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Oral and Individual Examination Guide

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The preparation of this CDJA guide to the conduct of oral exams in breeds approved by the CKC was inspired by a similar guide published by the American Kennel Club.

The proficient judge alters his or her examination technique from breed to breed based on the priorities defined by the breed standards. To do so requires interpretation of the standard’s attempt to convey to the judge. Close inspection of a breed’s standard will determine the appropriate oral exam to conduct when judging that breed, which is an essential component of the breed-specific exam.

American Kennel Club – Conducting Oral Exams

Oral Exams

Oral exams can be generally divided into four (4) categories which individually or in combination will constitute the correct oral exam for a breed.

Front: checking the front
Side: checking the front and sides
Open: involves opening the mouth to count teeth or check pigment. Always used in combination with a “bite” or “teeth” exam, depending on the breed
Thumb: Thumb exam is used for smaller, short muzzled breeds that call for an undershot jaw


This exam is proper when the standard only refers to the alignment of the bite (scissors, level, undershot or overshot) as a preference, fault or disqualification. This procedure also complies with the examination procedure required by the CKC in those cases where a standard does not mention teeth or mouth (e.g. Irish Wolfhound) or where the standard includes language that references all teeth in a general way (e.g. Teeth – white, sound and strong or even and set)

This requires the judge to separate the front of the lips to display the meshing of the incisors and canines or ask the exhibitor to “Show the bite, please.”


This exam is required for any breed whose standard references missing teeth or dentition. This includes any disqualification for missing teeth other than M3s or any reference to full dentition or a full complement of teeth as a preference or fault due to a lack thereof.

This requires the judge to separate the front of the lips to display the meshing of the incisors and canines AND the flews on each side of the mouth, so the judge may observe the pre-molars and molars on the upper and lower jaw for each or ask the exhibitor to “Show the teeth, please”.


Required for any breed that includes a standard disqualification (DQ) for pigmentation or missing teeth that requires checking the M3s. Opening the mouth is not required if the M3s are excluded from the disqualification by the standard (e.g. Leonbergers). It is used in combination with the bite and/or teeth exam depending on the language of the standard.

Breed standards that include a DQ for pigmentation of the mouth but do not reference missing teeth or full dentition would require examining the “bite” and then opening the mouth to check for the pigment of the mouth and/or tongue. An example would be the Chinese Shar-Pei, whose standard calls for a scissors bite but also states that the tongue, roof of mouth, gums and flews should be solid bluish-black except in dilute colours which have solid lavender pigmentation. Breeds for which the standard includes a DQ for missing teeth will require that the front and sides be displayed and may include opening the mouth so the judge can effectively observe the molars.


Involves the judge running the flat of his or her thumb outside of the top lip OR inside the lips of the dog to feel for the proper alignment of the jaw. This procedure is appropriate in smaller, undershot breeds with short muzzles. This is the preferred means to conduct the oral exam for these breeds, as it is not necessary to open the mouth. It is recommended that the thumb exam be conducted at the end of the individual examination. Examples of where this procedure may be used would be the English Toy Spaniel, Pug, and Pekingese

Please keep in mind that Conformation Show Rule 4.4.1 calls for dentition to be displayed by the exhibitor but allows the judge to proceed if the dentition is not automatically displayed by the exhibitor. In practice, the exhibitor should be asked to “show the bite” or “show the teeth” depending on the requirements of the breed standard. The exhibitor may additionally be asked to “open the mouth” when necessary to complete the oral exam. In breeds where this is appropriate, the judge will personally conduct a thumb exam.

Conducting Individual Exams

The preparation of this CDJA guide to the conduct of examinations in breeds approved by the CKC was inspired by a similar guide published by the American Kennel Club

“The appropriate place to individually examine dogs during breed judging.”

Table Breeds (T) Designated table breeds must be examined on an examination table. When re-examining them, they must be placed back on the table. No other breeds may be examined or otherwise considered during judging on an examination table. This does not apply to breeds that are eligible or required to be judged on the ramp during breed judging, when judging these breeds in the Group and/or Best in Show.
Ramp Breeds (R) Designated ramp breeds must be examined on a ramp during breed, group and Best in Show judging.
Ramp Optional (RO) Breeds designated as Ramp Optional may either be judged on the ramp or on the ground.
All Other Breeds (G) Breeds not designated as either table or ramp breeds may only be examined on the ground.

