The 139th Westminster Dog Show Begins This Weekend

Grand Champion Rocky is ready for WestminsterThe Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is billed as the world’s most famous and prestigious canine event since 1877. In a couple of days, thousands of people will converge on Madison Square Garden in New York City to root for their favorite breed. Millions more will watch the event on television.

Some people may ask themselves what is really going on – what is the judge looking for and why is that dog better than the other one. A lot of people simply favor a particular breed or a very cute dog. Who doesn’t love an adorable Basset Hound or a French Bull Dog? And, of course my first choice, the Chihuahua!

We all just want our favorite dog to win!

At every dog show I have been to, at least one person will ask me to explain what is happening in the ring. I try to explain the ring procedure, but it is not that simple, so I usually try to keep to the basics.

When I first started showing dogs, I read every book I could find to help me understand the language, rules and the various classes of show dogs. I quickly learned that show people have their own language and they only understand each other. Some good books to read if you really want to know more about the show ring are:

and of course, my personal favorite…

I’ll never forget the first few Westminster shows I went to as a spectator. It was some fifteen years ago and I knew very little about show dogs at the time. I just enjoyed watching the pretty dogs. The people around me who were obviously show people were speaking in their own special language and I had no idea what they were talking about.

I learned the language eventually. But it’s really not important, for most of us it’s about the magnificent dogs who represent the best of their breeds. Their movement, their confidence, the fact is they love to be admired, so it’s OK to just enjoy the show and cheer for your favorite dog!

However, for those of you interested in learning more, here is a little info. First of all, the dogs that you see on the television in the evening at Madison Square Garden have already won their breed during the daytime show.

So for the thousands of dogs who competed earlier in the day they will be narrowed down to less than 200 for the group competition. There are seven groups of dogs; Toy, Terrier, Hound, Working, Sporting, Herding and Non- Sporting. There will be one winner for each group.

The group competition is split between the Monday and Tuesday night shows. The Tuesday night broadcast ends with Best in Show. With the seven winners of each group in the ring, only one lucky dog will go home with the big ribbon.

Most of the dogs competing are Grand Champions, in our dog show world all dogs start as class dogs, that is where they first earn points toward their championship. Puppies can be shown at an American Kennel Club show at six months old.

The judge awards points based on how well the dog matches his breed standard which is established by the AKC. To become a champion, a dog must earn 15 points with two major wins, which means the dog must beat a certain number of other dogs to win a major. A grand champion requires 25 additional points with 3 major wins, and he must defeat at least two other champs as well.

The judges must learn the standard for the breed they are judging. They look at the dog’s bite, if it is a male they check to see that the dog is not neutered. The movement of each dog is very important also. A show dog must be well groomed and happy to be in the ring. Of course this is very subjective; what is perfect to one judge may not be perfect to another. So even though you think that Frenchie is the cutest thing you ever saw the judge may still pick the poodle!

If you love dogs, you will enjoy Westminster whether you have a clue or not.

By the way, what is your favorite breed? You know what mine is!

For a great “Show Dogs 101” check out the Westminster link

Westminster Kennel Club 2015 Show Schedule [complete schedule]

Friday, February 13th:
– AKC Meet the Breeds (MTB) Exhibitor/Vendor and WKC Vendor Move-in

Saturday, February 14th:
– 2nd Annual Masters Agility Championship
– Westminster Kennel Club Presents AKC Meet the Breeds brought to you by Purina ProPlan

Sunday, February 15th:
– Main Event Move-in only

Monday, February 16th & Tuesday, February 17th:
– The Westminster Kennel Club 139th Annual Dog Show

For ticket info, go to

A Little History Lesson About The Westminster Dog Show
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