More than 160 dogs will take to the dog trials competition show course at the annual Hawke's Bay Royal A&P Show this week.

Farmers have travelled from all over the North Island to compete for the winning cup and a $1000 cash prize, Hawke's Bay A&P Show dog trials president David Evans said.

The first of three competition days began at 8am yesterday morning with 60 dogs competing at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds into the late afternoon.

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Mr Evans said 15 dogs would be selected to compete in the final run-off tomorrow - six from yesterday, seven from today and two from tomorrow.

While the competition was off to a good start, he said the number of entries was an "average amount" for the show's staple event.

The farmer said today would see many competitors from outside of Hawke's Bay put their dogs to the test, having travelled from as far as Taranaki and competed at many other shows, such as last weekend's Poverty Bay A&P Show.

Mr Evans said 330 sheep had been brought from Maungatutu Station in Patoka and had been worked since Sunday to settle them.

"We quiet them down to get them used to dogs, otherwise they would be bouncing off the fences."

He said the key to doing well in the trials was to complete the five sections of the show course as smoothly as possible, but added factors such as the time of day and weather often affected performances.

Ian Burling of Taumarunui was the dog trials competition judge this year and will rank the finalised 15 dogs in order tomorrow.

Mr Evans said farmers were primarily motivated to compete in the trials by the opportunity it offered to improve their dogs; one of their most valuable assets - often worth between $5000 and $10,000.

"Obviously most of us are farmers and we use our dogs for work. Entering the dog trials is really an extension of that work, perfecting the work and out of a general love for dogs."

He said there was a great industry behind the dogs, both in breeding and buying, and most dogs peaked for the trials between 3 and 5 years old.

The overall winner of this year's show will gain a ribbon, cup, $1000 cash prize and the title. Minor prizes are also given to maiden dogs who are just starting off in their careers.

Mr Evans said the event was just as social as it was competitive, and a few beers had already been shared at the dog trials competition.

"We are all competitive but get together to tell stories."