How To Get Invited To Westminster Dog Show

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the premier event for show dogs, and it has a rich history to boot. It’s one of America’s oldest traditions, having started in 1877. Only the Kentucky Derby has been around longer. What we’re saying is the Westminster dog show is a special event with a rich history.

Westminster dog show

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show dates to 1877. | Michael Nagle/Getty Images

However, getting into the show, which happens each February, takes a lot more than showing up with your dog in tow. Being one of the select few dogs to make it inside the ring takes a lot of work before the show even starts. This is how it’s done.

How to enter the Westminster dog show

The road to the big stage at Westminster is a long and arduous one, and it’s by invitation only.

First, dogs compete against other animals of the same breed at local at small shows around the United States.

Then the winners represent their breed groups (toy, sporting, non-sporting, herding, working, terrier and hound groups) at progressively larger shows. The dogs who exhibit the breed standards the best move up the ladder.

Dogs with the most lower-level wins or top finishes earn points that get them closer to the big show. However, the Westminster dog show is invitation only, and it’s limited to about 3,200 dogs, according to The Nest, so it’s tough to make the cut.

Two reasons your dog won’t make it to Westminster

Westminster dog show

Spayed and neutered dogs and non-purebreds won’t make it to Westminster. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

Even if you have a beautiful and obedient dog, two things ensure you’ll never make it to the Westminster dog show.

1. It’s not purebred

Dog shows exist to show the best of the best by breed. German shepherds compete against German shepherds to see who’s the best in appearance, agility, and obedience. If you own a mutt, it won’t qualify for any dog show that feeds into Westminster.

2. Your dog is neutered or spayed.

Even if you own a purebred animal, it won’t get to the Westminster dog show without having the ability to breed. That means it has to have working parts below the waist, so to speak.

Here’s what to do if you want to win

Westminster dog show

The Westminster judges seem to prefer a handful of dog breeds. | Andrew Burton/Getty Images

So you have a purebred dog with its reproductive organs intact. That’s good, but there are a couple of steps to take if you want to win the big prize.

One, you probably want to own a male dog. Males competing at the Westminster dog show outnumber females by nearly a 2:1 ratio, according to Quartz.

Also, female winners usually retire from competition to breed and produce more potential show dogs. Males winners, meanwhile, can breed and immediately return to competition.

Plus, the prime breeding and competing ages overlap, which puts females at a disadvantage. When you put it all together, males win Best in Show nearly twice as often, 71 times against 39, as of the 2017 show.

Not only that, but a handful of breeds seem to be more popular with judges. The wire fox terrier is by far the most popular breed at the Westminster dog show. It’s the only one to win Best in Show more than 10 times.

Other terriers, English springer spaniels, Pekingese, boxers, Doberman pinschers, and poodles have multiple Best in Show wins over the years. However, some of the most popular dog breeds have never won at Westminster.

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