The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is America’s second-longest continuously held sporting event, behind only the Kentucky Derby. The first show was held in 1877, with a portion of the proceeds going to the ASPCA to establish a home for stray and disabled animals. It was conceived as a show primarily for gun dogs by a group of hunters. The first show was wildly popular and was extended from three days to four.
The Westminster Dog Show judges dogs against their breed standards. Despite the fact that most purebreds function as companion dogs today, the judges look for dogs which have the innate ability and physical makeup to perform the jobs they were originally bred for.
Since 1884, all competing dogs are required to be registered with the American Kennel Club. They must belong to one of the 179 dog breeds recognized by the AKC. For the 2011 show, six new breeds have been recognized: Boykin Spaniel, Bluetick Coonhound, Redbone Coonhound, Cane Corso, Leonberger, and Icelandic Sheepdog. Since 1992, the AKC has limited entries by requiring that dogs must have already earned their breed Championship before appearing at Westminster.
Besides the individual competitions for each breed, the show also awards “Best in Show” to one lucky dog. This dog receives the title “America’s Dog” and embarks on a media tour the day after the show. Terriers are the most common winners of Best in Show, having won the title 45 out of 103 times. The oldest dog to win Best in Show was a Sussex Spaniel named at 10 years of age in 2009. The youngest dog to win was a 9 months old Rough Collie in 1929.
And the winner of Best in Show for 2011 is Hickory (GCH Goxcliffe Hickory Wind), a Scottish Deerhound.
Winners in their individual groups are:
Sporting Group – Cocker Spaniel GCH Casablanca’s Thrilling Seduction
Working Group – Portuguese Water Dog GCH Aviators Luck Be a Lady
Terrier Group – Smooth Fox Terrier GCH Slyfox Sneaks a Peek
Herding Group – Bearded Collie GCH Tolkien Raintree Mister Baggins
Non-Sporting Group – Chinese Shar-Pei GCH Vaje’s Miss Jane Hathaway
Toy Group – Pekingese GCH Palacegarden Malachy
Hound Group – Scottish Deerhound GCH Foxcliffe Hickory Wind
The initials GCH stand for Grand Champion.
2011 Show Information
Monday and Tuesday, February 14-15, 2011
Madison Square Garden
Seventh to Eighth Avenues and 31st to 33rd Streets
New York, New York
Entry limited to 2,500 dogs
Individual breed judging will take place each day between the hours of 8:00AM and 6PM.
All Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding breeds and varieties will be judged on Monday, with Groups judged on Monday evening.
All Sporting, Working, and Terrier breeds and varieties will be judged on Tuesday, with Groups judged on Tuesday evening. Best In Show will also be judged on Tuesday evening.
All Junior Showmanship preliminaries will be judged on Monday afternoon, with the finals to be held at 7:30PM on Tuesday evening.
The show can be watched on television and on streaming video online.