I am indebted to a reader, Sergio Gebram of Brazil, for a compilation of Best in Show winners at AKC all-breed shows held during 2011. The details of the 1,440 Best in Show wins make very interesting reading.
Would you have guessed, for instance, that Toy dogs won more Best in Shows than any of the other AKC Groups — 239 wins in all? With a Pekingese and an Affenpinscher both doing so well last year perhaps that’s not surprising, but who would have expected Hounds, with their earlier dismal record in all-breed competition, to be nearly as successful, with 222 Best in Show wins?
This was more than even the Sporting (216 wins) or Working (214 wins) breeds accomplished. Dogs from the Non-Sporting Group accounted for 209 Best in Shows, with Terriers taking “only” 178 wins (surely their weakest year in a long time), and Herding breeds bringing up the rear with 162 Best in Shows.
If you look at the top breeds, the list is naturally dominated by those that had a great winner last year. Black Cocker Spaniels took 71 all-breed Best in Shows last year, but 68 of these were won by a single dog. Standard Poodles accounted for 102 Best in Shows in all, more than any other breed or variety; they were divided among eight different dogs, with the top three winning 91 times.
How many Best in Show winners a breed produced is a sure indication of what judges are looking for in the finales. Ten different Golden Retrievers took home 29 Best in Shows, while e.g. Labrador Retrievers had just a single all-breed winner. Other top Sporting breeds were English Springer Spaniels (35 Best in Shows won by six dogs) and German Shorthaired Pointers (nine Best in Shows, six dogs).
Hounds were dominated by Whippets, which won 55 Best in Shows in all. The two top winners won 49 of these, with another four sharing the rest. Other successful breeds were the Pharaoh Hound (37 Best in Shows, three winners), 15” Beagle (27 Best in Shows, four winners), Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen (13 BIS, five winners), and Basset Hound (eight Best in Shows, five winners).
Boxers won more than any other Working breed: 70 Best in Shows total, divided among 13 different dogs, with the top two winning 51 times. Dobermans had fewer Best in Shows (37) but even more individual winners — 14 in all, more than any other breed. Rottweilers took 18 Best in Shows with six dogs; Samoyeds eight with six dogs, and Siberian Huskies also had eight Best in Shows, won by five different dogs.
Top Terrier breed was the American Staffordshire: the 29 Best in Shows in this breed were won by four different dogs. Smooth Fox Terriers won 26 Best in Shows, 21 of them by one dog and the rest shared by three others, while Wire Fox Terriers won 20 Best in Shows, 17 of which were won by a single dog, with three others earning one each. Other impressive numbers were shown by Kerry Blues (11 Best in Shows, five dogs) and Scotties (10 Best in Shows, five dogs).
Toys, as mentioned, were dominated by Pekingese (53 Best in Shows, 50 of them won by a single dog, the rest by two others) and Affenpinschers (43 Best in Shows, 33 won by one dog and 10 by another). The 28 Best in Shows that Miniature Pinschers took home were won by five dogs (21 by one of them), while the 21 Pug wins came through nine different dogs; 13 Shih Tzu Best in Shows were won by eight dogs; and 10 Papillon wins came from six dogs.
After Standard Poodles, the Bichon Frisé was top Non-Sporting breed with 35 Best in Shows won by four dogs (one of them with 25 wins). The Herding breeds were dominated by German Shepherds (32 Best in Shows, five dogs, one of them with 27 Best in Shows), Australian Shepherds (20 Best in Shows won by eight dogs), and Bouviers des Flandres (15 Best in Shows, seven dogs).
I would have liked to list all the kennels that produced multiple Best in Show winners, but there were just too many: at least 28 kennel names appeared on two Best in Show winners in the same breed! Just one single prefix appeared on three Best in Show winners, however: Alpine’s American Staffordshire Terriers.
As a footnote, no less than 42 breeds did not win a single all-breed Best in Show in 2011. An additional 23 breeds took just a single Best, and 20 won two. This means that about half of all eligible breeds have a real problem getting through to the top spot. Are these breeds just not as “good” as the rest? Are the judges prejudiced — or just plain ignorant, as some claim? And how much does the fact that you don’t need to be approved for more than one single Group in order to judge Best in Show at AKC shows affect the results?
Your guess is as good as mine.