Another Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is over. Dogs and handlers are packing their bags, leaving for home, most of them ribbonless, but all cherishing memories. Because win or lose, Westminster is the Mecca of the dog show world, the see-and-be-seen-ville of dogdom. A few, however, are leaving with big rosettes tucked into their luggage.
Monday the Hounds, Toys, Herding, and Non-sporting dogs were judged—and in typical Westminster style, it had some surprises.
While Westminster is known for an upset or two at the breed level, this year this group had everyone scrambling to redo their predictions! Of last year’s top 10 Hounds, only two made it to the competition. Others were retired, entered but absent, or defeated at the breed level.
The entire Harrier entry, including our favorite, Chet, was absent! But the other breeds were well represented.
In Bloodhounds, it was last year’s #3 Hound versus last year’s #10 Hound, and #10 won the day! Nathan (GCh Flessner’s International S-ccess) won three Best in Shows last year and has already come out winning this year! He was shown by his breeder and owner, which we always like to see.
In Whippets, another breeder-owner-handled dog won: Tawny (GCh Sporting Field’s Bahama Sands) surprised everyone by coming out of retirement. In the end, it was between her and her housemate (and our predicted winner), Brazen (GCh Sporting Fields Shameless).
Making it a family affair, Tawny was shown by Debbie Butt, while Brazen was shown by Tawny’s regular handler, Debbie’s daughter, Amanda Giles.
Other surprises came about in the Afghan ring, where our pick for the group winner, Matrix, was beat by Rachel (GCH Criston Enchanted), and in Otterhounds, where GCH Scentasia’s End of an Era sniffed out a win. We knew last year’s winner, Jewel, couldn’t make it because of maternity duties, so it was nice her sister took her place as the breed representative.
The Hound group has 31 breeds in it, one of AKC’s largest groups. New this year was the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno (pronounced “pee-KANE-oh” not “pee-KANE-yo”). The group also has several fairly newly recognized Coonhound breeds, including the American English and Treeing Walker. It has the greatest size difference of any group, from Irish Wolfhound to Miniature Dachshund.
Judge Doug Johnson has the distinction of breeding two different Westminster Best in Show winners, a Clumber Spaniel and a Sussex Spaniel. The Bloodhound showed off his yoga talents by stretching in front of the judge (or maybe he was just bored)—but whatever, it worked, and he won the blue!
Amanda Giles took over Tawny’s handling from her mom and made a great comeback showing second place. Third place went to last year’s #8 hound, Basset Hound GCH Topsfield-Sanchu Eenie Meenie Miney, and fourth to Irish Wolfhound Ch Kuriann Of First Avenue.
The Toy group has 23 breeds. It didn’t have as many upsets at the breed level, but still had plenty of surprises. Classie (GCh Marlex Classic Red Glare), last year’s #3 dog of all breeds and the top-winning Miniature Pinscher of all time, strutted to first place under experienced all-breed judge Keke Kahn.
Classie is a big favorite because she never stops showing. She’s the queen of all she observes, and the only one of her team who doesn’t seem to have a humble bone in her body. Her owner and handler, Armando Angelbello, is one of the most gracious big winners we know, so it was a thrill to see the team get their due!
We had expected her main challenge to come from Roger the Pekingese (GCh Yakee Easily Persuaded), but in the end he only persuaded the judge into a fourth place, behind the stylish Cavalier King Charles Spaniel GCH Grantilley Galaxy Moon (and wow, he was gorgeous!) and the too-cute-for-words Pomeranian GCH CR Chase What Matters.
One of the night’s biggest upsets wasn’t in who won or lost, but in the last-minute replacement of the Non-Sporting group judge due to health. Jacqueline Stacy stepped in and looked like she was more than ready.
Our top two picks finished one and two: First went to the impressive white Standard Poodle Ally (GCH Brighton Lakeridge Encore), who started the day by besting what was arguably the toughest breed entry at the show. This is Ally’s retirement show; she will be trading her fancy coif in favor of a sportier short trim in the near future. Tenzin (GCH Kan Sing’s Tenzin) the Tibetan Spaniel was second, a big win for this often-overlooked breed. Rumor has it that this was Tenzin’s retirement bow.
Pretty much the entire dog world expected to see Swagger the Old English Sheepdog (GCH Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect) swagger away with the blue. Only it didn’t happen. First instead went to a breed that has never won the group at Westminster: the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Coco (GCH Riverside Telltail Coco Posh).
We loved handler Lois DeMers’ description of her plans to celebrate: Go back to the hotel and throw the Frisbee for Coco down the hall, and “hope the neighbors aren’t bothered.” We doubt any of the neighbors will be bothered by this celebration! It was a first-time group win for owner Dina Planche, who couldn’t make the show because she had surgery that morning.
Check back later today to hear more about Tuesday’s winners.
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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.