The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is an all-breed conformation show that was hosted in New York City from 1877 to 2020. For 2021, the event will move to Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is one of a handful of benched shows in the United States. Dogs are required to be on display in their assigned locations during the entire show except when shown in the ring, groomed for showtime, or taken outside for elimination. This type of presentation allows spectators and breeders alike to have an opportunity of seeing all the entered dogs.
Westminster Dog Show History
The first Westminster show took place on May 8, 1877, making it second only to the Kentucky Derby, in terms of continuously held sporting events in the United States. The show originated as a show for gun dogs, primarily Setters and Pointers, initiated by a group of hunters who met regularly at the Westminster Hotel at Irving Place and Sixteenth Street in Manhattan. They decided to create a kennel club called the Westminster Kennel Club specifically to hold a dog show. The prizes for these first shows included such items as pearl-handled pistols, which were of use to the hunters and terriermen who worked these dogs in the field.
Held at Gilmore’s Garden the Westminster show drew over 1,200 dogs. It proved so popular that it took four days instead of the three days originally scheduled. The club donated proceeds from the fourth day to the ASPCA for creation of a home for stray and disabled dogs. The Westminster Kennel Club predates the formation of the American Kennel Club by seven years and became the first club admitted to the AKC after AKC’s founding in 1884. Breed parent clubs create the standards for judging their breeds, with the AKC administering the rules about shows and judging.
Dogs are judged by how closely they conform to a written description of the ideal specimen of that breed. While many breeds no longer need to perform their original jobs and are bred mostly for companionship, they are still judged on their innate ability and physical makeup to perform their original jobs. Standards also include items that seem somewhat arbitrary such as color, eye shape, tail carriage, and more.
Westminster Dog Show Controversy
Animal-rights advocates such as PETA protest the show, arguing that the propagation and celebration of purebreds ultimately add to the millions of dogs who end up at and die in shelters. During the 2019 broadcast, broadcast rights holder Fox Sports was reprimanded by dog show sponsor Purina when a broadcast voice-over used to introduce a dog group was recorded by NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, who is sponsored by a direct competitor, Mars Petcare, as part of an overall sponsorship of Busch through both Mars Inc. candies and pet foods.
Westminster Dog Show Announcers
For many years, Roger A. Caras was known as the Voice of Westminster for providing the narration for the breed descriptions during the show. In 2001, Michael J. LaFave was named show announcer at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. He was replaced by Jim Fagan in 2010 but returned in 2011.
Westminster Dog Show Requirements for entry
In 1884, the AKC began requiring that all dog participants be registered with the AKC and recognized for conformation show competition. In 2016, there are 199 breeds and varieties eligible for Westminster. Because of the show’s popularity and prestige, starting in 1992 the AKC limited entries by requiring that dogs must have already earned their breed championship before appearing at Westminster. Later, the Westminster Kennel Club amended that rule – dogs only need one of the two required “major wins” towards their championship titles. However, they don’t need to be finished champions to enter.
Since 2020, the requirement that a dog be a Champion was reinstated by the Westminster Kennel Club and the entry limit decreased to 2,500. The conformation show was also spread over 3 days instead of the traditional 2 days, due to the unavailability of one of the usual venues for the event. The top five dogs in each breed , as well as the Best of Breed winner from each breed’s national specialty show, receive printed invitations by mail and are eligible for early entry. After that entry deadline passes, other dogs with at least one “major win” may enter, up to a cut-off entry total of 2800 dogs.
Westminster Dog Show Winners List
Here is the previous winner list of Westminster Dog Show:
Westminster Dog Show TV Info
CBS Sports covered the event from the late 1960s to the 1980s as part of its CBS Sports Spectacular anthology series. From 1984 until 2003, Universal’s USA Network broadcast the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Following Universal’s acquisition by General Electric in 2003 to form NBC Universal, from 2004 until 2016, the show aired under the NBC Sports label. From 2006 through 2016, the Monday coverage was aired by business news channel CNBC due to conflicts with WWE Raw on the USA Network. On July 28, 2015, Fox Sports announced that it had acquired rights to the event under a 10-year deal beginning in 2017. For the first three years, Fox Sports 1 and Nat Geo Wild provided joint coverage the show.
During NBC’s coverage from 1990 to 2016, David Frei co-hosted the event with partners, Al Trautwig, Bud Collins , Joe Garagiola, Mark McEwen, Lester Holt, Debbye Turner, Mary Carillo 2011, and Tamron Hall. Frei provided the commentary of the 140th event for his final time. The 141st event in 2017 marked the beginning of the Fox Sports contract. There are two sets of hosting teams. From 2017–19, coverage aired on Fox Sports 1 and National Geographic Wild.
For 2017, daytime breed judging was hosted by Justin Kutcher, Paula Nykiel and Jason Hoke and primetime coverage hosted by Chris Myers and Gail Miller Bisher. In 2018, daytime bred judging was hosted by Kutcher, Kimberly Meredith Cavanna and Don Sturz in 2018, while Hoke joined the evening booth of Myers and Bisher. In 2019, the judging experts were swapped, with the day event hosted by Kutcher, Cavanna, and Hoke and evening event by Myers, Bisher, and Sturz.
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