What Do Those Titles Mean

by Jo Ann White

You may see the names of dogs on this web site (or in the pedigree of a puppy you are considering purchasing) with a lot of strange letters before and after their names. Exactly what do all those acronyms mean?

CH (Champion) appears before the dog's name. The most widely recognized AKC title, it indicates that the dog's structure and temperament have been judged in competition and it has been found to be a quality representative of its breed. More about the specific requirements to earn the title champion can be found on this web site in the article All About Dog Shows; dogs competing for the coveted title CH are judged against the breed standard that describes the ideal Shih Tzu.

GCH (Grand Champion) is a new AKC title recognizing additional achievements in conformation competition by dogs that have already earned their championship titles. To become a grand champion, a champion must earn 25 grand championship points in breed; these must include at least three majors (3 to 5 point wins, based upon the number of dogs in competition) under three different judges and at least one point under a fourth judge, plus defeat at least one other champion in at least three shows. Grand championship points may be awarded at the judge's discretion to up to four dogs--the champions winning Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed, plus a Select Dog and Select Bitch. Dogs that have already achieved GCH titles they can qualify for additional achievement levels by earning additional Grand Championship points. These levels are Bronze (100 points); Silver (200 points), Gold (400 points), and Platinum (800 points).

ROM (Register of Merit) is awarded by the ASTC to Shih Tzu owned by ASTC members that have produced 6 champions (for a dog) or 4 champions (for a bitch).

VCCH (Versatile Companion Champion) is a title awarded to a dog that has completed the OTCH, MACH, and CH titles. It precedes the name of the dog.

CGCA (Advanced Canine Good Citizen) for which dogs that are registered or listed with the AKC and already have the CGC title on record are eligible, is the third, newest, and most advanced level of the Canine Good Citizen program. Rather than being tested in the ring, the dog's skills are tested in a natural setting. It must stand, sit, or lie down and wait while the owner is otherwise occupied; walk on a loose leash in a park or other natural setting, through a crowd, and past distractions; sit-stay in a small group; be petted by a person who is carrying something; walk by food when told to "leave it"; down or sit stay at a distance; come when called with distractions present; and remain under control when entering/exiting a doorway or narrow passageway.

CGCU (Urban Canine Good Citizen) is a new AKC title that requires a dog to demonstrate CGC skills and beyond in an urban setting, entering buildings, crossing streets, riding elevators, climbing stairs, and such while demonstrating appropriate reactions amid city distractions. All of these tests are performed on leash.

CGC (Canine Good Citizen) is an AKC certificate awarded to dogs that have passed a 10-step "good manners" test and whose owners have pledged to be responsible dog owners. A CGC dog must accept a friendly stranger, sit politely for petting, welcome being groomed and examined, walk on a loose leash, walk through a crowd, sit down and stay on command, come when called, behave politely around other dogs, be confident when faced with unexpected noises and other distractions, and behave with someone other than its owner. All of these tests are performed on leash.

TDI (Therapy Dog International) indicates that the dog has been tested and registered by Therapy Dogs International as suitable for visiting nursing homes, hospitals, and other institutions. It must pass the CGC test and have its temperament evaluated, including its behavior around people with wheelchairs, crutches, and other medical equipment. Other organizations involved in therapy dog programs are Delta Society and Therapy Dogs.

THD (Therapy Dog) is an AKC title earned by dogs that have been certified by AKC-recognized therapy dog organizations and have performed 50 or more community visits.

AKC Obedience Titles are awarded to dogs that properly perform a series of specified exercises in competition. Precision counts more in obedience than in agility. Except as specified, dogs must receive three qualifying scores under three different judges. The titles must be earned consecutively. In ascending order of difficulty, they are:

Level 1. CD (Companion Dog) is earned in the Novice classes; it requires heeling on and off leash, coming when called, standing for examination, and staying in the sit and down positions with a group of dogs.
Level 2. CDX (Companion Dog Excellent) is earned in the Open classes; it involves more exercises done off leash, plus retrieving and jumping challenges.
Level 3. UD (Utility Dog) adds scent discrimination, directed retrieves, jumping, and silent signal exercises.
Level 4. UDX (Utility Dog Excellent) requires that the dog receive qualifying scores in competition in both the Open and Utility classes at the same show ten times.

