The turkey’s been sliced to sandwich size. The Christmas sales have started. And the 2014 National Dog Show has crowned a new king!
The Kennel Club of Philadelphia, host of the National Dog Show, has been around since the late 1800s, making it one of the oldest dog shows in America. It’s one of the last benched shows, which means dogs must be present for spectators to see all day.
Benched shows used to means the dog had to be on a long bench all day long, but the National Dog Show uses a concept called “soft benching,” which means the dogs can be in their own crates, surrounded by their pals, and they have more freedom to go on strolls around the show. An estimated 15,000 spectators showed up to see the contenders up close and personal. And an estimated 30 million more saw them from home on television.
The day started early with breed judging, with only the Best of Breed winners advancing to their respective competitions. That’s when things heated up.
In the Hound group, we were pleased to see many of our predicted dogs in the final cut, which included the smooth Saluki, Ali, and Ibizan Hound, Magnolia. We were also pleased to see a true American breed, the Treeing Walker Coonhound, GCh Cherry Creek Confetti, get the nod for fourth place. By the way, the letters GCh stand for Grand Champion, and you’ll see them in front of most top winners’ names.
In third place was one of our picks, Chelsea the Scottish Deerhound (GCh Foxcliffe Chelsea Piers). Both dogs were shown at breed level by Angela Lloyd, who had to find a substitute handler for the Treeing Walker for group. Looks like she made a good choice! The judge’s choice for second was the 15-inch Beagle, GCh Pun Kotzky Treasure Island. Our predicted winner, Nathan the Bloodhound (GCh Flessner’s International S’cess), emerged victorious as the Hound group winner!
Also as we predicted, the Working group was a smackdown between the No. 2 and 3 Working dogs, the Akita, Trader, and the Samoyed, Bogey. Trader (GCh CR – Wicca’s Trade Secret) wins the “Best Dog Just Being a Dog” award for bringing his individual exam to a standstill when he decided to sit and scratch while the judge and handler just had to wait. You got an itch, you gotta scratch it!
Despite Trader winning the crowd’s heart, Bogey (GCh Pebbles Run Play It Again Ham) won the judge’s vote, with Trader placing second. Third went to a Bernese Mountain Dog, Ch TallPines Life of the Party, and fourth to a Standard Schnauzer, GCh Mistic’s Longfellow Serenade. Other finalists included the Portuguese Water Dog and Cane Corso. The Komondor wins our award for “Best Twerking by a Mop.”
The Toy group brought our winner for “Best Dogs Behaving Badly” award, which goes to the Miniature Pinscher, Timmy. Leave it to a MinPin to duck out of his lead and take off on his own to the center of the ring, right when the Cavalier was being gaited! Of course, give him credit for giving himself up — not usually in the MinPin repertoire!
The Toy group finalists were the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Affenpinscher, Toy Fox Terrier, Pug, Pekingese, Havanese, and Japanese Chin. This group was another in which we thought the choice was between two dogs. And we were right! First went to the Affenpinscher, Ben, and second to the Pekingese, General Tso (wonder if he baits him with chicken …).
These two are so closely matched in quality that the next time they met right after the National, the General emerged the victor. In third place was GCh Sirius Endeavor, a Pug from Georgia. We loved seeing the fourth place choice, the Toy Fox Terrier, GCh Ultraquest Go For the Gold, NAJ. Not only is this one of the less appreciated members of the Toy group, but this TFT has an agility title (NAJ, which stands for Novice Agility Jumpers) at the end of his name, and that gets him extra points in our eyes.
The Sporting Group was the scene of what we considered the biggest upset of the day. Our predicted winner, Blaze the English Setter, No. 15 of all breeds, walked away ribbonless, while our “Best Underdog” award went to Sadie the Gordon Setter (GCh Sandpiper’s Shore Why Knot), who ran off with the blue. In fact, this was Sadie’s very first group win! Her handler, Suzie Schafer, said winning the group there was “such a surprise, and a tremendous honor,” adding, “I can only dream that she will have a fantastic career, and this win will help start her off.” We’re pretty sure we’ll see a lot more of Sadie in the winner’s circle. But first she needs to run up those stairs Rocky-style.
