For 144 years, dogs from around the world have ventured to New York City every February. They’re all there to compete for the coveted title of Best In Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, presented by Purina® Pro Plan®.
How does the champion make his way to the winner’s circle, though? Keep reading to learn more about how the WKC dog show works.
A Conformation Dog Show
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a “conformation dog show.” This means judges evaluate the dogs based on how they compare—or “conform”—to their official breed standards.
The breeds’ parent clubs establish these standards. The standards describe ideal features like structure, movement and temperament.
Dog Show Groups
The competition starts with over 2,500 dogs across 205 breeds. All the American Kennel Club (AKC)-recognized breeds fall into one of seven Groups.
Breeds in the same Group share similar purposes. Learn more about each of the seven Groups below.
- Hound: Breeds in this Group are either sight or scent hounds. The Hound Group includes popular dogs like the Basset Hound, Beagle and Dachshund.
- Toy: The Toy Group is comprised of small lap dogs, such as the Pomeranian, Papillion, Chihuahua and Toy Poodle.
- Non-Sporting: The Non-Sporting Group was one of AKC’s original Groups. It consists of a wide range of breeds, like the French Bulldog, Chow Chow and Boston Terrier.
- Herding: Dogs in the Herding Group will herd animals and even their human companions. These breeds include the Australian Shepherd, Border Collie and the German Shepherd Dog.
- Sporting: The Sporting Group was the other original AKC Group. It now consists of hunting dogs like the Cocker Spaniel, Irish Setter and Golden Retriever.
- Working: The Working Group includes large dogs like the Mastiff, Great Dane and Siberian Husky. These breeds perform tasks like pulling sleds, water rescues or guarding property.
- Terrier: This feisty Group includes popular breeds like the Miniature Schnauzer, Bull Terrier and Parson Russell Terrier.
The Dog Show Competition
First, all dogs compete against the other dogs in their breed. The “Best of Breed” winners head to Madison Square Garden for the two-day Group competition.
In the Group competition, the Best of Breed winners compete against other dogs in their AKC Group. On the first night, dogs in the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups take the ring. The judges name one dog from each Group the “Group Winner.”
On the second night, dogs in the Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups take the ring for their AKC Group competitions. At the end of the second night, the Group winners all compete for the Best In Show title.
Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 101
Download the pdf below to learn more about how the WKC Dog Show works.
In 2018, Purina® Pro Plan® fueled all seven Group winners, including the Best In Show champion, at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.† Eleven of the last twelve Best In Show champions broke through to victory with help from the advanced nutrition of Purina Pro Plan.†