Choosing which classes to enter a Syrian hamster into for the main show can be confusing; there are so many different fur types, colours and combinations! When you’re looking at the show schedule, how do you know which classes to pick? Asking yourself a series of questions can make it a little easier.
The show schedule can be found on the National Hamster Council website in the month before the show date. Different Clubs have different classes so it’s a good idea to check the schedule to see which classes are available. This is an example of a schedule from a Midland Hamster Club show:
1 – Is your hamster a standard colour?
The first thing to look at is whether your hamster is a standard colour/pattern or not. The show standards are detailed in the NHC handbook. These are colours/patterns which have been defined and agreed by the Standards Committee and therefore have a written ‘ideal’ description which judges use to assess entered hamsters.
If your hamster is not a standard colour then s/he will need to be entered into the Non-Standard class. Hamsters in this class do not get marks for their colour/pattern (as there is no agreed definition, or standard, to judge them against) but are marked on the other elements of fur, type, size, condition, and eyes and ears.
It is important to be aware that non-standard hamsters should have a colour/pattern that is listed as a recognised mutation in Appendix C of the NHC handbook. Colours/patterns which are not listed there, for example polywhite or blue/dilute, cannot be entered in the main show.
2 – Is your hamster rex?
Fur type trumps colour and pattern when choosing a main class, and rex trumps satin. All rex Syrians enter the rex class, whether they are patterned, satin, short haired, long haired, cinnamon, cream or black. Don’t forget that long haired hamsters have different substrate in their show pens than short haired ones, even if they are entered in the rex class.
For example, a long haired satin black tortoiseshell banded rex would be entered into the rex class.
3 – Is your hamster short haired or long haired?
Apart from Non-Standard and Rex, all the other Syrian hamster classes are split by fur length. If you’ve got to this question then you’ve already answered no to the first two questions so you need to look at fur length. If your hamster is short haired then only look at the short hair classes (numbers 1-6 in the example above); if your hamster is long haired then only look at the long haired classes (numbers 7-12 in the example).
4 – Is your hamster satin?
Fur type trumps pattern and colour, so a satin hamster is entered in the satin class, not one of the colour or pattern classes. In the example above the satin classes are divided by fur length with a long haired satin class and a short haired satin class. Don’t forget that you can only enter a hamster into one straight class; if your hamster is in satin class, s/he can’t also be entered into the colour class too.
For example, a short haired satin black-eyed cream would be entered into the short haired satin class only, and not the short haired cream class.
5 – Is your hamster patterned?
Pattern trumps colour, so a patterned hamster is entered into the patterned class, not one of the colour classes. Standard patterns are banded, dominant spot, roan, recessive dappled and tortoiseshell.
For example, a short haired golden dominant spot would be entered into the short haired patterned class, and not the short haired golden class.
6 – What colour is your hamster?
If you haven’t found a class to enter yet, you’ve answered no to your hamster being rex, satin or patterned (including tortoiseshell), and your hamster is a standard colour. You’ve already crossed off several classes on the schedule and have a much smaller list to choose from (you’ve excluded classes 5, 6, 11, 12, 13 and 23 from the example above).
If your hamster is short haired you have only classes 1-4 now to choose from:
- Is your short haired hamster golden or cream? If you’ve answered yes then enter your golden hamster into class 1 or your cream hamster into class 2. Cream class includes both black-eyed and red-eyed creams. Northern Hamster Club shows also has separate classes for yellow and cinnamon short haired hamsters so it’s important to check the schedule for the particular show you are entering.
- If you’ve answered no to all the specific colour classes, then your hamster should be entered into the short haired AOC (any other colour) classes, class 3 for males and class 4 for females. This is for any other standard colour that doesn’t have a separate class. The colours that go into short haired AOC are different at different Club shows as the specific colour classes are different.
If your hamster is long haired you have only classes 7-10 to choose from:
- Is your long haired hamster cream? If you answer yes then enter your red-eyed or black-eyed cream hamster into the long haired cream class (number 7 in the example above).
- Is your hamster self coloured or agouti? If you’re not sure, the standards in the NHC handbook are handily divided into self and agouti. If your hamster is self then enter him/her into class 8, the long haired self class. Northern Hamster Club does not have a long haired self class so self hamsters would be entered the AOC classes.
- If your hamster is neither cream nor self (in the example above), then s/he goes into the long haired AOC classes, which are divided into male AOC hamsters and female AOC hamsters. As with the short haired AOC classes, the colours that go into long haired AOC are different at different Club shows as the specific colour classes are different.
Once you’ve chosen the straight class your hamster can enter (and remember that one hamster can only enter one straight class), then you can choose the duplicate classes. Hamsters must be entered into a straight class in order to enter a duplicate class. For example, a short haired golden hamster cannot just be entered into Novice; s/he would also need to be in the short haired golden class. Hamsters entered into the Non-Standard class cannot enter duplicate classes.
The duplicate classes are easier to choose as they all have an explanation next to them. Do read the explanations carefully as the definitions of some classes can differ between clubs, for example Intermediate may be an exhibitor in their first year of exhibiting or an exhibitor in their first year of club membership depending on the club running the show. The Members Points Class at Southern Hamster Club shows is open to full/associate members of SHC only.
Now you’ve chosen which straight and duplicate classes to enter your Syrian hamster in, you’re ready to contact the show secretary. Details can be found on the show schedule for the show you wish to attend.
I’ve done a blog post on being a show secretary that you can find here, which describes how you can lay out your entry email.
I wish you the best of luck with your entries and hope you enjoy your shows. Please remember that, regardless of scores or placings, you always take the best hamsters home!