Let the show begin
In 1876, a group of hunters formed a club to show off the talents of their hunting dogs. They named it after the New York hotel where they met, the Westminster, calling it the Westminster Breeding Association.
That year, they helped put on their first dog show, in Philadelphia, as part of the celebration of America’s 100th anniversary, or centennial.
The dog show was so popular that the club decided to hold another one the next year. They changed their name to the Westminster Kennel Club.
In 1877, they moved the show to New York, where it has been held ever since.
The dog winning Best in Show is a celebrity. It visits all the major TV talk shows. Even though it is against the law to bring most dogs into New York restaurants, the Best in Show dog gets to dine at a fancy New York restaurant, Sardi’s, chowing down on meat served on a silver platter.
Playing with the dog
Showing dogs is a fun hobby. It can also be expensive. People often travel with their dogs all over the country, entering hundreds of shows.
Many families travel to shows together, with all the family members sharing the chores. Experts say people can build strong friendships in competitions.
Dogs enjoy themselves too. They might train for 10 to 20 minutes a day, just enough to keep it fun.
Paws for causes
Since 1877, the Westminster show has given some of its profits to charity. During the world wars, profits went to the American Red Cross to help with its war work. Last November, the Westminster Kennel Club donated money to help pets and people suffering after Hurricane Sandy. The club donates to groups providing therapy dogs and to animal shelters.
Best in Show dogs cheer people up at places such as children’s hospitals.