I had a request from a newcomer to provide some clarification of terms used commonly in obedience, so here goes.
AKC OBEDIENCE TITLES
What are the titles a dog can earn, and how do you know if a particular dog has a particular title?` Here is a list of obedience titles, which are placed after the dog’s name, except that championship titles and UKC titles (see below) are placed in front of the dog’s name.
Companion Dog or CD
Companion Dog Excellent or CDX
Utility Dog or UD
Utility Dog Excellent or UDX
Obedience Trial Champion or OTCh
Tracking Dog or TD (if a dog has both a UD and a TD, the abbreviation becomes UDT)
Tracking Dog Excellent or TDX (if a dog has both a UD and a TDX, the abbreviation becomes UDTX)
Variable Surface Tracker or VST
Champion Tracker or CT
Versatile Companion Dog or VCD 1 through 4
Versatile Companion Champion or VCCH
National Obedience Champion or NOC, which can only be earned once a year, by winning the AKC National Obedience Invitational
There is a whole series of breed-specific titles for performance events like herding, hunting, lure coursing, etc., as well as a lengthy list of agility titles. To recognize the dogs that succeed in obedience, agility and tracking, the AKC recently added titles for Versatile Companion Dogs at levels 1 through 4, and a Versatile Companion Champion for those that reach the top levels in all three areas. Here is how it looks for the redoubtable Zebulon, snoring at my feet. His official name is U-CDX, U-AGII Ch. Zephyre Gotta Dance UDX, TD, HT, MX, MXJ, VCD2. All of this alphabet soup translates as UKC Companion Dog Excellent, UKC Agility Dog II, Champion in conformation, Utility Dog Excellent, Tracking Dog, Herding Tested, Master Agility Excellent, Master Agility Excellent Jumpers, and finally, Versatile Companion Dog 2. He also has a couple of NADAC and USDAA agility titles.
If Rally Obedience is ever made a titling class (it’s been pending for a couple of years now), there will be still more titles to acquire: RN for Rally Novice, RA for Rally Advanced and RX for Rally Excellent. And still more titles if Pre-Novice is made a titling class (I hope not).
When you earn a qualifying score toward any of these titles, it is called a leg on that title.
NON-QUALIFICATION, DISQUALIFICATION AND EXCUSAL
Many exhibitors use these terms interchangeably; but they have different meanings.
A non-qualifying score (or NQ, flunk, bust, etc.) simply means that your dog failed to pass in one class at one show. You and the dog can go home, work on the problem exercise, and show again at the next trial.
A disqualification is a much more serious matter. A dog that is disqualified may not again compete at an AKC event unless and until the owner appeals the disqualification to the AKC and is notified by the AKC that the dog has been reinstated. There are five reasons why a dog would be disqualified:
1. If it is blind.
2. If it is deaf.
3. If it has been artificially altered except as is customary for its breed (like cropping the tail on a Doberman).
4. If it attacks or attempts to attack any person in the ring.
5. If it attacks or attempts to attack another dog in the ring on two occasions.
Notice that no blood has to be shed for it to be considered an attack. Now that you know the difference, you can use the correct terminology and impress your fellow exhibitors with your expertise.
Being excused from the ring means that you won‘t continue to perform any additional exercises, including the group exercises in both Novice and Open. Being excused applies only to the class involved and doesn’t affect any other classes in which the dog is entered on that day or any other day. The exception to this rule is that a dog will be excused if she has stitches anywhere on her body and won’t be allowed to compete again until the stitches have been removed.
If your dog is lame or sick or otherwise unfit to compete, the judge will excuse him. Before proceeding with any other class in which the dog may be entered, consider whether the condition is an isolated occurrence (the dog stepped on a burr that you’ve since removed and is now moving soundly) or if the condition is likely to continue (the dog has galloping diarrhea), and then decide if the dog needs to be taken to the vet or at least removed from competition.
There are a number of other reasons why a judge may excuse either the exhibitor or the dog (although you both must leave when this happens). If the dog, in the judge's opinion, is not under the handler's control (running around the ring as soon as the leash is taken off, barking continuously, urinating to mark territory, or even heeling so poorly on leash that the judge is certain disaster will result when the leash is removed), the judge should excuse the dog. This is done to protect other dogs from potential trouble. If the exhibitor does something she’s not supposed to, like continuously giving the dog leash corrections, or chewing gum or candy in the ring, the judge may excuse the team. The judge is required to write the reason for an excusal in the judge’s book, so you can check it after the class is over, if you don’t understand why you got booted out. Usually, the judge will take a moment in the ring to explain to you why you are being excused.
Being excused is a one-time deal, and the AKC will not put a black mark in its records by your name. The one negative effect excusal has is in Open B and Utility B, as a dog that has been excused will not be counted in the total number of dogs shown. This can affect OTCh points for the winners.
I hope this has provided some clarification, or at least not left you more confused. I want to do a brief self-promotion here, by telling you that all of this information and much more is available in the newest edition of my book, Successful Obedience Handling, published by Alpine Publications.