We know it’s crazy to try predicting winners of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. With an entry of 2,684 dogs entered in 192 breeds and varieties — well, good luck. But that never stopped dog show followers from trying. So here are our Westminster predictions for Monday, Feb. 16, when Hounds, Toys, Non-Sporting, and Herding dogs will be judged. (Note: The abbreviation GCH stands for Grand Champion.)
The battle is likely to be between last year’s winner, the Bloodhound Nathan (GCH Flessner’s International S’Cess) and one of several challengers, led by the 13-inch Beagle Miss P (GCH Tashtins Lookin For Trouble) and the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, Wilson (GCH M&M’s Fear The Beard).
Afghan Hound results at Westminster are not always kind to the top winners, as many judges have opted for less known but equally nice dogs in recent years. This year, the one to beat is Matrix (GCH Tells Matrix Reloaded), but look out for Rachel (GCH Criston Enchanted), Ryder (GCH Exlysta Aries Ciel Noir), or Wally (GCH Thaon’s Wallstreet) if he makes an appearance.
And don’t discount the Ridgeback (GCH Rachel Raquel Welch Of Malabo), Greyhound (GCH Grandcru Giaconda), or the Otterhound — especially if DUI (GCH Aberdeens Under The Influence) makes an appearance. Nathan the Bloodhound was 2014’s top Hound, winning 87 Hound Groups and 24 Best in Shows. But the others weren’t exactly slackers: Miss P won 19 BIS, Brazen 14, Matrix 17, and Wilson two.
With last year’s dominating Toy, Classie the MinPin, retired, the field is open for some heavyweight hitters this year, led by the Pomeranian Danny (CH Hitimes What The Inferno) and the Chihuahua Sonnito (GCH Sonnus Filho (Sanchez). These two ended 2014 almost in a tie, with Danny just edging out Sonnito with 28 BIS to 27. Danny, who is ranked the No. 2 dog of all breeds after the first month of 2015, will still have to win the breed first, and he’ll be challenged there by fellow Pom hard-hitter Spanky (GCH CH Starfire’s Spank Me Hard Call Me Crazy).
But it’s very possible the top two may be displaced by a lower-ranked dog, namely the Papillon Jackson (GCH Involo The King Of Pop), with a “mere” 18 BIS wins, and the Pug JJ (GCH CH Hill Country’s Tag I’m It), with eight top awards. The Pug will face tough competition in his breed from GCH Caper’s Sirius Endeavor, but should be a contender if he makes it to group. Last year’s top Shih Tzu, GCH Hallmark Jolei Rocket Power (winner of 16 BIS awards), should prove a tough contender if he makes an appearance, as should the Affenpinscher. And never, ever discount the Pekingese at Westminster!
This group has been soundly dominated over the last year by the black Standard Poodle Flame (GCH Dawin Hearts On Fire), but there’s a Shar-Pei named Tinsel (GCH Shine’s Deck The Halls) who’s been steadily rising and may prove an apt challenger. Flame won 47 BIS last year, Tinsel seven.
Almost any other choice will fall in the upset category, but look for the Xoloitzcuintli Armani (GCH Bayshore Georgio Armani, winner of nine BIS in 2014), to be in the final group, as well as the Keeshond Cubit (GCH Skyline’s Unit Of Measure, also 7 BIS wins) and whichever one of three top Bichon Frise makes it out of the breed. Keep an eye on the Bulldog, French Bulldog, and Tibetan Spaniel as well.
The Old English Sheepdog has been an (almost) unstoppable force since he won reserve BIS from the classes at Westminster two years ago. Swagger (GCH Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect) won 88 BIS awards last year to park him at No. 2 dog of all breeds. And he won 147 Herding groups to get there — as a point of reference, most dogs can’t go to many more shows than 170 a year, assuming they go to every show date available.
So Swagger is the one to beat. But he is beatable. Challenging him will be the Puli Charlotte GCH Cordmaker Topsy Turvey (winner of 15 BIS); the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Coco (GCH Riverside Telltail Coco Posh, who did beat Swagger for the No. 1 spot at last year’s Westminster); the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Etta (GCH Coventry Just A Little Crush); and the current top dog of all breeds in 2015 so far, the German Shepherd Rumor (GCh Lockenhaus’ Rumor Has It V Kenlyn). Watch for the Bouvier, Shetland Sheepdog, and Bearded Collie to also be in the mix.
That’s it for Monday judging. If it’s anything like most Westminsters, some of the favorites will be beaten in the breed ring by courageous (or crazy) judges who dare point to a lesser-known dog and handler. And that’s what keeps it interesting.
Monday’s four winners will return to join Tuesday’s Sporting, Working, and Terrier group winners to compete for Best in Show Tuesday night — a night on which the dreams for one dog will be realized and others will be relegated to “we tried our best.” And at Westminster, that’s all you can do.
Follow the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Facebook for more updates, and we’ll keep you posted on Dogster. You can watch live streaming of all breed judging at westminsterkennelclub.org and on the official 2015 Westminster Show App. The show will air live Monday night on CNBC from 8 to 11 p.m. ET (5 to 8 p.m. PT) and Tuesday night on USA from 8 to 11 p.m. ET (5 to 8 p.m. PT). See your local TV listings for rebroadcasting details. The Masters Agility Championship at Westminster airs Sunday, Feb. 15, from noon to 2 p.m. (9 to 11 a.m. PT) on Fox Sports.
Read more about the 2014 and the 2015 Westminster dog show:
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.