February 9-11, 2020 - The 144th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The show is “benched,” meaning the dogs must be on public display to ticket holders throughout the competition.
Dogs are invited to compete based on strict entry requirements, including how many other dogs they’ve defeated in breed competitions. Non-invited dogs can also compete if they have won a certain number of major dog show awards.
Breeds are categorized into groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding.
The dogs compete for Best in Breed, then move up to Best in Group, then compete for the grand prize of Best in Show.
Wire fox terrier breed dogs have won the most Best in Show awards – 15 as of 2021.
Forty-seven breed varieties have won Best in Show awards, as of 2021.
Seven dogs have won more than one Best in Show. The most recent was an English springer spaniel named Chinoe’s Adamant James, who won in 1971 and 1972.
1870s - The Westminster Kennel Club is started by a group of men who frequently meet at the Westminster Hotel in New York and are interested in dogs.
1876 - The WKC decides to put on an annual dog show to improve breeds of dogs and to raise public interest.
May 8-10, 1877 - The WKC presents the First Annual New York Bench Show of Dogs. The show is held at Gilmore’s Gardens at Madison Avenue and 26th Street in New York City. The show is so popular with the public, it is extended an extra day.
1888 - The date of the show is moved from May to February.
1907 - The show presents its first Best in Show award, to a smooth fox terrier named Ch. Warren Remedy. He also wins in 1908 and 1909.
1921 - The show changes from four days to three days.
1923 - Best in Show is not awarded while the American Kennel Club works to put standards and regulations in place to ensure uniformity.
1941 - The show becomes a two-day event.
1984 - The biggest dog to win Best in Show is Seward’s Blackbeard, a 155-pound Newfoundland.
1988 - The smallest dog to win Best in Show is Great Elms Prince Charming II, a 4.5-pound Pomeranian.
2009 - Best in Show is a Sussex spaniel, Ch Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee, aka Stump. At 10, he is the oldest winner in show history.
2013 - GCH Banana Joe V Tani Kazari, aka Banana Joe or Joey, becomes the first affenpinscher to win Best in Show. Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect, aka Swagger, an English sheepdog, is named Reserve Best in Show, a runner-up award reintroduced for the 2013 show after not having been awarded since 1925.
2014 - Sky, a female wire fox terrier, wins Best in Show. This is the 14th time that a wire fox terrier has won Best in Show, more than any other breed.
August 11, 2015 - The WKC announces the addition of The Masters Obedience Championship to the 2016 show. This is the first time an obedience competition is a part of the Westminster Dog Show and, like the agility competition, mixed breed dogs will be eligible.