Every pet parent believes their dog is show-worthy, but does your beauty have what it takes to be in the Westminster Dog Show? This year’s show takes place on February 10th and 11th and only 3,200 dogs will be included. Competition is intense, and if you’ve ever dreamed of wrangling an invite for your pup or want him to compete in one of the non-invited events, here’s what you need to know.
Fun Facts About the Westminster Dog Show
It’s the premiere event for show dogs and one of America’s oldest canine traditions. Since 1877, the Westminster Dog Show has sought to “celebrate the companionship of dogs while promoting responsible dog ownership, health, and breed preservation."
Here are some fun and interesting facts you might not know about the show.
- The name “Westminster” is not related to England in any way. Instead, it comes from the Westminster Hotel’s bar where local hunting dog owners would gather to brag about their animals.
- Since the inception of the show, which was created to decide whose dog reigned supreme, the event has been held at New York’s Madison Square Garden (originally known as Gillmore’s Garden).
- To many people’s surprise, there is no actual monetary prize attached to Best in Show. But breeders whose dogs have taken top prizes say the offspring of champions often bring in substantial money.
- The smallest dog to win Best in Show was Great Elms Prince Charming II, a Pomeranian who weighed in at a mere four and a half pounds.
- With 14 wins, the most popular breed to achieve Best in Show is the wire fox terrier.
The dogs in the show are also beloved pets that share in the exhibitors’ everyday family life. And the pet parents themselves are just like other dog lovers, though they could develop some showmanship talents of their own, as fans of Christopher Guest’s movie “Best in Show” can tell you!
How Dogs Get Invited
The entrants at the Westminster Dog Show have earned the opportunity to represent their breed and they do not compete against each other. The contest simply decides which dogs best represent their particular breed using features like coat texture, heritage or breeding stock, and anatomy. There’s a lot of work a parent and their dog must do before getting into the show.
Dog shows are held throughout the United States over the course of a year and are used to determine which dogs move closer to Westminster. Best of Breed winners then advance to the next level, Best in Show. Invites to Westminster are given to the top five dogs who are ranked according to the number of dogs they defeated at these shows.
Getting Your Dog Into the Show
It takes a lot more than merely showing up with your dog in tow!
- He must be certified a purebred. As adorable as your pup might be, he won’t qualify for Westminster if he isn’t a fully pure breed.
- Only “intact” dogs are allowed, which means if your dog’s been neutered or spayed, they’re out of luck.
If he does meet these two requirements but hasn’t scored an invite, your dog is eligible to compete if he’s won a certain number of major dog show awards.
If you have a purebred dog whose reproductive organs are still in place, you can technically still get into the Westminster Dog Show, but you might find it much more enjoyable to take in the show from the comfort of your couch with your four-legged friend nestled warmly beside you.