Second went to another lady, a Field Spaniel named GCh Sandscape Pardon Me Boys. We love seeing dogs from this rare breed do so well! Third went to one of America’s favorite breeds, the Golden Retriever, Whiskey, GCh Forever’s All Jacked Up. GCh Doc’s Greyborn North Star of Acadia, a Weimaraner, finished up with a fourth.
We’re feeling smug about our Non-Sporting group predictions, at least for first. But let’s start with the finalists: The judge called out the Coton de Tulear (in this breed’s first appearance here), Dalmatian, Xoloitzcuintli, Chinese Shar-Pei, French Bulldog, Schipperke, and Bulldog. First went to our pick, Freda the French Bulldog (GCh Diva’s Bastille My Heart).
And second went to our favorite unpronounceable breed, the Xoloitzcuintli GCh Bayshore Georgio Armani. Okay, we admit we chickened out of any predictions beyond that. But third went to the Dalmatian GCh Merry Go Round Coach Master (and darn, how did we miss that?) and fourth to the Chinese Shar-Pei with the near-unpronounceable name, Ch Tzo Wen Xiao Mai’s Rhythm of Rio. I hope they call him Rhythm. Or Rio.
The Herding group was home to our “Best Dog Imitating a Hovercraft” winner, which went to the Puli as he floated across the floor. Other finalists were the Bearded Collie, Rough Collie, Briard, Pyrenean Shepherd, and Shetland Sheepdog. We were reluctant to lay a bet on the Herding group, but we see one of our breeds to watch, the bouncing Bearded Collie, won!
In hindsight, it’s no surprise since Zack (GCh Dunhill Steeler Nation) has been on a winning streak as of late! We see more big wins in this dog’s future. Second went to the blue merle Australian Shepherd, GCh Legacy’s Power Play; third to our other breed to watch, the Shetland Sheepdog, GCh Acadia’s Stage Presence; and fourth to the Bouvier des Flandres, GCh Obvious Sonic Boom.
In the Terrier group, we predicted a standoff between Norfolk Terrier GCh Yarrow Venerie Ticket to Ride (Rider) and American Staffordshire Terrier Flash (GCh An Garda Deja Vue Looking at You). They both made the finals, along with the Smooth Fox Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, and Norwich Terrier. We were close. Rider finished third, and Flash finished fourth. Second went to the feisty Scottish Terrier, GCh McVan’s To Russia With Love, currently ranked the No. 3 terrier in the country, and first place went to Bradley the Smooth Fox Terrier, GCh Absolutely Signature. To be fair, we did say to watch for both of these breeds!
Finally the seven finalists — Sadie the Gordon Setter, Nathan the Bloodhound, Zack the Bearded Collie, Bogey the Samoyed, Bradley the Smooth Fox Terrier, Freda the French Bulldog, and Ben the Affenpinscher — entered the ring for Best in Show. Judge Edd Bivin is one of the world’s most respected judges, and he gave each dog a thorough examination, comparing each to the ideal for their breed. Each dog showed to perfection, although the Bloodhound added a little extra by kissing his handler on the mouth when she bent to fix his front, then turning to try to greet the judge as well — here’s a dog that knows how to play to the crowd and suck up to the judge!
In the end, only two can get ribbons: the Reserve Best in Show and Best in Show. The names of the winners rang out:
“Reserve Best in Show this evening is the Sammy Dog!”
“And the Best in Show winner is the Bloodhound!”
Nathan finally got to give and get all the kisses he wanted from his handler (which is also his breeder and owner, Heather Helmuth). He’s cemented his position at the country’s top Hound and is hot on the trail of even more titles.
Read more about dog shows:
Interested in breed profiles? Find dozens of them here.
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.