Group One – Sporting Dogs

Breed Oral Exam Exam Disqualifications
Braque Français (Gascogne)FrontGround
Braque Français (Pyrenees)FrontGround
Griffon (Wire-Haired Pointing)Front/SideGroundDQ
Logotto RomagnoloFrontGroundDQ
Pointer (German Long-Haired)FrontGround
Pointer (German Short-Haired)Front/SideGround
Pointer (German Wire-Haired)FrontGround
Retriever (Chesapeake Bay)FrontGroundDQ
Retriever (Curly-Coated)FrontGround
Retriever (Flat-Coated)FrontGround
Retriever (Golden)Front/SideGroundDQ
Retriever (Labrador)FrontGround
Retriever (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling)Front/SideGroundDQ
Setter (English)Front/SideGround
Setter (Gordon)FrontGround
Setter (Irish)FrontGround
Setter (Irish Red & White)FrontGround
Spaniel (American Cocker)FrontTable
Spaniel (American Water)FrontGround
Spaniel (Blue Picardy)FrontGround
Spaniel (Brittany)FrontGround
Spaniel (Clumber)FrontRamp Optional
Spaniel (English Cocker)FrontTable
Spaniel (English Springer)FrontRamp Optional
Spaniel (Field)FrontGround
Spaniel (French)FrontGroundDQ
Spaniel (Irish Water)FrontGround
Spaniel (Sussex)FrontRamp Optional
Spaniel (Welsh Springer)FrontGround
Spinone ItalianoFrontGroundDQ
Vizsla (Smooth)FrontGround
Vizsla (Wire-Haired)FrontGroundDQ
Braque d’AuvergneFront/Side/OpenGroundDQ
Kleiner MünsterlӓnderFront/SideGroundDQ

Group Two – Hounds

Breed Oral Exam Exam Disqualifications
Barbet Front Ground DQ
Afghan Hound Front Ground  
Basenji Front Table  
Basset Hound Front Ramp  
Beagle Front Table  
Bloodhound Front Ground  
Borzoi Front/Side Ground  
Coonhound (Black & Tan) Front Ground  
Dachshunds (All) Front Table  
Deerhound (Scottish) Front Ground  
Drever Front Table  
Finnish Spitz Front/Side Ground  
Foxhound (American) Front Ground  
Foxhound (English) Front Ground DQ
Greyhound Front Ground  
Harrier Front Ground  
Ibizan Hound Front/Side Ground  
Irish Wolfhound Front Ground  
Norrbottenspets Front Ground  
Norwegian Elkhound Front Ground  
Norwegian Lundehund Front Ground  
Otterhound Front Ground  
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Front Table  
Pharoah Hound Front Ground  
Rhodesian Ridgeback Front Ground  
Saluki Front Ground  
Shikoku Front Ground DQ
Whippet Front Ramp Optional DQ
Azawakh Front/Side Ground DQ
Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen Front Ramp Optional  

Group Three – Working

Breed Oral Exam Exam Disqualifications
Alaskan MalamuteFrontGround
Bernese Mountain DogFront/SideGround
Black Russian TerrierFront/Side/OpenGroundDQ
Canaan DogFront/SideGround
Canadian Eskimo DogFrontGroundDQ
Doberman PinscherFront/Side/OpenGroundDQ
Entelbucher Mountain DogFrontGround
Great DaneFront/SideGround
Great PyreneesFrontGround
Greater Swiss Mountain DogFront/SideGroundDQ
Greenland DogFrontGround
Karelian Bear DogFront/SideGroundDQ
Neapolitan MastiffFront/SideGroundDQ
Portuguese Water DogFrontGroundDQ
Saint BernardFrontGround
Schnauzer (Giant)Front/SideGroundDQ
Schnauzer (Standard)Front/SideGround
Siberian HuskyFront/SideGround
Tibetian MastiffFrontGroundDQ
Anotalian ShepherdFront/SideGround
Cane CorsoFrontGroundDQ
Dogue De BordeauxFrontGroundDQ
Yukutian LaikaFront/SideGroundDQ

