Central Iowa Kennel Club photo

Hundreds of dogs from across the U.S. will be wagging their tails in Colfax this weekend as the Central Iowa Kennel Club celebrates its 75th year of dog shows.

Club president Kelley Frary, of Des Moines, says at least 150 breeds will be represented by some 1,300 canine competitors from all across Iowa and as far away as Florida. Admission to the show is free and Frary says it’s a great event for spectators of all ages.

“Even if you don’t know anything that’s going on, the dogs are there and you can definitely pet them and meet breeds that you don’t regularly see, so that’s a really great aspect,” Frary says. “For those who have a little bit more trained eye, it is also fun to kind of watch ringside and see how dogs move and learn a little bit about each individual breed because every breed is different.”

If you can’t distinguish a poodle from a Pekingese, she says this is a great place to learn.

“A lot of people, you can approach and ask them, ‘Hey, what do you love about your breed,’ or ‘Tell me a little bit about your breed,’ and most people are super open and will educate you because they love their dogs and want to talk about them,” Frary says. “It’s a really great event for spectators to come out, especially if you love dogs, or even if you don’t, it’s still fun to watch.”

The event is a confirmation-style contest, so judges will be singling out the best hounds, sporting dogs, toys, and other categories.

“Each breed has a standard set forth by the AKC, so that judge is looking at a dog and comparing it to the breed standard,” Frary says. “So at the end of the day, ‘best of breed’ means that that dog is the best representation of that dog’s standard.”

One part of the competition is just for owner-handlers and their pets, while even puppies will be getting started in the sport, as well as junior handlers. Frary says the dogs will be prancing around the grounds, much like you see them do at the famed Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

“Each one of those dogs is basically doing a down-and-back, so the judge is looking at the movement of the dog. They’ll have the dog move around and look at the side gait,” Frary says. “The judge will put hands on the dogs and just kind of go over them. A lot of dogs have a lot of coat so they’ll actually get under that coat and look at the actual structure of the dog.”

The event runs Saturday and Sunday at the Jasper County Fairgrounds in Colfax.