Meet the Westminster Dog Show Sporting Group

Updated: 5/1/20241-2 minutes
Dog from the Sporting Group

Dogs come from around the world to compete in New York City at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, presented by Purina® Pro Plan®.

The Group competitions take place over two nights. The Sporting Group opens night two with the Best In Show winner announced at the end of the night.

History of the Sporting Group

When the American Kennel Club (AKC) first began classifying dogs, there were two Groups: Sporting and Non-Sporting. The Sporting Group used to include Hounds and Terriers. These breeds were later split into their own Group, though.

Now the Sporting Group includes gun dogs developed to assist hunters. This includes one of AKC’s newest breeds, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (“Kooiker”), which became eligible for competition in 2018. These dogs have remarkable instincts, both in water and woods. They’re naturally active and alert with stable temperaments.

Sporting Dog Breeds

The Sporting Group includes four breed types: Retrievers, Spaniels, Pointers and Setters. Sporting dog breeds include all the following dogs and more.

  • Cocker Spaniel: As the smallest breed in the Sporting Group, the Cocker Spaniel is also one of the most popular breeds in America. Cockers got their name from their skill in hunting woodcock.
  • German Shorthaired Pointer: The GSP is one of the most versatile breeds in the Group. He can point, track, hunt and retrieve on land or in water.
  • Golden Retriever: Goldens are one of the most popular breeds in America, because they’re great family dogs. They’ve also been featured in movies and on TV. Their original purpose, though, was to retrieve waterfowl for hunters.
  • Irish Setter: Irish hunters began breeding the Setter in the 1800s. They signal to hunters they’ve located birds by “setting” on their bellies.

Sporting Group Fun Facts

  • Twenty Best In Show winners have come from the AKC Sporting Group.
  • In 2016, a German Shorthaired Pointer named CJ became the 10th consecutive Best In Show champion fueled by Purina Pro Plan.*
  • Two other German Shorthaired Pointers have won Best In Show.
  • There are three breeds tied for most consecutive Group wins. The Cocker Spaniel (black), Pointer and the Gordon Setter have three consecutive wins each.
  • Although they are one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., the Golden Retriever has never won Best In Show.


*The handler or owner of these champions may have received Pro Plan dog food as Purina ambassadors.

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