Move over, Mickey: The last week of the year belonged to Pluto in Orlando, Florida. And Goofy, too. And more than 4,000 other dogs who were there for the American Kennel Club/Eukanuba National Championship, with dogs from 177 breeds competing in conformation, agility, and obedience; there were also competitions for juniors, owner-handled dogs, and for breeders. All were vying for more than $225,000 in prize money.
It wasn’t all competitions, though. There were information booths for every breed. Dock diving. Flyball demos. Seminars. Award ceremonies. Vendors. All under one roof in a one-million-square-foot space. It’s the largest dog event in North America, and second in prestige only to the Westminster Kennel Club.
Dogs came from around the globe for this special competition. All in all, 43 top dogs received all-expenses-paid trips to compete for the title (and $10,000!).
After preliminary judging, the finalists were the Dachshund from Russia, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen from the Netherlands, the Doberman Pinscher from the USA, the Maltese from Taiwan, the Standard Poodle from the UK, the Phalene Papillon from Latvia, the Doberman from Malaysia, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi (from the USA, but she earned her place by winning the North American Breeder Stakes), the Yorkshire Terrier (FCI Asia winner), the Scottish Terrier (FCI Europe winner), the Dogo Argentino (FCI Americas winner), and the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen (Crufts Best in Show winner).
The finalists paraded under the spotlight, escorted by an official from their country carrying the country’s flag, and then the judge got to work. The Standard Poodle, Ricky, from the UK, emerged the victor, with the Dogo Argentino Runner-Up ($3,000 prize) and Fifi the Doberman from the USA the first Runner-Up ($2,000 prize).
Fifi is probably America’s most popular show dog on Facebook, so she had tons of folks on social media rooting for her!
This was another popular event. Show dogs at the top level of competition are more often than not piloted by professional handlers, who show dogs full time. Like professional jockeys, they’re more talented than most amateur owners, more well-known, and can spend every weekend traveling to shows. So the AKC devised a competition just for owner-handled dogs, and the top ranked ones in each breed were invited to compete in the finals.
This year the Best in Show award went to an owner handler who has proved you can rise to the top against the professionals: Armando Angelbello and Classie, the Miniature Pinscher. This team has competed against the pros to become the No. 3 ranked dog of all breeds for 2013, breaking the record for Best in Show wins for her breed with 115 Best in Show awards!
Another special competition is for owner-handlers who also bred the dog they’re showing. Best Bred-by-Exhibitor in Show as won by the Old English Sheepdog, GCh Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect. You may remember him as the dog that won Reserve Best in Show at Westminster last year.
The Eukanuba Breeders Stakes is one of the most exciting competitions, allowing spectators to see a sampling of dogs from the same breeder. It’s one thing to produce one big winner; quite another to produce three exemplary individuals. This year the competition was won by the Coventry Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
In Junior Showmanship, the competitors (who must be under 18) are judged on their ability to present their dog. The 148 Junior Showmanship qualifiers once again showed their dogs to perfection. They competed in two preliminary rounds, with finalists competing in the main arena for best Junior, which was won by Katelynn Edgecombe and her Pug.
With more than 100 entries, Best in Miscellaneous Classes was a big event, with the honor going to a Miniature American Shepherd.
Of course, the main event is still the AKC National Championship, and the seven group winners were a who’s who among the nations’ dogs. The group winners and placers were as follows:
So who would be Best in Show (and take home $50,000)? Sky, the Wire Fox Terrier, No. 1 dog of all breeds for 2013? Matisse, the Portuguese Water Dog, No. 2 of all breeds? Jewel, the Foxhound, winner of Best in Show at the National Dog Show, and the nation’s No. 1 hound? Roger, the Peke, piloted by the same handler who had won a Westminster Best in Show with a Peke a few years ago? The record breaking Irish Water Spaniel, Riley? The ground-covering German Shepherd? The dogs were gaited one last time. The crowd grew quiet as the judge walked to the center of the ring …
“Reserve Best in Show … is the Wire Fox Terrier!”
“Best in Show is … the Portuguese Water Dog!”
You can watch videos of every group, and every breed, being judged here.
Planning an Orlando vacation? Why not visit in December and go to the dogs at next year’s AKC/Eukanuba National Championship show? And in the meantime, follow the American Kennel Club on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Learn more about dogs with Dogster:
About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.