The FCI Dog Dancing World Championships

108 entrants to dance for World Championship title

Nobody was expecting this record-breaking number of entries: including the reserve teams, 120 competitors will travel to Leipzig for the FCI Dog Dancing World Championships. A truly exciting competition is expected.

Will the Miniature Schnauzer make the running? Or will it be the Mudi who takes the crown? Then again, it might also be the Rottweiler, the Kooikerhondje, the Papillon or the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. It is not easy to predict who will ultimately win over the judges. They are all skilled, the heelwork specialists and freestyle dancers from all around Europe.

Heelwork? Freestyle? The words describe two very different dog dancing events, each with their own rules for performance and judging. While Heelwork to Music calls for the skilled realisation of prescribed elements such as particular figures or leaps, the creativity and expressive power of dog and handler count for a lot in the Freestyle class. The rules for both disciplines are clearly codified in the “Regulations for FCI International Dog Dancing Competitions” that came into effect on 20 June this year following their adoption by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), the world’s largest cynological organisation. In a sense, dog dancing is rather like figure skating: some figures are prescribed, but others are left up to the competitors.

Participants in the FCI Dog Dancing World Championships will travel to Leipzig from Scandinavia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and a host of countries around Europe. Up to four entrants may start for each nation in each event. All competitors have already qualified at national level. Events will kick off with a training session for all entrants on Wednesday, 8 November. On Thursday, 9 November, the Heelwork to Music competition will commence at 7.30 in Hall 2 and continue up until about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

On Friday, 10 November, the Freestyle competition will be held – also with a 7.30 start, and also finishing up around three o’ clock. Ten entrants in each event will qualify for the final on Saturday.

A panel of three judges will be tasked with identifying the proud finalists: Sonja Scheurer (Germany), Esther Niemejer (Netherlands) and Heather Smith (Great Britain). The experienced dog dancer Carmen Schmid will serve as chief steward.

And as the week draws to a close, the tension will rise a few notches: on Saturday, 11 November, ten finalists will start in each class – with new choreographies. Apart from the individual scoring leading to the award of the world champion, vice-world champion and third-place titles, scores will also be totted up nation by nation. This means that the competition held in Leipzig during the World Dog Show & German Winner Show will also see team awards for a world championship national team, a vice-world champion team, and the team that makes the third spot on the world ranking list. Each judge initially assesses the competitors alone. Then all three judges confer to discuss their results. An awards ceremony will take place on every day of the competition.
The main victory ceremony will take place immediately after the final in the ring of honour in Hall 1.

At the moment, nobody can tell whether an Entlebucher Mountain Dog, a Puli, a Poodle, a Golden Retriever, a Havanese, a Westie or a Jagdterrier will be among the last 20 finalists. And as for the dogs that will carry off the World Championship individual titles – well, that is in the stars. What we do know for sure, however, is that a dizzying array of breeds will perform and that every single competitor will be highly motivated. The competition is sure to be tight – right down to the last second.

The World Dog Show & German Winner Show will see dog lovers, breeders and dog show competitors gather in the halls of Leipzig Trade Fair from 8–12 November. The biggest dog show in the world will take place over 85,000 square metres of space in the halls. The trade fair halls are open to visitors from 9.00–19.00 daily.

Tickets are available online:


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