Share on Facebook

14 Behind-the-Scene Secrets from the National Dog Show

There's a lot more going on behind-the-scenes than extensive grooming. Here's what our reporter witnessed with her own two eyes when the cameras weren't rolling.

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

national dog show purina Courtesy Steven Donahue/See Spot Run Photography

Globetrotters

The dog show community is a global one with dogs traveling around the United States and aboard to compete for coveted championship honors. In fact, one of the largest and most prestigious is the Crufts dog show in Birmingham, England, which features 26,000 dogs! At the NDS, I met a Weimaraner named George who was born in France and knows commands in English and French. If you watched this year's NSD, you know that Blaine, a soft-coated Wheaten Terrier from Canada, won in the hound group and the Best in Show winner was Thor, the stocky and handsome Bulldog from Peru. Here are more adorable dog breeds that stay small.

national dog show purina Courtesy Steven Donahue/See Spot Run Photography

Dogs love a good intro song too

One might expect an air of formality and decorum once the dogs enter the Best of Show ring. After all, these dogs represent the crème de la creme of their breed. However, this isn't a hands-in-your lap and closed lips affair. Instead, each breed group enters the arena with the intense enthusiasm akin to NFL players running onto the field, with cheers from the crowd and music pumping, like "Old Town Road," for the herding group and "Hound Dog" for the hound group. They've got swagger and are not shy about strutting their stuff. As AKC-licensed judge Christine Erickson, who judged the hound group, tells Reader's Digest, "These are the confident dogs. The dogs that come out of the box at four weeks old and say I'm a star." Check out the most memorable moments of the NDS straight from dog show hosts.

national dog show purina Courtesy Steven Donahue/See Spot Run Photography

He had a certain "Je ne sais quoi"

How do dog show judges choose a winner when the two dogs are equally matched? Judges are looking for how close the dog conforms to his/her breed standard and of course, showmanship. The AKC breed standard lists an in-depth description of all breeds, including general appearance, and more specific things like the size and shape of head and ears, in addition to coat, gait, and temperament. So what if two dogs ace the standard, what is the tie-breaker? "It could be something that catches my eye, maybe just the condition of the dog, the ears, or movement," says Erickson. You could say it's the "Je ne sais quoi" that one dog has over the other. Find out the most (and least) expensive dog breeds in the world.

national dog show purina Courtesy Steven Donahue/See Spot Run Photography (2)

Your face might hurt

"When a dog walks into the room, the energy changes," says David Frei, a longtime expert analyst host of the NDS, and author of Angel on a Leash. He's right. You would have to be stone-cold and heartless not to feel the good vibes a dog emanates. It's the way they give you unconditional love, with no regard to your status in life, what you look like, or how much money you make. They bring out that warm, fuzzy feeling inside of us and smiles—oodles of smiles. So much so, my face hurt at the end of the day. You'll have a permanent smile on your face when you look at the cutest dog breeds as puppies.

View Slides 1-10