In 1877, a group of sporting gentlemen gathered in a Manhattan bar and formed the Westminster Kennel Club. Now in its 141st year, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has been dubbed “America’s Dog Show.”
But, with prized pups from around the nation coming to Madison Square Garden to compete for Best in Show, “America’s Dog Show” has yet to award some of America’s favorite breeds with the top prize. In 140 years of competing, these 8 breeds, all ranking in the Top 20 of America’s favorite, most popular dogs, have never won Westminster.
Up first, America’s most favorite breed, the Labrador Retriever!
The Labrador is a retrieving gun dog of medium size, with a dense, weather-resistant coat, an “otter” tail, and a clean-cut head with a “kind” expression. The first Labradors arrived in England from Newfoundland aboard fishing boats early in the 19th century, and imports to this country began in the early 1900s. Labrador temperament is outgoing, indulgent with peers, human oriented and tractable. Labradors can be found in guide and assistance dog programs, and substance detection and search and rescue work. Since 1992, the Labrador Retriever has headed the list as the most popular breed in the U.S.
Not far behind in rank, the next breed that’s never won the big prize is the 5th most popular breed in America and a favorite “family dog.”
Can you guess which fair-haired breed has never won?
If you guessed the Golden Retreiver, you’re right!
The Golden Retriever was developed in Scotland and England in the late 19th century for the purpose of retrieving wildfowl on land and water. Its physical characteristics and its willing, adaptable, trainable nature have also fitted it for usefulness in many other endeavors such as service dogs, guide dogs for the blind, therapy dogs and search and rescue. While the Golden is an ideal family dog, it requires training and exercise. Persons wanting to purchase a Golden Retriever puppy should learn about this breed and purchase only from a reputable breeder.
Another favorite among pet parents, this long, short breed hasn’t had his time in the spotlight just yet… which breed is it?
If you guessed the Dachshund, you’re right!
The Dachshund, developed in Germany three centuries ago, is a perfect example of form following function. With his long, low body, prominent forechest and front legs designed for digging, the Dachshund is well equipped for going underground to hunt badger and other den-dwelling animals. A versatile hunter, he has the instincts and intelligence to excel in conformation, earthdog, obedience, agility and tracking events.
The clever, affectionate Dachshund is an entertaining and devoted pet. The three Varieties – Longhaired, Smooth, and Wirehaired – compete separately. Within each variety the two sizes, miniature and standard, are shown together.
Up next, the most popular of all the “little dogs,” and, subsequently, the second most popular breed of dog found in shelters across the country, these little dogs are BIG in personality, but have never taken the top prize at Westminster. Can you guess who it is?
If you guessed the Chihuahua, you were right!
There is much disagreement as to the origins of the Chihuahua. Guesses include Mexico and the Aztecs, Egypt, the Sudan and Malta. Used for sacrifice in religious ceremonies and eaten by the conquistadors, there is no question that it is an ancient breed. It was said that a yellow Chihuahua could guide its owner’s soul across the river of death to the other side. Chihuahuas have been a registered breed in this country for 100 years. Clever, gigantic in heart and personality, this no more than six pound companion is much beloved by owners. There are two varieties, Long and Smooth Coat.
Our next popular breed that’s come very close, but never taken the trophy is an ancient toy breed, known in the show ring for their gorgeous, long, shiny hair that’s often topped with a bow. Can you name this imperial favorite?
If you guessed the Shih Tzu, you’re right!
The Shih Tzu, according to tradition, was developed in China’s Imperial courts by the crossing of ancient Chinese and Tibetan breeds. This royal Toy dog became extinct in China following the revolution of 1949 but fortunately, a number of Shih Tzu had been taken home by diplomats so the breed was continued in England, Norway and Sweden. In recent years the breed has become enormously popular in the United States as a sturdy, lively, alert Toy dog that is a happy companion. Shih Tzu in the show ring have a long flowing double coat; family pets look charming in a variety of short-hair clips.
Our next breed, in stark contrast to the Chihuahua and Shih Tzu is one of the largest breeds in existence. Can you guess the name of this “great” big dog?
If you said the Great Dane, you were right!
The Dane is a true giant among breeds descending from the Mastiff. The Great Dane was developed in Germany to hunt wild boar, and was known as the Boar Hound when it appeared in America late in the 19th century. While intimidating in size and stature, this is a breed noted for its gentleness and “human-like” compassion. They make excellent family dogs. Its impressive size, family devotion and gentle nature combine to create a first-rate companion. The breed also competes well in obedience, agility and tracking. Permissible conformation colors are brindle, blue, black, fawn, harlequin and mantle.
Up next, this miniature version of his much larger cousin has never taken the top prize, despite being a fan favorite every year. Who is it?
Did you guess the Miniature Schnauzer? You’re right!
The Miniature Schnauzer, cousin to the larger Standard Schnauzer, did not originate in England as many of the terriers, but in Germany. He is a small dog but in no way is he delicate. He makes an excellent companion because he is obedient, quick to learn, devoted to his owner, spunky and fearless. His deepest need is to live as part of the family, going where they go and doing what they do. He does not shed, but needs to be groomed approximately every six weeks. He comes in three colors: salt and pepper, black and silver, and solid black.
This next dog is often mistaken for a Collie due to its similar appearance, but is much smaller – and more popular as a family pet. Who is it?
If you said Shetland Sheepdog, you’re right!
The Sheltie originated in the Shetland Islands, developing there and on the British mainland as a popular, affectionate companion, guardian and farm dog. The Sheltie generally resembles a Collie in miniature. His color may be sable (ranging from light golden brown to dark mahogany), black, or blue merle, with varying amounts of white and/or tan. His most outstanding characteristic is his unique temperament. He has an intense desire to please and an enormous capacity for love and affection. The Sheltie is exceptionally trainable and responsive, characteristics which make him an ideal companion and an outstanding worker in obedience and agility.
And, finally, which breed has won Best in Show more often than any other?
If you guessed the Wire Fox Terrier, good job! You’re right!
Through the 139th Westminster Show (February 2015), Best in Show has been won by the Terrier Group 46 out of the 108 times that the prize has been awarded since 1907, more than twice as many wins as any other group. The single breed that has won the most is the Wire Fox Terrier, which has won 15 times.
The origin of the Wire Fox Terrier dates back to the rough-coated black and tan terrier. Early pedigrees show that wire and smooth varieties were interbred until they became separate breeds in 1985. A non-shedding, hard broken outer coat and softer undercoat distinguishes the wire from its smooth cousin. An unconditional love for their human family, smart appearance, alert and outgoing manner always attracts attention, in and out of the show ring.
Which breed will you be cheering for this year? Tell us in a comment!