Agility is a sport that appeals to all dog lovers – from young people to senior citizens. It has great spectator appeal. Agility is designed to demonstrate a dog’s willingness to work with its handler in a variety of situations. It is an athletic event that requires conditioning, concentration, training and teamwork. Dog and handlers negotiate an obstacle course racing against the clock.
There are several types of classes offered at an AKC agility trial: Standard, Jumpers with Weaves, Fifteen And Send Time (FAST), Time 2 Beat (T2B) and Preferred. The Standard class has contact obstacles, which have yellow “contact zones” at each end. Contact obstacles include A-frame, dog walk and seesaw. The dog must place a least one paw in the contact zone in order not to receive a fault. This encourages safety in training and in running the course. The Standard class also has a variety of jumps; weave poles, pause table, tunnels and a closed tunnel. The Jumpers with Weaves class does not have contact obstacles or a pause table to slow the team’s forward momentum. This is a very fast course requiring instant decisions by the handler and close attention from the dog. The FAST class is an additional test of strategy, skill, accuracy, speed, timing and distance handling, to demonstrate a dog’s athletic ability and willingness to work with its handler in a fast-paced atmosphere over a variety of agility obstacles. As indicated by the title, the Fifteen and Send Time class uses fifteen (15) point-valued obstacles and/or obstacle combinations. The course will include a ‘Send Bonus’ or distance element that will award a bonus of twenty (20) points if completed successfully. The optional Time 2 Beat (T2B) agility titling class is meant to challenge the handler/dog to set a clean efficient line with an emphasis on speed and accuracy. The dog that sets the quickest time in each jump height will set the time to beat for that jump height.
In the first year of AKC agility (1994), there were approximately 2,000 entries in AKC agility trials.
AKC agility is available to every registerable breed. From tiny Yorkshire Terriers to giant Irish Wolfhounds, the dogs run the same course with adjustments in the expected time and jump height.
The classes are divided by jump heights in order to make the competition equal between the different sizes of dogs.
The Masters Agility Championship At Westminster
Agility dogs can achieve many titles. Our competition is open to those dogs that have achieved the higher titles and are therefore eligible to compete on a “Masters” level course. There will be 330 dogs entered in this competition.
Each dog will compete in two qualifying rounds consisting of a Standard Agility course and a Jumpers with Weaves course. The 12 dogs with the highest combined scores from each height class will move on to the “Championship Round” consisting of a total of 60 dogs. The Westminster Kennel Club donates $10,000 to honor the winner of the Masters Agility Championship. The donation will be given to the AKC training club where the winner is a member. If they are not a member of an AKC training club then the donation will go to the AKC Humane Fund.
All breeds are involved in agility as they offer 5 jump heights. The most popular breeds at this time are Shetland Sheepdogs, Belgian Tervurens, Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels and Papillons. All-American breeds (mixed breeds) are also eligible to compete. Dog agility is practiced as a sporting activity that demonstrates a handler and trainer’s skill in working with a dog on an obstacle course. The breed of dog may pose certain challenges in training and handling, but a competitor is not restricted as to type of dog. Therefore, dog agility is a sport for all dogs.