Some of the prettiest pooches in the land will be in town today for the Napier and Wairoa Combined Kennel Clubs Championship Dog Show. A pack of 525 canines will descend on the Bay in a bid to be called top dog in the region.
Napier Kennel Centre president Carol Kerr said seven judges from Argentina, Uruguay, Canada, the Philippines and Australia would critique the canines' conformation during the two-day event, at Hawke's Bay Racecourse, Hastings.
The dogs are judged in accordance with the breed's show standards, as opposed to obedience and agility.
"It's very complex," Ms Kerr said. "Every breed has a different standard, you don't compare a german shepherd to a doberman."
At least 80 different breeds would come from throughout New Zealand.
Ms Kerr said the dogs had to do what they were bred to do. "A gun dog would need to be able to stay out in the field all day, for example."
She said anyone who bred dogs was classified as a caretaker of the breed.
"If not for these caretakers, they would either die out or become an inferior breed."
She said that prestige drove a lot of the breeders and motivated them to enter these shows.
The dogs were taught from puppies to stand still in the ring for judges to handle them.
"It takes years of experience to handle a dog correctly in the ring."
The coated breeds received a lot of grooming in preparation while light-coated breeds got the five-star treatment.
"They get their nails clipped, fur washed and are looking nice and tidy."
There are seven categories for the dogs: toys, terriers, gun dogs, hounds, non-sporting, utility and working dogs.
There is a competition to win each group, then group winners go for Best in Show.
The public can attend the weekend for free.