Westminster Kennel Club dog show is the dog world’s Superbowl, Academy Awards and State of the Union, all rolled in to one glittering, historic and dramatic event. This year from Saturday, Feb. 8 through Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, the best of the best dogs from around the world descend on Manhattan to compete in agility, obedience and conformation contests.
Westminster Dog Show 2020
Westminster Kennel Club’s dog show was established by sportsmen arguing about which of their hunting dogs was the prettiest. And every year since 1877 it’s been held to settle the same basic question. Every one of the 2608 dogs entered is judged against a written breed standard. The “standards” of excellence were originally written and are fiercely guarded by the breeds’ enthusiasts. The American Kennel Club (AKC) administers the show held under its rules.
The AKC divides its 193 recognized dog breeds into seven “groups.” Sporting dogs are the breeds that were developed to point, flush and retrieve birds. Hound dogs are breeds designed to track or capture furred quarry from rabbits to wolves. Working dogs are the guardians and protectors, the rescuers and the sled-pullers. Terriers are the vermin-dispatchers and go-to-ground hunters of the canine world. Toy breeds represent the diminutive lap-sitting, couch-snuggling, pillow-hogging companion dogs descended over centuries in every nation of the globe. Non-sporting dogs are sort of a grab bag of breeds from the Standard Poodle to the French Bulldog.
Some of the breeds in this group were developed to serve a purpose that no longer exists, such as the Dalmatian’s job of trotting alongside a horse-drawn coach. Others, such as the Lowchen, have historically filled only the role of “man’s best friend.” Finally, the eponymous Herding dogs, whose long history working with mankind to move livestock helped define our species as much as their own. Best of breed winners compete in their respective groups, with the seven group winners going on to compete for the coveted Best in Show award.
Anyone who has tickets will be able to interact with dogs at their “benching areas,” organized by breed, each day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Pier 94. Different breeds will be shown each day over the course of the event.
Westminster Dog Show 2020: schedule
Agility competition takes place Saturday, Feb. 8 as 330 of the nation’s fastest, most accurate running dogs compete for $5000 in prize money.
Precision obedience work and creative “freestyle” competitions take place Sunday, Feb. 9. Best of breed judging for hounds and herding dogs will kick off the runup to Best in Show the same day.
Monday, Feb. 10 Terrier, Toy, and Non-Sporting breed judging takes place along with the start of Junior Showmanship competition for children ages 9 to 18.
The glam kicks up a notch Monday night when group judging begins at Madison Square Garden with the hound, toy, non-sporting and herding best of breed winners.
The final judging at Pier 94 is Tuesday, Feb. 11 for working and sporting breeds, along with more junior showmanship competition.
And the big finale at the Garden that night kicks off with juniors finals, followed by sporting, working and terrier groups and the long awaited, Best in Show.
For scheduling information click here.
For viewing at home, click here.
is the host of Pure Dog Talk. She is an AKC Breeder of Merit of German Wirehaired Pointers. Her eclectic background includes newspaper reporter, public speaker, audio driving tour scriptwriter, weekly dog show columnist and professional dog handler.