Here’s How Much Money Westminster Dog Show Winners Earn

The answer probably isn't what you're expecting.

The 113th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will take place in NYC’s Madison Square Garden on February 10 and 11, and you can bet your kibble that owners and pups are setting into high gear as they approach the big day. The reality is that an enormous amount of time and money is spent by competitors all with the hope of walking away with that glorious Best in Show ribbon. But how much, exactly, does the winner take home? You’d be surprised. The National Dog Show hosts share their most interesting memories throughout the years.

How much does the Westminster Dog Show winner earn?

Drumroll please… the first-place champion of the Westminster Dog Show earns a whopping $0. Instead of a juicy cash prize, the esteemed pooch crowned Best in Show receives an array of glimmering trophies and ribbons that their owner can proudly display. According to the Westminster Kennel Club official site, those are as follows:

  • Purple and Gold Rosette
  • Polished Pewter Trophy
  • The James Mortimer Memorial Cup, which is a Sterling Silver Trophy given if the dog is American-Bred. “For permanent possession to be won five times by the same ownership, an 8 x 10 Pewter Picture Frame will be given to commemorate each win of the permanent trophy,” the sit states.
  • The Westminster Legend Trophy, which is a hand-engraved Steuben Crystal Bowl
  • The Leash offers a Perpetual Sterling Silver Challenge Cup (if American-Bred). The site says, “A Polished Pewter Trophy will be given to commemorate this award.”

There’s still some money to be made, though

westminster dog show winnerAndrew Burton/Getty ImagesA trophy is great and there’s real pride in taking home the Best in Show title, but earning first place at the Westminster Dog Show also ushers in ample bank-making opportunities. For instance, the winning pooch receives sponsorships and ambassadorships and can even earn money for appearances, reports CNN Money. The winning pup also becomes highly valuable for breeding purposes since many want in on those award-winning genes.

Though it’s difficult to estimate each champion’s money-making potential—many winners keep mum on the topic—a Salon.com article points to the case of Peter the Standard Poodle, who won Westminster’s Best in Show in 1991. His frozen semen was accidentally destroyed in 2010, and the owners were awarded roughly $200,000 in the legal battle. The owners ultimately sued for the value of the samples versus the value of the puppies, which Salon speculates could have been worth over $1 million.

Speaking of winning Westminster dog names, you’ll get a kick out of the funniest names of dogs who’ve entered the competition over the years.

It’s not cheap to raise a Westminster Winner

Though there’s money to be made, it’s also important to note how quickly costs add up for dog show competitors. First, there’s the cost of actually purchasing the pup, which can be very expensive if you’re sourcing from those award-winning genes we mentioned above. For example, a purebred wire fox terrier—which has won more than any other breed at Westminster—costs an average of $1,000 to $1,500 according to dogbreedslist.info. (There are technically dogs who cost way more, though.)

From there, you have to factor in other expenses, such as training, regular grooming, transportation, hotel and travel costs, competition entry fees, and even marketing and campaigning expenses. CNBC estimates that these costs can reach more than $250,000 over the cost of the competing dog’s lifetime.

The bottom line

westminster dog show winner best in show prize Andrew Burton/Getty ImagesSimply looking at the numbers, it’s pretty clear that many Westminster competitors are ultimately in this game for the sheer joy and satisfaction of it all. Kind of like the fulfillment a parent might have when their kids ace a test or score big at the game. Many competitors say that few things compare to the thrill of competing and the pride they feel seeing their pooch strutting after all that hard work. And you know what? We argue that feeling is probably better than any cash prize. Next, read on for 14 behind-the-scene secrets from the National Dog Show.

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Wendy Rose Gould
Wendy Rose Gould is a freelance lifestyle reporter covering pets for Reader's Digest, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Rescue Pop. She's also a regular contributor to NBC, Real Simple, Brides, Business Insider, and other outlets. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, by way of the Indiana countryside, Wendy holds a journalism degree from the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism and another bachelor's degree in Philosophy. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @wendyrgould.