Every year, the Westminster Dog Show showcases the top pooches from the around the country. The first competition was way back in 1877, and it happens to be the second longest-running sporting event in the United States, right after the Kentucky Derby. Originally, the show consisted of two groups, but now, it features seven groups: herding, hound, non-sporting, sporting, terrier, toy, and working. This year, a total of 2,500 pets (the show's entry limit) from 205 different breeds and varieties strutted their stuff to take home the grand prize. Every dog's (and owner's and trainer's) end goal is the same: to win best in show. However, it's a long road to make it to Madison Square Garden, where the contest is held.
To even be able to compete in Westminster, dogs must participate in competitions all year long to win titles and earn a high ranking. Then, the chosen ones compete against other dogs of the same breed. Judges compare each contestant to the "ideal dog", not against each other, and determine which one is just about perfect. Once they win their breed, they are broken up into one of the seven groups. After the winner of each class is selected, the final seven dogs vie for the top prize.
This year, a regal-looking standard poodle from the non-herding group won it all. (The first standard poodle to win since 1991, according to the American Kennel Club.) However, we think every dog should have its day, so we're featuring all the winners of each class from the Westminster Dog Show. Not only are these pets rated the best of their breeds, but they also offer excellent naming inspiration. (Plus, they're all very cute.)
Bono, a 3.5-year-old male from Menlo Park, California, won top honors for the toy group. (It's also the second year in a row he's placed first among the toys.) Although small in size, dogs in this class group often have big personalities. They're bred for companionship and what many people call "lapdogs."
A 4.5-year-old female won first place in the hound group. The hounds were initially part of the sporting group but were separated into their class in 1930. They are hunting dogs that track by sight or scent. Although her name comes from a liquor invented in Kentucky, this pooch resides in Athens, Georgia.
Conrad herding abilities makes him a farmer's best friend. This pup is a 6-year-old male from Bella Vista, California. He's part of the herding group, which includes breeds that have the instinct to round up livestock and other animals.
Breed: Shetland Sheepdog
Daniel took home first place in the sporting group, and he also won over everyone's hearts this year. (Just look at that sweet face!) He's a 6-year-old male from Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Pups in the sporting group originally helped out hunters. They have lots of energy but an even temperament. Gail Miller Bisher, director of communications for Westminster was impressed by Daniel's performance. "To win best of breed in the largest entry this year and in a competitive breed like goldens at Westminster, and then go on to sweep the sporting group is a huge achievement," he says in a news release.
Breed: Golden Retriever
Now, this is a top dog. Siba, a 4-year-old female from Northampton, Pennsylvania, won the non-sporting group and best in show. The American Kennel Club once classified dogs into two groups: sporting and non-sporting. Eventually, after the other classes were created, there were still a handful of diverse pooches that didn't fit into the other groups, so they went into non-sporting.
Breed: Standard Poodle
Vinny is a 3-year-old male from Newport, Rhode Island. As a member of the terrier group, dogs like Vinny are known for their determination. The word terrier is derived from the Latin word terra, which means ground, as these pooches need to be small enough to be able to burrow.
Breed: Wire Fox Terrier
Wilma is used to being in the winner's circle as she also won first place in the working group in 2019. She's a 4.5-year-old female from Aubrey, Texas, in the working class that is made up of smart dogs known for their powerful, muscular bodies.