The 27th Annual UKC Winter Classic was held in Batesville, MS January 23-25, 2014. There are two nights of hunting and the bench show has grown so large that it is now held over the two days. On Friday, there were 127 dogs entered. This included the dogs in the Top Ten competition, Dual Champions (dogs with both a show and hunt title), pairs (a male and female of same breed shown together), and all of the Registered or open dogs. Saturday consisted of 86 entries which included the Champion and Grand Champion dogs. There was also a Kid’s bench show after the Champion portion. At the conclusion of the show on Saturday, all of the category winners from both Friday and Saturday returned to compete for the title of 2014 Winter Classic Overall Bench Show Winner. Each of these categories are open to the seven UKC recognized coonhound breeds: American Black & Tan, American Leopard Hound, Bluetick Coonhound, English Coonhound, Plott Hound, Redbone Coonhound, and Treeing Walker Coonhound.

Treeing Walker, showing for Top Ten of breed (each win gets the dog points. end of yr top 10 dogs w/ most points compete. Winner of ea breed goes to UKC Premier in Kalamazoo in June)

The Top Ten competition is for dogs that have earned points by showing during the previous year. In most bench shows, a registered dog will get 1 point for each dog that is defeated during the show. The Best of Show Male & Female will get points for defeating all of the other male/female dogs shown (not counting themselves). A Champion dog will get 2 points for every champion defeated. If there was not any competition of other champions, the winner will get only 1 point. In the Grand Champion division, the winning dog gets 4 points for each one defeated. If there is no competition, the dog will only get 2 points.

Bluetick, showing for Dual Champion (dog having both a show and hunt title)

At the end of the year, these points are tallied and thus create the Top Ten winners in each breed. They then compete at Winter Classic with other Top Ten winners of their respective breeds. Each breed winner will then be eligible to go to the UKC Premier in Kalamazoo, MI to compete in the Top Ten show against other hounds that are the all-breed winners. This process has changed for the 2015 Winter Classic Top Ten show. Beginning in 2014, coonhounds can earn top ten points in both the bench shows and in the conformation ring. Those in the conformation ring will compete at Premier. Those in the bench shows will compete at Winter Classic. A Top Ten Bench Show winner will be selected at Winter Classic and will not have to go to Premier to compete, only the dogs with top ten points in conformation will attend Premier.

American Leopard Hound, showing for Pairs class in breed

The Dual Champions class is for dogs that have both a hunting title (NTCH, GRNTCH) and a show title (CH, GRCH). These dogs are shown by breed, regardless of sex, and then each breed winner returns to compete for title of Overall Dual Champion winner. That dog will then return on Saturday for the overall Winter Classic champion competition.

The Pairs competition consists of multiple pairs, male and female, shown together. Judging of pairs depends on the judge. Some judges will consider the pairs that best match each other in structure, gait, color, etc. While others will judge them as a potential breeding pair, if the two dogs were breed what would their pups look like. In that scenario, you are looking to see if the weaknesses in one dog are strengths in the other dog. For example, if one dog is lacking in rear angulation, the other one should have enough angle to compensate for the lack in the first dog. After all of the breed pair winners are selected, each breed pair returns for an Overall Pairs winner.

Bluetick, showing for Pairs class in breed (a non licensed event, male & female of breed show together)

The Registered competition consists of a Puppy class, a Junior class, and a Senior class. The puppy class is for dogs that are 6 months to 1 year of age. The Junior class is for dogs that are at least 1 year to 2 years old, but not over. The Senior class is for dogs over 2 years old. No dogs under 6 months are allowed to enter.

Each breed is shown separately. All of the male puppies compete and then the female puppies. A male and female puppy class winner is selected. This is repeated for the Junior and Senior classes. Each class winner (puppy, Junior, Senior) then competes to be the Male & Female Breed Winner of their breed. After each breed has been judged and a male/female breed winner is selected for each, they return for Best of Show competition. All of the male breed winners compete for Best Male of Show, and then all of the female breed winners compete for Best Female of Show. Both of these dogs will return on Saturday to compete for the overall competition.

This then concludes the Registered show. The ring is cleared and the cast call out for the nite hunt begins shortly afterwards. In the coonhound hunting world, the terminology for hunting at night is called, and spelled, Nite Hunt.

Nite Hunt

On Saturday, the day begins with the Champion competition. The process is very similar to the registered show, except that only one male and one female will be chosen in each breed to earn title of Breed Champion Male/Female. After each breed has been judged, and the male/female breed winners are chosen, they all return for the Overall Champion Male/Female of Show.
The Grand Champion competition is run exactly like the Champion class. One male/female of each breed is chosen for Breed Grand Champion Male/Female and those dogs return for Overall Grand Champion of Show.

There was a Kid’s Bench Show held after the Champion class. This is a chance to get the kids into the sport of dog showing. It gives them a chance to handle a dog, compete with the dog, work the dog and be judged. Any child under 18 that is not entered in the regular show can participate. UKC has small dog statue awards to give to each child. They are asked questions about their dog, such as age, breed, if it hunts, is it a good dog, and sometimes they are asked the different parts of a dog, depending on age of child. The look on the kid’s faces when they “win” their award can be priceless, and sometimes that’s all it takes to get the kids involved.

When the class judging is completed, all of the category winners return to compete for the Overall Winter Classic Bench Show Winner. The competition includes the Dual Champion winner, the Best Male & Female of Show, the male & female Champion winners, and the male & female Grand Champion winners. All of these dogs are shown together, regardless of sex. Each dog there should be the best of its respective classes. At this point, the judge cannot judge them against one another, for they are probably of different breeds. The judge should be looking for the dog that best represents the respective breed and one that is consider a total dog, one that “has it all”.

The Overall Winter Classic winner now has bragging rights for the next year, and then will, hopefully, return to defend the title.

Overall Bench Show Champion: CH ‘PR’ Cypress River Captain, owned and handled by Nathan Boyter of Keithville, Louisiana.

At this type of event, much like the Autumn Oaks, World Show and Grand American events, the quality of hounds entered is usually greater than what may be seen at smaller events. This year was no exception. The quality was outstanding. Many classes were very close in the judging and came down to minor differences and possibly even the judge’s preference.

At this level of competition everyone wants to win, but unfortunately, there can only be one winner per class & category and one person leaves very happy. This year a Plott Male was selected as the Overall Winter Classic winner. This win marks the third year in a row that a Plott has taken home the honor.

After pictures were taken, friends greeted, hugs shared, the arena cleared out. Dogs were loaded up, crates were taken down and the drive home began. The handlers and dogs that were hunting were getting ready for another frigid night in the Deep South. They, too, wanted to crown a champion come Sunday morning. Owners, handlers, and dogs will begin getting ready for the next event on their schedule. So, until next time, keep’em treed and keep’em strutting their stuff.

Photo Gallery:

link to Top Ten list for 2013:
Link to WC Friday show winners:
Link to WC Saturday show winners:

Friday & Saturday Nite Hunt results: