Dog Shows in Central Kentucky

Lexington and Louisville’s Major Dog Events

Have you been wanting to spend a weekend fully immersed in everything dog? Did you just rewatch Best in Show for the 5th time? Is your dog in desperate need of a shopping spree?

If you answered “Yes!” to any of these, you will probably want to attend one of the two big cluster shows held annually in central Kentucky. These dog shows feature a variety of competitive activities for registered dogs, including conformation, obedience, rally, agility, dock diving, and barn hunt. If you are a competitor in any of these events, both shows are well run and fun to attend. If you are just getting started in dog sports, these shows can be a great way to get a feel for the sports, meet some seasoned exhibitors, and learn about how to get started with your own dog.

These shows can also be a great place for you to find your next canine companion. Many different breeds of dog will be in attendance, and many of these dogs are accompanied by either their breeder or an owner who has a true passion for their breed of choice. If you are still deciding which breed of dog would be best for you, you will get a chance to see individuals of a multitude of breeds at a dog show. When you see a dog that you would like to talk to the owner about, be sure to ask them (during the dog’s down time) about their experience with the breed and how they would describe life with that dog. 

Another big draw is that these events have quite a bit of vendors! Anything that you could possibly want for your dog will be on display at these shows. Food, supplements, toys, treats, leashes, coats, beds, treadmills…the list goes on and on. These events are a great way to stock up on supplies that you may need throughout the year. Other vendors at the shows are service based businesses, such as pet photographers, massage therapists, and even a pet psychic. The shows also sometimes have health clinics set up, where you can register your dog for testing for genetic health concerns that are specific to their breed. If you are interested in seeing which vendors and health clinics will be available at each show, you can check on their websites.

The Kentuckiana Cluster of Dog Shows in Louisville, KY

The oldest show catalog on record in the American Kennel Club library comes from a show in Louisville, KY that was held in 1894. The long and storied tradition of dog shows in the city continues to this day with the annual Kentuckiana Cluster. This show is typically held in mid-March at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. This is a four day event that attracts competitors from all over the country, and it isn’t uncommon to see some top dogs fly in to strut their stuff. Conformation is done on all four days, and this show is part of the AKC National Owner-Handler Series. Several specialty shows and supported entries take place over the course of the weekend. Agility, obedience, and rally are also part of the show on all four days. Dock diving and barn hunt are more recent additions to the roster, but these events are heavily supported and are great entry level sports for first time dog exhibitors. 

If you are attending as a spectator, here are some things to know.
-Food vendors are on site, and there are several restaurants located nearby. 
-Pets that are not entered are not permitted inside of the show grounds.
-Meet the Breeds will be done on Saturday and Sunday. This is a great event if you are on the lookout for your next puppy or dog.
-Louisville Metro Police Department will be doing K9 demos Fri-Sun.
-There will be a special dog show on Saturday for kids under 5 years of age and their stuffed dogs.

​If you are interested in attending, please check out the Kentuckiana Cluster website for more information and a schedule of events.

Louisville dog show

Wild hanging out in the obedience area at the Kentuckiana Cluster.

The Bluegrass Classic in Lexington, KY

Located at the picturesque Kentucky Horse Park, the Bluegrass Classic is a 5 day show that takes place over Labor Day weekend. The Alltech Arena is transformed from an equestrian venue to a dog facility, and over 1,400 dogs will take over the site. This show features conformation, obedience, and rally in the main building, with the latter two events being held off to one side. Barn hunt, lure coursing, and dock diving are also offered at this show. Vendors can be found on both the ground level and the upstairs section of the arena, and food is available on site. For those wishing to maximize their trip, the Kentucky Horse Park is in operation during the show and is a great place to explore

If you are planning on attending this show…
-You will not have to pay for parking at the main gate, but you will when you reach the Alltech Arena.​
-No un-entered dogs are allowed on the show grounds.
-Food is available on-site, and downtown Lexington is only a short drive away.
For more information, please visit the Bluegrass Classic website.

Bluegrass classic rally

Temper competing in rally at the Bluegrass Classic in 2015.

Tips for Attending Your First Dog Show

If you are heading to your first dog event and are not sure on the etiquette you should be following, here are a few tips on how to make the most of your dog show experience.

  • Arriving early will ensure you get to see all of the action; just make sure you are not blocking exhibitors who are trying to unload vehicles or get dogs ready to head to the ring.
  • Most shows do not allow people to bring their pets onto the show grounds, so double check the rules before you bring Fido along.
  • Most handlers are more than happy to talk to people about their dogs and let you meet their dogs. Common courtesy if you would like to meet a dog is to always ask first, and to try and avoid approaching handlers when they are getting ready to head into the ring. Some of these dogs have spent hours being groomed, and petting a dog without permission before he enters the ring could disrupt his focus or mess up his grooming job.
  • Food is often available on site at shows, but be aware of where you are standing while you are eating your lunch. It can be hard for a dog to focus on his handler when a decadent hamburger is calling from just outside the ring!
  • Bring along your wallet for some awesome shopping! Dog show vendors carry a wide array of great products, and they make for a great splurge in the dog department.
  • Ask questions! People who are at these shows with their dogs are people who are truly passionate about their dogs and their breed. There is no better place to find out information about your favorite breed, or to explore options for your next furry family member.

Whichever dog show you choose to attend, you are pretty much guaranteed to have a good time. You may even find yourself catching the dog show bug and join in the fun next year with your own dog.