So I’ve been doing my preparations for the start of Southern Hamster Club’s show season and it’s all very well getting things like show pens ready but it would be rather silly to do so without actually remembering to send off entries to the Show Secretary before the deadline and so I thought, as I was doing my entry for the show on Saturday I’d write a little bit for those who are new to showing on the things you need to know when entering the show. Now there’s a great blog post on Vectis Hamstery’s blog about how to write the perfect email to enter and it would be silly to re-write that as she’s done a great job so I thought I’d explain about the classes which is something that bewildered me slightly when I entered my first show.

This is an explanation of the classes used in the Southern and Midland Hamster Clubs. It varies slightly with Northern shows.

Straight Classes: This refers to your hamster’s species, colour and coat type and when submitting, the coat type takes priority over colour so if you’ve got a satin coated hamster then you will need to enter them in this class rather than in the class for their colour. If you’re not sure on the official name for your hamster’s colouring and coat type then it should be on their pedigree or you can check the colour guides on the club website or you can ask the Show Sec for help (it’s easier to send a photo if you’re not sure on how best to describe their colour). However, if you are thinking of entering a pet shop Russian Hamster, then these are unlikely to be a pure Campbell’s or Winter White and will not be able to be entered in the main show.

Duplicate Classes: These tend to refer more to the type of exhibitor you are rather than the hamster itself and after your hamster has been judged against those of their Straight Class, they will go up against the others from either the Syrian or Dwarf Section who have also been entered in that class. The points that they are allocated when being judged for their straight class will be used to determine placings and the highest pointed hamster entered in each class will win. Sometimes a judge may find that there are two hamsters on the same score and in that incidence, they will look at each hamster again and rank one above the other depending how good of an example of their species they are. The one that the judge determines to be slightly better will receive a plus for that particular class and will be placed higher than the other.

Junior: This is a class for our younger exhibitors and any hamster entered in this class must belong to someone under the age of 16.

Novice: To enter the Novice class you must still be in your first year of membership with an NHC affiliated club. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been showing since you’ve joined or whether you only shown once during that time, it refers to your date of joining rather than the anniversary of your first show. Members showing in this class will not have Prefixes as Members are only eligible to register Prefixes after one year of club membership.

Intermediate: As with the Novice class, this depends on how long you have been a member of the club and is only open to those in their second year of membership. Members who enter this class may have prefixes but this is not compulsory. 

Small Hamstery: This class is only open to members that have 10 or less hamsters in either section however if you have a litter of baby hamsters still with their mother then these don’t count towards this total.

Breeders: Although many exhibitors will breed litters of hamsters from time to time, members may only enter this class with a hamster they have bred themselves.

Young Stock: If you have a young hamster that is between 6-16 weeks old then you can enter them into this class but if you have a Chinese or a Roborovski then you will need to wait until they are 8 weeks old before you can enter them. Sometimes if a judge is suspicious about a hamster’s eligibility into this class then they will ask the Show Secretary to confirm with the exhibitor as to the hamster’s age.

Members Points Class/Free Membership Class: This class tends to be entered by regular exhibitors as the points obtained for each placing in this class will count towards an annual award which is decided by each club. Hamsters that do not place in this class will not receive any points. If you don’t go to all the shows but don’t mind the additional 5p entry fee, then you may still decide to enter because after all, you never know. 

Grand Challenge: If there’s one duplicate class that all exhibitors should consider entering then it’s this one because without it, your hamster will not be eligible to receive a Certificate of Merit and Certificates of Merit can later lead to your hamster being crowned a Champion.

Diploma: This special class is only offered when the judge for that section is a National Hamster Council judge (as opposed to a club judge) and winners of this class will be given a special NHC Diploma Certificate. No rosettes or trophies are awarded for this class.

Special Class – Non Standard: If your hamster is a recognised breed but no colour standard exists for them then they may be entered into this class. Hamsters entered into this category are not eligible for entry to any duplicate classes and are usually judged at the end of the day after the duplicates have been determined.