as a CACIB dog show) and the dog must have a score of excellent. The competition is strong. Unlike the IABCA shows, these international shows are where the best dogs in Europe compete. Micah has won 7 CACIB's in three different countries giving him an International Championship title that means far more than the IABCA International Championship. If Micah was still in Europe, he'd be one of only a few with an International Championship, but since he's in the U.S., many people confuse his accomplishment with what hundreds (if not thousands) of other Golden Retrievers have received at IABCA shows.
Titles from AKC and Canada are also very difficult to get and many breeders spend countless weekends and thousands (or sometimes tens of thousands) of dollars campaigning their dogs before completing these championships. Three of our dogs (Micah, Luke, and Kate) have Canadian Championships. Micah has also been successfully shown as a champion and earned a Canadian Grand Championship.
All three of the dogs that I took to Canada completed their Canadian Championships very quickly having several very impressive wins. Micah won BIG (Best in Group) over all sporting dogs at the show with over 40 dogs competing in the group on his very first day in the Canadian show ring. He won Best of Breed several times over the course of his show career in Canada including winning at two shows with over 20 Golden Retrievers competing. Kate has won in large classes as well, beating over 10 other female Golden Retrievers more than once. Luke got Best of Opposite sex over several dogs that were already champions and won 9 out of 10 required points in his first weekend in the Canadian show ring. Micah finished his Canadian Championship in a single weekend by winning consistently at large shows. Only the best of dogs are able to finish this quickly in Canada.
We have several different types of obedience titles. Some are MUCH easier to earn than others.
Regular obedience titles are the most difficult to attain and require the most training. In even the lowest of levels of regular obedience, commands can only be given once and dogs must heal in perfect position for fairly long healing patterns with the handler giving only a one word command to start. The dog must change speeds automatically with the handler and sit straight in perfect heal position when the handler stops, all while the handler gives no further verbal or physical cues. Higher levels of regular obedience require complicated tasks to be performed such as long sits and downs, sometimes with the handler out of site, dropping to a down in the middle of a recall, retrieving over jumps, retrieving specific scented articles, retrieving specific gloves when several are placed in various locations, jumping specific jumps when more than one is available, going out to certain places on command, and performing certain other commands by signal (no verbal cues allowed) when the handler is across the ring from the dog. High levels of regular obedience is only attained through daily practice for sometimes years. Our Jack was my first obedience dogs and he was trained to this level and the two of us as a team won a number of first places at the higher levels of obedience. You can see videos of Jack at a couple of obedience trials on his page.
Rally obedience is a fairly new AKC obedience venue. Rally was originally started as a mode for new dogs to practice regular obedience exercises in a show setting but without the pressures that regular obedience puts on a handler and a dog. Rally incorporates many of the same skills learned for regular obedience but doesn't go as far with them. The most important difference between Rally Obedience and Regular Obedience is in the amount of communication allowed between handler and dog. In rally, handlers can be in constant communication with their dog as the dog/handler team performs various exercises dictated by signs in a course. Exercises at the most advanced levels require dogs to work off leash healing through the course as they stop at various signs. Signs include requirements for such things as sits, downs, stays, standing on command, fronts, finishes, backing up while healing, and pivots.
Rally is a lot of fun but compared to regular obedience is much easier. I took our Tara through the training and completed the titles for all 3 levels of rally in less than three months starting when she was only 12 months of age. It took me almost 2 years to train Jack to the utility level in regular obedience. Both types of obedience are a lot of fun and I encourage interested families to get involved with either type of AKC obedience. Any of our puppies can be trained for it.The CGC is the most basic of obedience titles and only requires basic good manners in public. This title can be earned at most obedience clubs and going to a formal obedience trial isn't necessary. The CGC is probably the best place to start for someone new to the sport.