Dog Traits

On ShowDog.Com, there are numerous traits that are used to define the quality of the dogs. Understanding the traits and what to look for is essential to being successful in the show ring and breeding on this site. All traits range in value from 0 to 20.

There are two primary types of dog traits on ShowDog.Com, breed standard traits and pure traits. For breed standard traits, you want your dog to be as close to a 10 a possible. Anything higher or lower is a deviation from the breed standard and frowned upon in the show ring. Remember, a 10 for one breed isn't the same real size as a 10 for another breed, it is based on the individual breed standard with 10 being inline with the breed standard. 


Two dogs, a Doberman and a Pug have a rating of 10 for size. While both dogs would be considered to have excellent size for their breed, in reality they would have extremely different sizes.

For sessionable traits and show shine, you want your dog to be as close to a 20 as possible. For example, a head rating of 20 isn't good but a show shine rating of 20 is absolutely excellent.


Two dogs, both German Shepherd dogs, have the following traits;

Size Show Shine
Dog A 10 20
Dog B 10 10

On ShowDog.Com, Dog A would be considered to be much better than Dog B because both dogs meet the breed standard for size, but Dog A has much better show shine.

Genetic Traits

Genetic traits are inherited from parents to offspring. Once born, genetic traits are not influenced by any action done to or by the dog. 


The head ratings are based on the shape of your dogs head, length of muzzle, quality of teeth, eye color, ear shape/size, and other traits dealing with the head. 10 is ideal and any higher or lower is undesirable.


The forequarters rating is based on the angularity and overall shape of your dogs from legs and shoulders. 10 is ideal and any higher or lower is undesirable.


Like the forequarter rating, the hindquarter rating is based on the angularity and shape of your dog's hindquarters. 10 is ideal and any higher or lower is undesirable.


Gait is a measure of the ability of a dog to move and how well it strides. 10 is ideal and any higher or lower is undesirable.

Neck, Topline, and Back (NT&B)

Neck, Topline, and Back, commonly referred to as NT&B, is a measure of the overall muscularity and structure of the top of a dog. 10 is ideal and any higher or lower is undesirable.

Coat Quality

Coat is a pretty self explanatory trait that is extremely important in some breeds while almost completely ignored in others. Coat quality, a trait on the second line of your dogs traits, is a genetic trait that in passed on from the parents of a dog and includes dog hair and color patterns. In all breeds, 10 is best and any deviation from that, above or below is frowned upon.


Size is simply defined as the height of your dog. The only way to have an impact on the size of your dogs is through a proper breeding management program.


Temperament is a self explanatory trait that varies greatly by breed. 10 is ideal and any higher or lower is undesirable.

Show Shine

Show shine can best be described as the "it" in, "that dog has it". It is that special something that makes your dog shine in the show ring and somehow makes people notice the dog. You want your dogs to have as much show shine as possible and 20 is the best.

Acquired Traits

Acquired traits are determined by the environment your dog experiences. They can be modified by working with your dog and by the food you choose to feed your dog.


Condition is the 'fatness' of your dog. You can have a huge impact on your dogs condition by feeding it properly (see this page for details). 20.0 is the best Condition for your dogs.

Muscle Tone

Muscle tone is based on the shape of your dogs muscles. This trait is impacted by how often you exercise your dogs. 20 is the best.

Coat Condition

Coat Condition is the condition of your dog's coat. This trait is impacted by how often you groom your dogs. 20 is the best.

Show Obedience

Show Obedience is how well your dog listens to its handler. This trait is impacted by how often you train your dog. 20 is the best.

Obedience Skills

Obedience Skills are based on how well trained your dog is. Different skills are required for each level of Obedience (Novice, Open, Excellent).  Some dogs are easier to train than others but all dogs should be trained to a rating of at least 10 before they are shown. It is much easier to increase the obedience rating of your dog when they are young. 20 is the best rating for each obedience skill.

Last Updated: 7/3/2011 2:32:57 PM

Did you know?
There are about 900 breeds of sheep in the world.
Did you know?
A specialty show may be regional or national. A "Best in Show" win at a national specialty show is tremendously prestigious, indicating that the winning dog or bitch triumphed at a contest which attracted entries from the most serious fanciers of that breed in the country or continent. Some specialty shows attract international entries.
Did you know?
A conformation dog show is not a comparison of one dog to another but 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.