Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – Day 1 Recap

The sports calendar every year is marked with a few marquee events that everyone has circled: the Super Bowl, the Masters, the Olmpics/World Cup every so often, the Kentucky Derby, and perhaps the greatest of them all, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Wait, what?

That’s right, it’s that time of the year again, where the greatest canine athletes/models/whatever else you can describe show dogs as descend upon Madison Square Garden for the 143rd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. An annual tradition at the Garden in New York City, this event has truly grown into a spectacle to behold. And while not everyone may be a dog nerd like myself that appreciate the breed traits and personalities, even the casual viewer can get fired up watching Poodles. Pomeranians, and Corgis trotting down across the floor.

Overview of the Show

For those who may not be aware, the Westminster show is the Super Bowl of the dog showing world. To summarize how it works, each breed is represented by one single dog who best exemplifies that breed standard – think appearance, gait, demeanor, etc. The whole deal, not just one facet. From there, the breeds are broken into seven groups that are judged over two days: Hounds, Toy, Non-Sporting, Herding, Working, Sporting, and Terriers. The winner of each group is, in theory, the dog that most exemplifies its breed out of the whole group. From there, the seven group winners compete on Tuesday night for Best in Show, the ultimate crown.

Last year’s winner of the Westminster show was the Bichon Frise, Flynn. I mean, just look at this guy. This fluffball just exudes an “IT” factor. You can’t teach that.

If you’re into that sort of thing, you can read more about the show here. I know most of the people reading this probably aren’t, so let’s get into the results from today’s first day of the 2019 Westminster Kennel Club show.

Hound Group

Winner: Dachshund (Longhaired)

2nd Place: Whippet

3rd Place: Beagle (13″-15″)

4th Place: Basenji

Full disclosure, I didn’t watch this group. Saw it started at 7pm, thought it was Central time, but apparently it was East Coast time. That one’s on me, gotta be better tomorrow.

That being said, this dog is a beaut so no surprise Burns the Dachshund took this one home.

Toy Group

Winner: Havanese

2nd Place: Pug

3rd Place: Yorkshire Terrier

4th Place: English Toy Spaniel

Gotta love the toy group, easily the most entertaining of the Westminster group shows. What is a toy dog, you ask? Think Pomeranian, Pug, Shih Tzu, Pekanese, etc. All the little floofy guys like this:

Lot of small dogs with big personalities. That being said, I was shocked at this group’s result. Biggie the Pug came is as a heavy favorite, winning the group at Westminster in 2018. He was a crowd favorite at MSG, easily drawing the loudest ovations. Easily the closest thing to a rock star the sport has. Here’s a clip from last year:

While disappointed in Biggie’s loss, Bono the Havanese was certainly deserving. This dog is also gorgeous, what with the flowing coat and all. At this level, all the dogs are top notch and you can’t really go wrong.

Non-Sporting Group

Winner: Schipperke

2nd Place: French Bulldog

3rd Place: Chow Chow

4th Place: Standard Poodle

The third group of the night, the Non-Sporting, is easily the most diverse at Westminster. This is kind of a miscellaneous bucket of breeds that don’t fit into other groups, with everything from Poodles to Dalmatians to Bichon Frises to Bulldogs. As the judges need to know each breed standard to a T, this group seems to be the most difficult to judge with the wide range.

While I was pulling for the Bichon to repeat as a former owner of two Bichon’s, it wasn’t meant to be this year. The top two dogs here were really incredible, with the Frenchie being adorable as usual, and the Schipperke really coming out of nowhere. In the end, Colton the Schipperke made history, becoming the first dog of it’s breed to advance to Best in Show. And I can’t really blame the judge, this thing looks like a mini wolf and had a touch of swagger a show dog needs. Let’s see if it can keep this run going tomorrow night.

Herding Group

Winner: Bouvier du Flandres

2nd Place: Border Collie

3rd Place: German Shepherd

4th Place: Old English Sheepdog

The final group of the first night of the Westminster show brought perhaps the strongest. I mean, as far as dog shows go, this group was an absolute buzzsaw, the Group of Death.

Let’s break it down: The German Shepherd had an absolutely beautiful coat and gait, and that breed is the only herding dog to ever win best in show.

The Old English Sheepdog was the top ranked dog in the entire show, regardless of breed.

Slick the Border Collie won the group last year and is an absolutely beautiful dog that plays to the crowd, as much as a dog can.

Hell, you even had an Australian Shepherd named Trump!

Absolute toss-up of a group, an incredible collection of canine talent. And who won? Baby Lars the Bouvier du Flandres in the shock of the century:

All credit to Baby Lars in this one, he wasn’t on anyone’s radar going into the Westminster show, but hey they don’t give out Best in Show on paper.

We’ll have more action coming at you tomorrow night, with the Sporting, Working, and Terrier Groups before Best in Show. Stay tuned to see who takes home the ultimate crown in the canine world, Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

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