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Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2024: Winners, Criteria, Facts & Safety Tips

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Westminster Kennel Club Show

Held since 1877, Westminster is a prestigious, US-based dog show. Each year, thousands of canine citizens from all over the world join the competition to fight for the title of “America’s Dog”. Primarily, the WKCDS is about purebreds, although mixed-breed pups are also welcome. For many decades, the show had been held at Madison Square Garden.

However, in 2023, Westminster took place at the Arthur Ashe Stadium (on May 6), and Buddy Holly, a PBGV, became this year’s Best-In-Show dog. But just how big was this event? When can you expect the next show to take place?

This year, the Westminster Dog Show will be at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. It will take place May 11-14, 2024. What’s the story behind WKCDS? How do you keep a doggo safe at the Westminster Show? Read on to find out!

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When Did the WKCD Show 2023 Take Place?

The show kicked off on May 6, with the Best-In-Show competition taking place on May 9. Before that, the dogs had two days to prove their worth in the breed and group competitions. The winners in the different groups were picked on Monday and Tuesday (May 8–9). This is interesting: the very first Westminster Dog Show also went down in May (on May 8, 1877, to be exact).

This benched show is always held in New York. MSG is usually the venue of choice for the WKCDS, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the show had to move to a different location (the Jay Gould estate in 2022 and the UTSA Tennis Center/Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens in 2023). The event was broadcast by Fox Sports 1 and was available on FuboTV and Direct TV.

saint bernard dog at the dog show
Image Credit: DmyTo, Shutterstock

Who Won the Competition?

The 147th WKCD show was sponsored by Purina and opened its doors to 2,500 gifted dogs and over 200 breeds. The line-up was, indeed, impressive, and featured many veterans as well as first-timers. The winners are:

Hound Group: Buddy Holly, PBGV
Toy Group: Rummie, Pekingese
Non-Sporting Group: Winston, French Bulldog
Herding Group: Ribbon, Australian Shepherd
Sporting Group: Cider, English Setter
Working Group: Monty, Giant Schnauzer
Terrier Group: Trouble, American Staffordshire
Best-In-Show: Buddy Holly, PBGV

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How Are the Dogs Judged at Westminster?

The requirements for the participants are rather high. The club has very detailed descriptions of how a doggo in a certain breed should act and look. We’re talking about physical traits and the ability to perform various tasks that their ancestors were brought up for. The appearance of the pup matters as well. This includes tail carriage, coat color, shape of the eyes, and more.

Mixed-breed dogs are also allowed to compete, but only in the agility trials. The Westminster Dog Show was admitted to the AKC in 1884, and for a dog to enter the competition, it needs to be recognized by the American Kennel Club (or, rather, its breed). In 1992, it was decided to only accept pups that have already won in breed championships. This rule was canceled several years later, but it’s been reinstated since 2020.

Scottish terrier being presented by the handler at the dog show.
Image Credit: Osetrik, Shutterstock

The Most Successful Breeds At the WKCDS

Earlier, we learned about the winners of the 2023 WKCDS. But what about the all-time champions, the dog groups that took home most Best-In-Show awards? Well, the Terriers are the undisputed champs here. Overall, they managed to win the prize competition 47 times. Compared to the second-best group (Sporting, a total of 18 awards), that’s 160% more wins!

And if we break it down a bit further, we’ll see that Wire Fox Terriers are the most successful breed to ever participate in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Here’s a complete list of all seven groups and their success rate:

Terrier Group: 47 Wins
Sporting Group: 18 Wins
Working Group: 13 Wins
Toy Group: 12 Wins
Non-Sporting Group: 11 Wins
Hound Group: 7 Wins
Herding Group: 5 Wins
Dog Show Handler
Image Credit: monicore, Pixabay

Interesting Facts About the Westminster Dog Show

Want to learn more about the WKCD? Well, here are some cool facts about this great show that you might’ve never heard. Take a look:

  • The name is inspired by a hotel. Westminster is a borough in London; however, it has nothing to do with the WKCDS. Instead, the show takes its roots from a hotel in NYC called Westminster. Back in 1876, hunting enthusiasts would gather at this hotel to talk about their dogs and hunting. Eventually, they decided to put together a show for dogs and held the first event in 1877.
  • WKCD has been around for centuries. If not for the Kentucky Derby, Westminster would’ve been the longest-running dog show in the States. The first event was a big success, with over 1,200 attendees. Today, it’s a huge show that attracts people from all walks of life. WKCD has been available on TV since 1948, which makes it the longest-broadcast live dog show in the US.
  • It’s always been a benched show. During the “active” phase of the Westminster Dog Show, the pups are busy competing. However, during the “calm” moments, they each have an area/bench for waiting. This gives the fans direct access to their favorite canine performers. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, WKCD has turned into an unbenched
  • Westminster spreads awareness. On top of donating to shelters and rescue organizations, this kennel club also promotes lesser-known dog breeds. So, if you’d like nothing more than to check out some “exotic” pups in a nationwide show, you’ll get plenty of that by tuning in to the Westminster Show. Besides, once a not-so-popular breed wins, it instantly gains recognition.
  • The handlers put in a lot of work. First, the dog’s coat has to be in proper shape: otherwise, it will fail the competition. The owners spend hours trying to groom the fur to perfection. This involves the use of expensive, rare care products. Next, the handlers need to have a trusting relationship with the pet and make it feel confident via treats and encouragement.
  • Where do the treats come from? Every dog has its favorite snacks. That’s why handlers always bring the treats with them. The same goes for water (as local water might cause stomach problems). Also, it’s not rare for the handlers to keep the treats in their own mouths to help the pup stay on its feet and keep looking up.
  • Winners don’t get rewards. That’s right: dogs don’t get a single penny from Westminster. The show gets to keep all the earnings from media rights, sponsors, and ads (some of that money goes into donations). And getting a four-legged bud ready for an event like that tends to cost a lot. Breeders, media, and sponsors pay good money for champs, though!
german shepherd dog in dog show
Image Credit: Ksenia Groshova, Shutterstock

Keeping Your Doggo Safe at the WKCD: The Basics

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog (and the world-famous show) was created by folks who genuinely love dogs. That means every single pup gets the attention it deserves, and the managers do everything in their power to make the canine citizens feel at home. That said, as the owner, you should always come prepared and be one step ahead of trouble.

First, make sure you have enough snacks and water for the doggo. If it’s a hot summer day, the pet will need plenty of water to stay hydrated. Next, keep the four-legged bud in the shade, away from scorching sunlight. Packing the dog’s favorite sweater will also be a great idea. Sometimes, it can be chilly in New York in May! Lastly, if the dog seems uncomfortable, you should just take it home.

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Conclusion

Are you the proud owner of a purebred pup? And have you thought about participating in a dog show? Well, you can try your luck at Westminster! Today, we checked out the most successful breeds and winners of this year, plus covered interesting facts about the WKCDS. It’s the most popular event in the United States and welcomes gifted, capable dogs to enter the competition.

The judges are very strict, though: the pooch will need to be literally perfect to have a winning chance. But you don’t necessarily have to compete; instead, why not buy a ticket or enjoy the event on TV? Keep your dog safe, enjoy the performances, and get ready for the next competition!


Featured Image Credit: Westminster Kennel Club Show (Image Credit: Kjunstorm, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

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