Division of dogs into different groups within the competitions

Agility is a relatively new form of competitive activity for dogs, in which a good physical shape of the animal and handler's ability to train and guide the dog through certain obstacles are estimated.

Although each organization develops its own agility regulations, all of them divide dogs into smaller categories that are close to each other in size and experience in order to determine the winners and score the qualifying points.

1. Dogs height is measured at their withers level (shoulders peaks). Further they are divided into groups by height. For instance, dog with the size between 30 and 41 cm can compete with each other in jumps, fixed at a height of 41 cm. This will ensure fair competitions. In other words, the dogs that might potentially have any advantage on the course due to their size (bigger or smaller), are now virtually devoid of this.

According to the international agility regulations all dogs are divided into three height categories:

  • Small: S (Small) - dogs smaller than 35 cm at the withers

  • Medium: M (Medium) - dogs with measuring more than 35 cm, but less than 43 cm at the withers

  • Large: L (Large) - the dogs with measuring 43 cm or higher at the withers.

Remember ...

The dog must be measured by official measurers before it can compete in the first agility contest.

To go through measuring:

  • The dog must be registered with the organization or kennel club (conducting measurements) in the breed or activities registry.

  • You need to get an official Agility record (registration) book for your dog (which can be obtained or purchased at the club).

  • The dog must have a microchip or tattoo on its ear. In their absence, you need to bring passport-size photos of your dog for clear identification, when you come for the measurement. The picture should be done even for microchipped dog, as in some measuring sessions, the chip might be difficult to detect, but having photographs the results of measurement will be necessarily recorded.

  • The dog must be older 15 months - with the only exception for very large breeds, which should be measured prior to the age of 15 months (at the measurers’ discretion).

You will need to pay a fee to the measurers for each measurement session in amount established in this organization or club.

Measuring Procedure:

  • All dogs must be measured before they will be allowed to participate in the official Agility show.

  • Dogs have to be registered with a club or organization in a breed or activity registry before being measured.

  • Small and medium size dogs must undergo re-measurement and must be in the age of 15 months or older before their first measurement.

  • If a particular dog is visibly ‘large’ (clearly more than 43 cm), it can be measured before the age of 15 months. For measurers to be sure of the actual "large" size of a dog, the second area for measuring notes in the Record Book must be crossed out and signed by both measurers, indicating thereby that the second measurement is unnecessary.

  • Large dogs, which were not "clearly large" on their first measurement, and all small and medium-sized dogs must have a note in the Record book about the second measurement, made between 12 and 24 months after their initial measuring session. If the second measurement changes the dog’s height category relative to the initial one, the third measurement must be made within two calendar months from the date of the second measuring. This has to be accomplished by two measurers, none of which have measured the dog before. The official category of the dog's height will be confirmed only by the third measurement.

  • In case of doubt, which height category the dog should be placed in, during the measurement procedure, this dog must be moved on the field at least three times between the first and second measures readings. The dog may be held by its owner or the person designated by the owner (handler). The measurer has the right to adjust the dog’s position only with the consent of the owner/trainer.

  • Dogs must compete in their original height category, while the third measurement session confirms their final size.

  • Certified by signature the dog’s Agility record book must be available for viewing at any request of the show administration or judge on the day of the competition.

  • In cases if the dog’s height category was changed, it is allowed, at the discretion of the show Secretary, to modify the competition entry to enable this dog to compete in its true size category.

  • If the dog’s height is altered, the awards received before the final measurement will remain valid.

  • Owners / handlers are eligible to appeal to the club in writing within seven days if they do not agree with the results of measurement (disputed measure); this treatment must include reasons for the appeal, a detailed description of the measuring procedures and the appropriate fee for processing and re-measurement.

2. The dogs are further divided according to the level of experience. For example, there can be competitions for 30 centimeters Beginner dogs, 30 cm Intermediate dogs and 30 cm group of Professionals.

According to the regulations of the American Kennel Club (AKC) dogs usually need to have some successful runs at lower levels before they can move on to compete with more trained animals. In some situations, clubs permit novice dogs to run on a leash.

Male and female dogs are allowed to participate in agility trials, regardless of whether they are neutered (spayed) or not. However, if any female dog is pregnant, it will be ineligible to compete.

Dogs are not entitled to participate in certain agility classes, if they do not meet the demands of lower classes. In AKC dogs that have not yet earned titles in agility can only participate in classes for beginners, while the dogs, which obtained the Novice titles are eligible to compete in Excellent classes only after they first have earned the titles in the Open levels. In other words, to overcome consistently all levels of difficulty, as the Open level follows the Novice level and followed by the Excellent level – class level for professionals.

In addition to the complexity eligibility, all dogs and their owners should be classified according to their particular qualities at the Novice, Open and Advanced levels. A dog can only be accepted in the Division for Beginners A, if it has not yet had a chance to earn any AKC agility titles. Nevertheless, even a dog without any titles in agility is suitable for the Division for Beginners B, if the handler running an obstacle course with this dog has previously earned an agility title in with another dog.

Finally, the dogs can participate in agility competitions, only if they are in good terms with the sanctioning organization (AKC). No dog, which has previously been disqualified for aggression or attack, is permitted to compete. Although by the AKC rules, if the dog came into the fight with the other dogs, it is possible to apply to the administration for reinstatement.