The above picture was taken by me at Best of Breed in 2007as with all pictures in the Westminster Series
Westminster Kennel Club held its first show in 1877 in New York City a place that was becoming the World’s Greatest City. As the city became more and more prestigious so did the Kennel Club and its yearly dog show. Westminster quickly became the place to show your dog and be seen in the dog show world. Westminster is now the second longest running sporting event in the country. Only the Kentucky Derby has been around longer and then only by a year.
“Westminster gets its name from a long gone hotel in Manhattan. There, sporting gentlemen used to meet in the bar to drink and lie about their shooting accomplishments. Eventually they formed a club and bought a training area and kennel. They kept their dogs there and hired a trainer. “
“They couldn’t agree on the name for their new club. But finally someone suggested that they name it after their favorite bar. The idea was unanimously selected, we imagine, with the hoisting of a dozen drinking arms.”
– Maxwell Riddle, from a newspaper story quoted in
“The Dog Show, 125 Years of Westminster” by William Stifel
Achieving Best In Show is the most-coveted award in American dog shows. Breeders and judges from around the world flock to NYC for this event to see and touch the dogs on display in the benching area. Best In Show at Westminster, was given for the first time in 1907 the prestigious award went to a Smooth Fox Terrier bitch (female) named Ch. Warren Remedy. She went on to compete to more years and remains the only dog every to win three times. Today a dog who wins at Westminster generally is never entered again and instead goes into retirement only visiting shows around the country to make guest appearances and have fun.
It is still the greatest group of dogs assembled from around the world each year in the same place at the same time.
Only 2,500 champions are invited to compete in this show annually as it is a Benched Show and all exhibitors need to keep their dogs in the benching area for the entire day that their breed is in the ring. Being that Westminster is held at Madison Square Garden space is limited for the benching of the dogs where spectators can walk up to these beautiful dogs and speak with their, owners, handlers, and breeders. As of this year there are officially 173 different breed and varieties entered to compete some breed entries with only one or two and some breeds with entries so large they cannot all fit in the ring at the same time.