To date, shining among the multitudes of dog shows is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show that attracts thousands of dog breeders under its “pure breed” banners. To win this competition is a dream for every aspiring dog breeder, but even if you fail to bag the first prize, the odds that your dog makes a favorable impression and that you meet new, interesting, like-minded people is extremely high.
It’s all about the dog shows
- Let’s talk about the glorious history of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which was first held on May 8, 1877, making it the second-most famous sports event in the entire history of the U.S.
This unexpected popularity made the show-runners extend the show beyond three days
Initially, the Westminster Kennel Club was founded by the owners of hunting dogs, which were the first to participate in the dog shows. The goal of the show was to reveal the best hunting dog there is as well as to embellish upon the practical skills and qualities of the hunting dog.
The first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show took place in May 1877 in Madison Square Garden with around 1,200 dog owners in attendance. This unexpected popularity made the show-runners extend the show beyond three days.
From the first day the show originated, and only with few rare exceptions, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show would be held in Madison Square Garden. As Westminster Kennel Club owners put it, “We have survived three overhauls of Madison Square Garden, various power-outs, hurricanes, the Great Depression, two World Wars, and ferrymen riots.” From 1888, dog shows would be held in February.
Trademark logos, rules and regulations
The Westminster Kennel Club’s logo shows an English Pointer, Sensation, who was brought to the U.S. all the way from England (English champion, 1875). Sensation was promptly registered under number 1261. However, his dog show career was short-lived, as he was brought in to the U.S. for breeding. Among several photos of the magnificent Sensation, we chose one that became the Westminster Kennel Club’s logo.
The Code Book, developed by the Westminster Kennel Club regulates the appearance and ideal properties of a dog. The Code Book is heavily relied upon whenever it is required to identify if the dog meets any particular criteria. Rules and regulations encompass such preconditions as whether or not the dog meets the breed criteria and external properties such as the sizing, color, shape of eyes, ears, coat length, etc.
Current state of affairs
- These days, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is one of the largest pure breed dog shows held two days each February. Dogs, belonging to the same dog breed, compete with each other, and each winner moves up a position in its own group. Group winners make it to the finals, where the “Best in Show” is identified.
This dog show captures the attention of thousands of TV viewers world-wide. Since 1948, it has been shown live by major U.S. broadcast networks. It proves to be challenging to get tickets for this event, as they are sold-out well in advance. This event gets live streamed in over 20 countries worldwide. Aside from that, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show’s official website gets over 12 million hits daily!
The dog winner becomes one of the main media sensations in the U.S. and wakes up famous the very next day. TV news, talk shows, interviews with the dog owner; it’s no wonder its lucky owner hits the spotlight what with all those breeders trying to get to the the dog winner!
Qualification requirements and General information
Since 1884, the American Kennel Club makes it mandatory for all participants to get officially registered. To date, over 185 dog breeds are qualified for participation with new dog breeds being added on a regular basis.
Beginning in 1992, only an all-American champion may participate in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The five best dogs in each breed that have earned the most points in the dog shows, organized by the AKC, may get an official invitation. The AKC develops top-lists that include the best dog-breeds in each category (the so-called Best of Breed (BOB) requirement) and the best dog-breeds with the most points for participation.
The number of participants allowed is 2,500 dogs, and don’t forget that the selection process is more of a lottery!
Other dog champions get invitations in a routine manner. The application deadline is November 16 – December 9 (15:00 P.M.). Send your application by post; envelopes are collected starting from 8 A.M. and up to 15:00 P.M., December 9. The number of participants allowed is 2,500 dogs, and don’t forget that the selection process is more of a lottery! Once you get the bench-number for your precious dog at the end of December, only then can you sigh with relief.
Dog shows are planned two years in advance and so is the composition of the jury. Westminster dog shows have so-called bench-areas designated for dog breeds and their owners. Dogs are to be present at the show from the early morning when the doors open and up to 20:30. It’s advisable that you follow this rule.
You can bring your pets to Madison Square Garden three days before the doors open. This can be explained away by the fact that participants flock over from remote corners of the U.S. Besides, it takes some time to organize bench-areas.
Dogs that participate in the show are grouped into seven categories:
1. Sporting dogs
3. Working dogs
5. Decorative dogs
6. Non-sporting dogs
7. Shepherd dogs (branched off from the Working dogs group in 1983)
What you get from participation in the dog show
It’s hard to underestimate the benefits of participation. By making it to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, your dog automatically becomes one of the all-American top dogs. Rest assured that professional dog-breeders are likely to note this. Making friends with other dog-breeders is another valuable asset to help you out in the future. Proposals for cross-breeding are yet another aspect that should be viewed as a fringe benefit.
Should you emerge victorious in the dog show, you bag both the money prize and the attention of millions of viewers. Isn’t this the dream and one of the most important events for any aspiring dog breeder?