Specialties are shows given by breed clubs, for that breed only. There are different types of Specialties, from a "regular" Specialty show to once-yearly Regional and National Specialties.
Regular Specialty shows are given by individual member clubs of the National Breed Club (for example, the Boxer Club of Louisiana). Often Specialty shows are held in
conjunction with all-breed shows, on the Friday preceding or Monday following (or, as mentioned earlier, sometimes a club will consider the entry at an all-breed show to be their Specialty show).
Along with regular classes that are held at all-breed shows, Specialties may include additional non-regular classes such as Veterans 6-8 years and 8 years+ (divided by sex - this is the only class where neutered or spayed dogs may be shown), Stud Dog (dog with offspring - only the offspring are judged), Brood Bitch (bitch with offspring - only the offspring are judged), and occasionally Brace (two Boxers who are similar in appearance, movement, size, and are shown together). The winners of the Veterans classes are eligible to compete for Best of Breed.
Specialties also usually include Sweepstakes, which are special competitions for 6 to 18 month old puppies and young adults. Sweepstakes are typically divided into 6-9 month puppy, 9-12 month puppy, and 12-18 month junior. Winners of the classes compete for Best in Sweepstakes. There are no points awarded for Sweepstakes wins, but usually a portion of the entry fees are divided among the winners and dogs that place in the classes.
Often Specialties will include Obedience and Agility competition, depending on the club and the location.
The Regional Specialty is a scaled-down version of a National Specialty, hosted by a local club. The Regional is held in different regions of the country each year (hence the name, Regional). The Boxer Regional is a four-day event, with Specialty shows for different clubs held each day. (For example, the Boxer Club of Louisiana Specialty Show on Friday, the Mississippi Boxer Club on Saturday, and so forth.)
The National Specialty is the biggest and most prestigious show of the year. The ABC National Specialty typically draws entries of over 600 Boxers from across the country, and visitors from around the world. The National Specialty includes regular classes, Veterans, Stud Dog, Brood Bitch, Obedience and Agility. At the National, just "making the cut" (being considered for a class placement) is an honor, and a class placement is a thrill. (Taking Winners Dog or Bitch, or the Breed, is of course the ultimate!) There is no Sweepstakes at the National, instead there is a Futurity (which I will get to momentarily).
The National also includes the prestigious Top Twenty competition. Dogs are entered in the Top Twenty by invitation only, based on the points they accumulate the previous year (points are based on the number of dogs defeated in Best of Breed wins only - Group and Best in Show wins are not counted). The Top Twenty is a formal affair, with handlers and spectators in tuxedos and evening gowns. Often dogs that have won the Top Twenty in the past are eligible for the Top Twenty again - these dogs are included in the Top Twenty as exhibition only.
Judges for the Top Twenty are kept a secret until the night of the competition. There are three judges - a AKC-licensed judge eligible to judge Boxers and at least four other breeds in any Group, a breeder or breeder-judge, and a handler. Judges are selected by the Top Twenty Committee. Dogs are scored individually by each judge, using a scale of points from the standard. Judges also give an Average Placement (on a scale of 1-10) to use in the event of a tie in scores. Only one dog is in the ring for judging during the Top Twenty. Score sheets are handing to an impartial tabulation committee, and the winner is announced at the end of the evening. Score sheets are made available to spectators after the winner is announced.
Another big attraction at the National is the Futurity Stakes. The Futurity is truly a breeders' showcase. Like a Sweepstakes, the Futurity is for puppies and young adults from 6-18 months of age. However, puppies must be nominated before they are even born to be eligible to compete (in other words, the "future" puppies are nominated), and the breeder must be a member of the American Boxer Club or a member club. The bitch is nominated any time between her breeding and due dates, during the six month periods preceding and following the date of the National Specialties. Nominations must be postmarked before the date the puppies are whelped. This will nominate the entire litter. Once the puppies are born, a second nomination must be sent and received on or before the date the puppy reaches four months of age. This will nominate individual puppies from the nominated litter. Dogs must be six months of age and under 18 months of age on the first day of the National to be eligible to compete in the Futurity. There are no points given in the Futurity, but again a portion of the nomination and entry fees are awarded.
The Futurity is further divided into Puppy and Junior. The Puppy Futurity includes classes for 6-9 months puppy and 9-12 months puppy (divided by sex and color). The class winners of 6-9 months classes compete for Best 6-9 Months Puppy and Reserve 6-9 Months Puppy, the class winners of the 9-12 months classes compete for Best 9-12 Months Puppy and Reserve 9-12 Months Puppy. The Best 6-9 Months Puppy and the Best 9-12 Months Puppy compete for First Prize Futurity Winner Puppy. The Junior Futurity includes classes for 12-15 months junior and 15-18 months junior (divided by sex and color). Winners are chosen as above to determine First Prize Futurity Winner Junior. First Prize Futurity Winner Puppy and First Prize Futurity Winner Junior compete for Grand Prize Futurity Winner.