10 of the Most Popular Dog Breeds at the Westminster Dog Show
All dogs are celebrated at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, but some breeds are more favored than others. The event is one of America’s longtime traditions, dating back to the first show in 1877. (The only older sporting event in the United States is the Kentucky Derby, running for one year longer.) The most prestigious award given at the multi-day event is arguably the honor of Best in Show, given to the dog that passes a litany of tests for obedience, appearance, and more.
The Westminster competition didn’t always award the Best in Show distinction. Although 2017 was the 141st year of the competition, this marked only the 110th Best in Show award. All of the canine entries are whittled down within seven distinct groups, including hound, toy, non-sporting, herding, sporting, working, and terrier. The winner from each of those groups then competes for the overall Best in Show. In 2017, a German Shepherd named Rumor won the title, only the second German Shepherd to do so in history.
As records show, not all breeds are created equal when it comes to claiming the top prize. There have been 47 different breeds that won the Best in Show distinction over the years, but just a few have several repeat wins over time. Here are the top 10 breeds that have had the most repeat victories in Westminster dog show history.
10. Sealyham terrier
As we’ll see going through the list, the first several breeds are tied with four wins throughout history. The Sealyham terrier starts off this list. The breed’s most recent win was in 1977. It is generally alert and outgoing with a sense of humor. As its name implies, it’s part of the terrier group. This particular breed hasn’t cracked the top 100 on the AKC’s popular-breed list, perhaps because it hasn’t won the show in decades.
9. Standard poodle
The standard poodle also has won Best in Show four times, most recently in 1989. Poodles are part of the non-sporting group at the show. As the American Kennel Club points out, the types of poodles (standard, miniature, and toy) only refer to their size. At all shows, poodles are judged according to the same criteria. Poodles have a well-earned reputation for their proud demeanor, but owners will likely attest they’re also playful and incredibly smart. Plenty of people love them, too. The AKC ranks the standard poodle as the No. 8 most popular dog breed.
8. Doberman pinscher
Dobermans originate from Germany and are known to be fearless, loyal, and alert. This breed, part of the working group, has won Best in Show four times. It’s also the No. 14 most popular breed, according to the AKC.
Also part of the working group, boxers are known to be bright, fun-loving, and active canines. The breed’s most recent of four total wins was in 1970, but it’s still the No. 10 most popular breed, according to the AKC.
The Pekingese is the smallest of the most popular breeds on this list and the only member of the toy group to win Best in Show four times. These dogs, which originated in China, are affectionate, long-haired canines. They’re also said to be regal in manner, which could speak to their original home in the Imperial Palace at Peking before the British looted them in 1860.
5. Airedale terrier
Although they’ve won four times, Airedales haven’t won Best in Show at Westminster since 1933. But they continue to fall in the middle of the pack in terms of overall popularity from the AKC. These particular terriers are often characterized as clever, friendly, and courageous — essentially making up for their small stature with big hearts.
4. Smooth fox terrier
Although not incredibly popular, according to the AKC’s rankings, this terrier breed has won four times, as well. Smooth fox terriers are known for their friendly, independent, and amusing dispositions. If you own one, you’ve probably realized their desire to dig up everything is an innate trait. As the AKC explains, they’ll probably dig holes everywhere unless they’re specifically trained not to.
3. English springer spaniel
The top three most popular dog breeds break away from the rest of the pack, in terms of number of wins. The English springer spaniel is the first to do so, with six Best in Show titles over Westminster’s history. We take a break from the terrier group with this breed from the sporting group, known for its friendly, playful, and obedient attitude. Originally bred as hunting dogs, these spaniels require lots of activity.
2. Scottish terrier
These are the dogs known as “Scotties.” They unsurprisingly hail from Scotland, where they were originally bred to hunt foxes and badgers. Scottish terriers have won Best in Show at Westminster eight times, most recently in 2010. These terriers are known to be independent, confident, and spirited.
1. Wire fox terrier
If you haven’t noticed a remarkable favoritism among the terrier group at Westminster, you aren’t paying attention. The wire fox terrier has risen above the rest, winning a breakaway total of 14 times over the show’s history. The most recent win was in 2014. But the victories span all the way back to 1915, showing the breed has remained a favorite contender for more than a century. According to AKC, they’re known to be gregarious, alert, and confident — attributes sure to help them in the show.
Former Westminster announcer David Frei once told the Associated Press why he thought terriers drew such favor with judges. “Terriers were bred to cause a little bit of trouble,” he said. “I think that helps them stand out and draw attention in the ring.”