BN (Beginner Novice) introduced on July 1, 2010, is an optional titling class for inexperienced dogs; those who successfully perform a mix of rally and obedience exercises on lead in three shows under two different judges can earn the BN title.

OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion) is a title won by very few dogs of any breed. It involves not only earning qualifying scores in competition as the UDX, but placing first with competition in both Open and Utility classes, plus a third first place win in either class, under three different judges. Points towards the OTCH are awarded for the number of dogs defeated; 100 points are required to earn the title. This title goes before the dog's name.

AKC Rally Titles require dog and handler to compete on a course designed by the judge. They proceed at their own pace through 10 to 20 stations, depending on the level. Rally is considered a companion sport to obedience. It is not as rigorous as traditional obedience and unlimited communication between handler and dog is encouraged rather than penalized. The titles, which must be earned consecutively, are in ascending order of difficulty. Each title requires three qualifying scores under at least two different judges.

RN (Rally Novice) all exercises are on leash and there are 10-15 stations.

RI (Rally Intermediate) Rally Advanced course without jump performed on lead; stepping stone to RA but not required to advance to RA.

RA (Rally Advanced) all exercises are performed off leash and the course must include one jump and 12-17 stations.

RE (Rally Excellent) all exercises are off leash. There are 15-20 stations and handlers cannot pat their legs or clap their hands to encourage their dogs, although signals and verbal encouragement are allowed.

RAE (Rally Advanced Excellent) requires qualifying scores in both RA and RE at the same trial ten times. It may be earned more than once by the same dog (RAE2, RAE 3, etc.).

RAM (Rally Advanced Master) title associated with Rally Master Class, which provides additional challenges to dedicated rally exhibitors.

RACH (Rally Advanced Champion) requires 20 triple qualifying scores in RA B, RAE B and RAM classes at 20 separate events, plus 300 RACH points from RAE B and RM classes, at least 200 of which must be from RAM classes.

AKC Agility Titles are, again, in ascending order of difficulty; at each level the number of obstacles the dog must navigate increases. Unlike in obedience, owners are to "cheer on" their dogs as they run the course, which contains certain required elements but still varies from show to show. Speed and good communication between handler and dog are very important. Dogs must receive qualifying scores at three shows under two different judges unless otherwise specified.

The courses for standard AKC agility titles include contact objects such as the dog walk, a-frame, and seesaw that the dog must touch at a certain spot to complete the course successfully. Courses for Jumpers with Weaves include only jumps, tunnels, and weave poles, with no contact objects to slow the pace. Courses for Fifteen and Send Time (FAST) classes include jumps, weaves, tunnels and contact obstacles, each assigned a point value; dogs are required to earn a certain number of points and complete a distance challenge within a specified period of time. In this class, the handler determines the dog's course.

Preferred AKC agility titles involve lower jump heights and more generous course times to allow more dogs and handlers to compete.

The levels are as follows:
Class Standard Jumpers with Weaves FAST
Novice NA (Novice Agility) NAJ (Novice Jumpers with Weaves) NF (Novice FAST)
Novice Preferred NAP (Novice Agility Preferred) NJP (Novice Jumpers Preferred) NFP (Novice FAST Preferred
Open OA (Open Agility) OAJ (Open Agility Jumper) OF (Open FAST)
Open Preferred OAP (Open Agility Preferred) OJP (Open Jumper Preferred) OFP (Open FAST Preferred)
Excellent AX (Agility Excellent) AXJ (Agility Excellent Jumper) XF (Excellent FAST)
Master Excellent MX (Master Excellent Agility) MXJ (Master Excellent Jumper) MXF (Master Excellent FAST)
Master Excellent Preferred MXP (Master Excellent Agility Preferred) MJP (Master Excellent Jumper Preferred) MFP (Master Excellent FAST Preferred)


