Facts & Figures
Forest and Stream magazine in 1877: “…the dog show held in the city last week was a success … a magnificent triumph for the dogs and for the projectors of the show … (people) representing as much of the culture, wealth and fashion of the town … That such a collection of dogs was ever gotten together before in any country we very much doubt …”
New York Times, May 1877: The first annual New York bench show of dogs is a great success …. the crush was so great that the streets outside were blocked with livery carriages, and the gentlemen who served as ticket sellers could not make change fast enough … the crush … began almost at the opening hour and continued until the close last night …
- America’s Dog Show has its roots in the 1870s when a group of sporting gentlemen would gather in their favorite hotel bar near New York’s Union Square to trade stories about their shooting accomplishments and the abilities of their dogs in the field. They decided one of those nights to put on a dog show, and they decided to name their group after the hotel. The Westminster Kennel Club was born, as its by-laws stated, “…to increase the interest in dogs, and thus improve the breeds, and to hold an Annual Dog Show in the city of New York …”
- The Westminster Kennel Club, established in 1877, is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs.
- Westminster pre-dates the invention of the light bulb, the automobile, basketball, and the establishment of the World Series in baseball.
- The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, first held in 1877, is America’s second-longest continuously held sporting event, behind only the Kentucky Derby. It has survived power outages, snowstorms, a national depression, two World Wars, and a tugboat strike in NYC, and most recently, a pandemic.
- Westminster pre-dates the founding of the governing body of the sport, the American Kennel Club, which was established in 1884.
- In 1884, the Westminster Kennel Club became the first member club of the American Kennel Club. The American Fox Terrier Club became the second in 1886, but it was not until 1897 that another all-breed club became a member (Rhode Island Kennel Club).
- In the first show, there were entries in 35 breeds and a Miscellaneous Class, which included a dog described as a “cross between a St. Bernard and a Russian Setter” and a dog named Nellie, “born with two legs only.”
- The proceeds from the fourth day of Westminster’s first show in 1877 were donated to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to establish a home for stray and disabled animals.
- Some interesting names showed up in the catalogs in those early years. In the first show, there were two Staghounds listed as being from the late General George Custer’s pack and two Deerhounds that had been bred by the Queen of England. In 1889, the Czar of Russia is listed as the breeder of a Siberian Wolfhound entered, and the following year, one of the entries is a Russian Wolfhound whose listed owner was the Emperor of Germany. Beginning in the 1890s, Jacob Ruppert, owner of the New York Yankees, became a familiar face at Westminster with his St. Bernards.
- Since Westminster held its first show, 12 states have joined the union and there have been 27 men elected president. One of them, Herbert Hoover, attended Westminster after his time in office.
- In 1924, Westminster became the first AKC member club to include Best In Show judging under the new AKC rules for inter-breed competition.
- The first telecast of Westminster was in 1948, three years before “I Love Lucy” premiered.
- The dog show has been held in all four editions of Madison Square Garden and is currently the only organization that has. Westminster has been held at Madison Square Garden in all but eight years of its existence.
- The Empire State Building began honoring Westminster by lighting its tower in the Westminster colors of purple and gold in 2004.
- Two dogs have won Best In Show at both Westminster and Crufts in England, each of them winning at the English show before coming to America: the Lakeland Terrier, Ch. Stingray of Derryabah (Crufts 1967, WKC 1968) and the Kerry Blue Terrier, Ch. Torums Scarf Michael (Crufts 2000, WKC 2003).
- Only one time has the offspring of a Best In Show winner duplicated the feat. In 2000, the English Springer Spaniel Ch. Salilyn N’ Erin’s Shameless repeated the 1993 BIS accomplishment of her sire, Ch. Salilyn’s Condor.
- Two Best In Show winners, Norwich Terriers, had the same sire: 1994’s Ch. Chidley’s Willum the Conqueror and 1998’s Ch. Fairewood Frolic were offspring (half brother/sister) of Ch. Royal Rock Don of Chidley.
- In 2009, Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee, a Sussex Spaniel, became the oldest dog to capture Best In Show at 10 years, 2 months and 9 days of age in 2009. The youngest winner was the Rough Collie, Laund Loyalty of Bellhaven, who captured the award in 1929 at the age of exactly 9 months.
- The Masters Agility Championship held its inaugural trial in 2014 as part of Westminster Week.
- The Wire Fox Terrier, GCHB King Arthur Van Foliny Home was crowned Best in Show in 2019 increasing the breed's record of most WKC Best in Show wins to fifteen.
- The Standard Poodle, GCHP Stone Run Afternoon Tea, became the fifth member of her breed to capture Best in Show in 2020.
- The Masters Obedience Championship’s new format in 2020 creates a High in Trial winner to receive The Streicher Cup.
- The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was held, for the first time in its history, outside of Manhattan. The 145th events were held in June at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York, 2021.