The Westminster Kennel Club took great pride in featuring the dog chosen for their logo and representing the club. The dog’s name was Sensation and he was a Pointer.
It all began in the latter half of the 1800s. At that time, New York City had grown to be the second largest city in the world with 3.5 million people.
The Westminster Hotel (which no longer exists) in Manhattan was a favorite gathering place for high society. A group of wealthy sportsmen met regularly in the hotel’s bar for drinks and exchanging stories of their dogs hunting prowess.
In 1876 these men decided to form a club and look for a place where they could kennel and train their dogs. They chose “Westminster” as their club’s name and purchased land for their new venture as well as hiring a trainer. They then searched for breeding stock for the club which they mainly established as a shooting club.
One of the members, George DeForest Grant, was given the task of finding a Pointer to use at stud. He sailed to England to find the perfect dog. The dog he chose later had great influence on the American Pointer breeders and was to become the official mascot of the Westminster Dog Show.
Grant found a dog named Don,a handsome lemon and white Pointer, born in 1874 who had an impressive list of show wins in England. He then sent a photo and list of accomplishments to the club members in New York who were very impressed with the look of the Pointer and the records. They decided to change his name to Sensation and he was shipped to America where he was registered with the National American Kennel Club, later known as the American Kennel Club.
Sensation fulfilled the club’s dreams and continued his championship ways in dog shows and field trials. His performances lasted 4 years as his main purpose was to stand at stud. Many breeders were interested in using Sensation at stud because of his striking body and what was considered the best head of any Pointer that ever lived.
Except for the years between 1896 and 1903, the head or full body of Sensation was used as the logo for the Westminster Kennel Club. In 1983 and since, the full body of Sensation at point has been used.
Sensation died in 1887 at the age of 13. He was buried beside a flagpole in front of the Westminster clubhouse in Babylon, New York. On top of the flagpole was a weathervane with a picture of a Pointer always turned into the wind. The clubhouse was later relocated and the site of Sensation’s grave is known only in the general area through old maps and photos.
Wealthy men chose Pointers and Setters as their favorite breeds. They saw Sensation as the perfect dog and adopted his image for the logo, saving his legacy.