16 of the Most Unforgettable Images from the Westminster Dog Show
What do you get when you mix 2,360 dogs, their human entourages, and thousands of adoring fans? Some truly amazing pictures.
Caught on camera!
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The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (WDS) is a time-honored tradition for dog lovers around the world. We cheer as we watch one dog after another strut their stuff in the famous show ring at Madison Square Garden, and we hope the judge will call out our favorite for Best in Show. (Spoiler alert: If it’s one of these 9 beloved dogs, it probably won’t win.) But there’s a lot more to the WDS than the prestigious show ring. This three-day event is ripe for capturing “oohs” and “ahhs,” as well as “what-the-what?” moments. Here are 15 of the most unforgettable images you’ll look at over and over.
Is that a dog or a mop?
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It’s actually the Komondor, a Hungarian herding dog with corded hair that resembles dreadlocks. The Komondor isn’t the only dog with this unique coat. The Puli, another Hungarian herding dog, sports a similar show-stopping hairdo. The Komondor doesn’t require brushing, and that’s a good thing, because how the heck would you do that? That said, it’s essential to separate the cords once they form to avoid painful matting. It’s a tedious task to maintain that corded glam, but on the plus side, grooming is a built-in opportunity for bonding with your dog. The Komondor is known for being affectionate, gentle—and patient. Speaking of grooming, this is how often you should wash your dog.
Call it a night
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Waz’n Me, a bulldog, was out like a light after competing in the 2005 WDS. Dog shows are a process of elimination, and Westminster spans three days. The 2020 show will open with 2,360 dogs, and on the final night, it will be down to just seven dogs competing for Best in Show. Here’s how it goes: After the Best of Breed competition, the winners advance to the Group competition. There are seven Groups: Toy, Terrier, Sporting, Non-Sporting, Working, Hound, and Herding. Four placements are awarded in each group, and only the group winner moves on to Best in Show. The final show ring features seven dogs, one from each group vying for the top prize. Whew. It’s no wonder this hunk of chunk was all tuckered out after showing. Here’s what your dog’s sleeping position might be telling you.
Can I have some privacy, please?
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There’s no walking around the block to find the perfect tree or fire hydrant to do your business. The WDS is a benched show, which means all dogs and breeders/handlers must be available to meet and greet with the public from their assigned “bench.” All dogs are required to stay on their designated bench or in their bench area the entire time of the dog show, with three exceptions—when they are showing, being groomed, or going potty. Some dogs have a shy bladder and hold it for hours. Here are some other fascinating backstage secrets from another benched show, the National Dog Show.
When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go!
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“Hey, Mr. Beagle, you just won first place in the Junior Showmanship category. What are you going to do next?” Disney World (or, more likely, a hot dog stand) would have to wait because this adorable pup at the 2017 WDS wasn’t going to let the call of nature take him out the ring. He popped a squat and did his business on the famed green carpet. Better to feel relieved than bloated before accepting a trophy! It probably didn’t take too long to scoop up the Beagle’s business, but for a Great Dane, it might take a “hazmat team,” as John Hurley joked when sharing his most memorable moments as a host for the National Dog Show.
Not much room to roll over
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Most dog shows are unbenched, so the dogs that are competing only have to be present for judging. When they’re not in the ring, dogs can leave or hang around the event area. As we already mentioned, Westminster is one of the few benched dog shows in the nation, but what does “bench” mean? The size of the bench area varies by breed, and bigger dogs are assigned bigger areas than smaller dogs. Still, the square footage is akin to “tiny house” living: A bench for the dog to sit on for the “meet and greet,” a crate, and a tote for grooming essentials and food are all packed into a small space. It’s no wonder the dogs look so happy when they hit the green carpet in the show ring—they can finally run! Here are another 13 fascinating facts about Westminster.
Smartphones aren’t just for humans
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A German Shorthaired Pointer looks on as its owner scrolls through her phone in the grooming area at the 2016 WDS. The WDS lasts for three days and features a variety of events, including junior showmanship, dog obedience, and agility championships. But despite how much always seems to be going on, there’s still a whole lot of “hurry up and wait”—with an emphasis on the wait. Breed judging begins at 8:30 a.m., and if you win in your breed, you advance to the group judging, which doesn’t start until 7:30 p.m. By the way, another German Shorthaired Pointer named CJ won Best in Show that year. While Pointers have been a staple at dog shows for years, these are the newest breeds you’ll see at Westminster.
Where’s the kibble?
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Apparently, someone didn’t tell Stump the Sussex Spaniel that the Best in Show trophy doesn’t come with treats. Believe it or not, it doesn’t come with money either. Best in Show winners take home a trophy, a crystal bowl, and a commemorative picture frame. While that stuff’s obviously for the humans, the canine victors also get a celebratory lunch at New York City’s famous Sardi’s restaurant. We hope that Stump’s included dessert, too, because he had two things to celebrate: In addition to winning Best in Show in 2009, he became the oldest dog to earn that title at 10 years, 2 months, and 9 days of age, proving that you can teach an old dog some new tricks. Here are 14 reasons you should consider adopting an older dog.
Uh-oh, I hope she doesn’t see my waxy buildup
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The dogs that show at Westminster didn’t qualify based on their good looks and obedience skills. Dog shows are actually conformation shows whose sole purpose is to evaluate breeding stock. Judges are looking for the dogs that embody all the bells and whistles of the breed standard. Take the Black and Tan Coonhound pictured here at the 2006 WDS. His ear span is 26 inches. According to the breed standard for a Black and Tan Coonhound, the ears must “extend naturally well beyond the tip of the nose and are set at eye level or lower. Penalize ears that do not reach the tip of the nose and are set too high on the head.” They probably should be clean, too. This is how often you should be cleaning your dog’s ears—and how to do it safely.