T2B (Time 2 Beat Regular) and T2B (Time 2 Beat Preferred) are the newest AKC agility titles. It is earned in an additional new class in which the fastest dog in each jump height sets the "time to beat" during the competition. All levels then compete against each other on the same course, built with obstacles from Jumpers with Weaves that may have one or two contacts included. To win the title, a dog must earn 15 qualifying scores and 100 points; it may be earned multiple times.

FAST Century 1 (FTC1) Requires the MXF title plus one-hundred additional Excellent B FAST Class qualifying scores of 60 points or greater. The FTC title initials will be followed by a numeric designation indicating the quantity of times the dog has met the requirements of the FTC title as defined above.

PAX (Preferred Agility Excellent) is the second highest AKC agility title in the preferred program. In order to acquire the Preferred Agility Excellent title, a dog must achieve 20 double qualifying scores obtained from the Preferred Excellent B Standard Agility class and the Preferred Excellent B Jumpers With Weaves class. Qualifying in both the Preferred Excellent B Standard Agility class and the Preferred Excellent B Jumpers With Weaves class on the same day equals one (1) double qualifying score (2Q).

MACH (Master Agility Championship) is the highest-level AKC agility title; it allows those dogs who have already completed their MX and MXJ titles to continue to compete and may be awarded more than once (ie, MACH2, MACH3, etc.). To earn this title, a dog must achieve a minimum of 750 championship points and 20 double qualifying scores obtained from the Excellent B Standard Agility class and the Excellent B Jumpers With Weaves class. One point is earned for each full second the dog runs under the assigned standard course time. If they place first in the class, they shall earn twice the number of points for the run; if they place second in the class, they shall earn 1.5 times the number of points for the run, rounded down to the nearest whole second. This title appears before the dog's name.

PACH (Preferred Agility Champion) is the highest level AKC preferred agility title. It requires a dog to earn a minimum of 750 championship points and 20 double-qualifying scores from the Excellent Standard and Jumpers with Weaves classes; like the MACH, it may be earned more than once.

AGCH (Agility Grand Champion) is awarded to dogs that excel across all AKC agility classes. The following number of qualifying scores must be earned: 100 qualifying scores from Master Standard and 100 qualifying scores from Master Jumpers with Weaves; 75 qualifying scores from Master Fast; 75 qualifying scores from Time 2 Beat; 50 qualifying scores from Premier Standard; 50 qualifying scores from Premier Jumper with Weaves. Qualifying scores will be grandfathered and may be earned from either the Regular or Preferred classes or a combination of these classes.

VCD (Versatile Companion Dog) is awarded at various levels for dogs earning titles in obedience, agility, and tracking. To earn a VCD1 title, the dog must earn the CD, NA, NAJ, and TD titles or a CD, NAP, NJP, and TD. VCD2 is awarded to a dog winning the CDX, OA, OAJ, and TD titles or the CDX, OAP, OJP, and TD. VCD3 is awarded to a dog earning the UD, AX, AXJ, and TDX titles or the UD, AXP, AJP, and TDX. VCD4 is awarded for earning the UDX, MX, MXJ, and VST or the UDX, MXP, MJP, and VST.


TKN (Novice Trick Dog) performs 10 novice tricks or 5 tricks plus CGC (Canine Good Citizen) title.

TKI (Intermediate Trick Dog) earns TKN title and performs 10 intermediate tricks.

TKA (Advanced Trick Dog) earns TKI and performs 5 tricks from advanced trick list.

TKP (Trick Dog Performer) performs short routine that includes at least 10 previously learned tricks