Dates: February 11-12, 1957
Number of Entries/Dogs: 2,693/2,594
Best in Show Winner: The Afghan Hound Ch. Shirkhan of Grandeur, owned by Sunny Shay and Dorothy Chenade.
Group Winners: The Pekingese Ch. Chik-T’Sun of Caversham, owned by Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Venable (Toy Group); the Dalmatian Ch. Roadcoach Roadster, owned by Mrs. S. K. Allman, Jr. (Non-Sporting Group); the Cocker Spaniel Ch. Gail’s Ebony Don D, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Roy O’Nelson (Sporting Group); the Boxer Ch. Barrage of Quality Hill, owned by Mr. & Mrs. Jouett Shouse (Working Group); the Airedale Terrier Westhay Fioria of Harham, owned by Harold M. Florsheim (Terrier Group).
Best in Show Judge: Mrs. Beatrice H. Godsol
In the March 1957 issue of Dog World magazine, Editor Capt. Will Judy, reported that Madison Square Garden’s arrangement this year “appeared more roomy on both floors.” There appeared to be more young people at the 1957 Westminster Kennel Club dog show than there had been in previous years, according to a newspaper reporter Judy sat next to during the judging of the Sporting Group. Judy also noted during the Terrier Group that one man wore a cap and one woman wore slacks, which must have caused quite the surprise in 1957.
Poodles seemed to rule the 1957 show, at least until the Group judging. Among the 2,693 entries, 234 of them were Toy, Miniature and Standard Poodles. Included in the Poodle entries was the previous year’s Non-Sporting Group winner, the white Standard Poodle Kette, though he was defeated in the breed by a Puttencove entry. The breed with the next-highest amount of entries was the Dachshund with 163.
In his article on that year’s Westminster show, Judy proposed two ideas. The first was to eliminate the entries of puppies without blue ribbons. Puppies, at that time, were the exception to the rule that all dogs entered must have won a blue ribbon in either the US or Canada. Because of all the puppy entries in 1957, 750 entries had to be returned due to a lack of space. Getting rid of the puppy entries and making Westminster a “super-limited event,” Judy argued, would leave more room for top-quality dogs to be shown. His second proposal was for all dog shows to add a gundog exhibition like the one that appeared before the Best in Show judging at that year’s Westminster. Several Sporting breeds demonstrated their talents, and Judy suggested the exhibition would “brighten up” dog shows for the public.
Shirkhan was the first dog from the Hound Group to win the Garden. He was also the first Afghan Hound to win Best in Show at Westminster. The second, Ch. Kabiks The Challenger (‘Pepsi’), won in 1983 and had Shirkhan in his pedigree several times.
Other Historical Events of 1957
- Dwight D. Eisenhower is inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States.
- Toyota starts selling cars in the US.
- Malaya (now Malaysia) and Ghana both gain independence from Britain.
- The first animal to orbit the Earth, a dog named Laika, enters space aboard the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 2.
- “American Bandstand” makes its national debut on ABC.
A General History of the Westminster Dog Show
In the 1870s, a group of New York City sporting dog enthusiasts would get together in a hotel bar in Manhattan to talk about dogs. They called their group The Westminster Breeding Association, named after the hotel, and helped stage a dog show in Philadelphia celebrating the nation’s centennial. After changing the name to the Westminster Kennel Club, they held a dog show in 1877 in the Hippodrome at Gilmore’s Garden in New York City. For almost 140 consecutive years, the show has been held in New York City every February. The Westminster Kennel Club Show is one of the oldest continuous sporting events in the United States, second only to the Kentucky Derby, and is the oldest dog show in the United States. The coveted title of Best in Show wasn’t awarded until 1907, when it went to a Smooth Fox Terrier that also won the next two years. The show’s first television broadcast was in 1948. Westminster is one of the only benched shows in the United States, drawing large crowds to see all of the dogs entered.