Group Four – Terriers

Breed Oral Exam Exam Disqualifications
Airedale TerrierFrontGround
American Staffordshire TerrierFrontRamp Optional
Australian TerrierFrontTable
Bedlington TerrierFront/SideTable
Border TerrierFrontTable
Bull TerrierFront/SideGround
Bull Terrier (Miniature)Front/SideTable/Ramp Optional
Cairn TerrierFrontTable
Cesky TerrierFront/SideTable
Dandie Dinmont TerrierFrontTable
Fox Terrier (Smooth)FrontTableDQ
Fox Terrier (Wire)FrontTable
Glen of Imaal TerrierFrontTable
Irish TerrierFrontTable/Ramp OptionalDQ
Kerry Blue TerrierFrontRamp Optional
Lakeland TerrierFrontTableDQ
Manchester TerrierFrontTable
Norfolk TerrierFrontTable
Norwich TerrierFrontTable
Rat TerrierFrontTable
Schnauzer (Miniature)FrontTable
Scottish TerrierFrontTable
Sealyham TerrierFrontTable
Skye TerrierFrontTable
Soft-Coated Wheaten TerrierFrontRamp Optional
Staffordshire Bull TerrierFrontRamp Optional
Welsh TerrierFrontTableDQ
West Highland White TerrierFront/SideTable
Parson Russell TerrierFrontTable
Russell TerrierFrontTableDQ

Group Five – Toys

Breed Oral Exam Exam Disqualifications
American Eskimo Dog (Toy)Front/SideTable
Cavalier King Charles SpanielFrontTable
Chihuahua (Long & Short Coat)FrontTable
Chinese Crested Dog – Hairless
English Toy SpanielThumbTable
Griffon (Brussels)ThumbTableDQ
Italian GreyhoundFront/SideTable
Japanese ChinFront/SideTable
Miniature PinscherFrontTable
Poodle (Toy)Front/SideTable
Silky TerrierFrontTable
Toy Fox TerrierFrontTableDQ
Toy Manchester TerrierFrontTable
Xoloitzcuintli (Toy) Hairless
Yorkshire TerrierFrontTable
Biewer TerrierFrontTable
Coton de TulearFront/SideTableDQ
Russkiy ToyFrontTableDQ

Group Six – Non-Sporting

Breed Oral Exam Exam Disqualifications
American Eskimo Dog (Miniature & Standard)Front/SideTable
Bichon FriseFront/SideTable
Boston TerrierFrontTable
Chinese Shar-PeiFront/OpenRampDQ
Chow ChowFront/OpenRampDQ
French BulldogFrontTableDQ
German PinscherFrontGround
Japanese SpitzFrontTable
KeeshondFrontRamp Optional
Lhasa ApsoFront/SideTable
Poodle (Miniature)Front/SideTable
Poodle (Standard)Front/SideGround
Shiba InuFront/Side/OpenTableDQ
Shih TzuFrontTableDQ
Tibetan SpanielFrontTable
Tibetan TerrierFrontTable
Xoloitzcuintli (Miniature) Hairless
Xoloitzcuintli (Standard) Hairless
Akita (Japanese)Front/SideGround

Group Seven – Herding

Breed Oral Exam Exam Disqualifications
Australian Cattle DogFrontGroundDQ
Australian KelpieFrontGround
Australian ShepherdFront/SideGroundDQ
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle DogFrontGround
Bearder CollieFront/SideGround
Belgian Shepherd DogFront/SideGround
Berger PicardFront/Side/OpenGroundDQ
Berger des PyreneesFront/SideTableDQ
Bouvier des FlandresFrontGround
Collie (Rough & Smooth)FrontGround
Finnish LapphundFrontGroundDQ
German Shepherd DogFront/SideGround
Iceland SheepdogFront/SideGround
Norwegian BuhundFrontGround
Old English SheepdogFrontGround
Polish Lowland SheepdogFrontRamp Optional
Portuguese SheepdogFrontGroundDQ
Shetland SheepdogFront/SideTable
Spanish Water DogFrontGroundDQ
Swedish VallhundFrontTable
Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)FrontTable
Welsh Corgi (Pembroke)FrontTable
Appenzeller SennenhundFront/SideGroundDQ
Bergamasco Shepherd DogFront/SideGroundDQ
Border CollieFrontGround
Miniature American ShepherdFront/SideTableDQ
Tatra SheepdogFront/Side/OpenGroundDQ