A collection from America’s dog show.
You could say my memory is “selective”. I can’t always remember my postal code (it starts with an M..) but I can always recall who won Best in Show at Westminster in 1957 (it was Sunny Shay’s Afghan Hound CH Shirkhan of Grandeur). Because The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show began in 1877, it is not surprising that this 143 year old dog show has collected its fair share of interesting facts. As a child, I watched Westminster on television every year with my father and now have been lucky enough to attend for the past four years. Here are some memorable facts about the show I have learned as I have experienced this glamorous show.
• In 1918 and then again in 1999, the profits of the show were donated to the American Red Cross in support of the war effort.
• The conformation show was originally a four day event but became a three day event in 1921 and then a two day event in 1941.
• The coveted purple and gold Best in Show rosette was given out every year since Westminster’s inception with the exception of one year. Best in Show was not awarded in 1923 as the American Kennel Club worked to put standards and regulations in place to ensure uniformity.
• The following year in 1924, Westminster became the first club to conduct Best in Show judging in accordance with the new rules and format installed by the American Kennel Club. Five Group Winners (Sporting, Working, Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting) competed for the final award of Best in Show.
• Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge was the first woman to judge Best in Show at Westminster in 1933. She was a very influential person in the dog world, having written books on English Cocker Spaniels and German Shepherds. She also founded the Morris and Essex Kennel Club and threw an incredible yearly show on her vast property in Madison, New Jersey.
• The heaviest dog to win Best in Show at Westminster did so in 1984. It was CH Seward's Blackbeard, a 155-pound Newfoundland.
• In 1988, the purple and gold rosette went to the smallest dog in Westminster’s Best in Show history. It was CH Great Elms Prince Charming II, a 4.5-pound Pomeranian.
• In 1989 Doberman Pinscher CH Royal Tudor’s Wild As The Win CD was the first and only dog with an obedience title to capture Best in Show at the Garden.
• In 1999 Papillon CH Loteki Supernatural Being becomes the first dog to win Best in Show at both the World Dog Show (in 1998 in Helsinki where he defeated 17, 000 dogs) and Westminster.
• Two dogs have won Best in Show at both Westminster and Crufts. Kerry Blue Terrier, CH Torums Scarf Michael did so in 2003 and Lakeland Terrier, CH Stingray of Derrybabh did so in 1968.
• In 2009, Sussex Spaniel, CH Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee aka Stump was the oldest dog to go Best in Show at the Garden at 10 years of age. His breeder, Doug Johnson, scored another first with this win, being the only person to breed two Westminster winners of different breeds. (The other winner, in 1996, was “Brady,” a Clussexx-bred Clumber Spaniel, which explains the kennel’s portmanteau: Clumber + Sussex = Clussexx.)
• CH Bugaboo's Picture Perfect aka Swagger, an Old English sheepdog, is named Reserve Best in Show, a runner-up award reintroduced for the 2013 show after not having been awarded since 1925.
• Westminster introduced the Masters Agility Championship in 2014. Both purebred and mixed breeds are welcome to compete in this event.
• In 2015, The Westminster announced the addition of The Masters Obedience Championship to the 2016 show. This is the first time an obedience competition is a part of the Westminster Dog Show and, like the agility competition, mixed breed dogs are eligible.
Those are some interesting, historic facts I have learned about the incredible event that is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. I’m sure I will learn more this week. Stay tuned to the Canadian Kennel Club’s social media pages as we will be bringing you the Canadian brags on February 11th and 12th!