Thousands of dogs come to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show hoping to be crowned top dog and thousands of people cheer on their favorite breeds. But it’s not about America’s favorite dog at this dog show – it’s about that little something extra.
Based on registrations, the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever are among the most popular dogs in the country. But did you know that in more than 100 years of Westminster, neither of these breeds has ever won? The German Shepherd and the Beagle are consistently at the top of the list of favorite breeds, but each has won only once! Poodles on the other hand have taken the title eight times and the Terrier group has been named Best in Show a whopping 45 times.
So what gives?
In this show, more than any other, showmanship counts. It’s not that the Labradors and all of the other breeds that have never had their moment aren’t beautiful too. When it comes to zest and excitement in a show ring, the fact is not all breeds are equal.
At Westminster, the seven dogs who have won their groups aren’t ordinary dogs – they aren’t even ordinary show dogs. They are near perfect specimens, shining examples of their breeds.
So how does a judge choose from a group of perfect dogs?
The right strut, a playful look, a flowing or spectacular coat can make all the difference. The dog with the glitzy or striking appearance has the edge.
The one who can catch the judge’s eye or leave even a slightly stronger impression reigns king or queen in a crowd of royalty.
Often, the final decision comes down to personality. Madison Square Garden is nothing like even these experienced show dogs have ever seen. The adrenaline of the roaring crowd, the lights and the overwhelming tension can make or break a perfect dog. Almost every year one dog rises to the occasion. She is wagging her tail and having a great time. She loves the stage.
Terriers seem to have a knack for this environment. Independent and energetic, they keep their eyes on the prize and don’t just tolerate, but embrace the moment.
But you never know.
The Westminster dog show isn’t chosen off of statistics. The winner is a dog that radiates heart beauty, energy and that little extra something.
Every breed has the potential to have that kind of greatness.
Who will you be rooting for?