Special Report

Every Dog to Win Top Prize at Westminster Since 1970

Each year, thousands of dogs (and their owners) gather in New York City for the chance to strut their stuff and earn the title of best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show — one of the most prestigious awards in the world for show dogs.

Dog shows exist to evaluate a dog’s potential to contribute to its breed, so the Westminster Kennel Club judges against a “written standard describing the ideal dog” of its kind. The entrant that comes the closest to that standard is declared the winner.

Dogs that win best in breed then move onto group competitions, where they compete against other winners from seven groups — sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, and herding. The seven contestants that win best in group are then eligible for the top prize of best in show.

Show dogs tend to have elaborate, flowery names like “Afterall Painting The Sky” or “Whisperwind On A Carousel,” but these are often shortened to common, shorter names like “Sky” or “Peter.”
Celebrating previous winners and dogs in general, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the Westminster Kennel Club’s website to find every Westminster best in show winner since 1970.

In the show’s history, 48 different breeds have taken home the top prize, though certain types seem more likely to be selected. Judges tend to select terriers as the best in show — these diminutive dogs have won best in show 47 of a possible 112 shows. These smaller dogs may be popular on the awards circuit, but they are not favored by the average American dog owner. These are America’s most popular dog breeds.

Many dog owners prefer purebreds because they have a specific size, skillset, and disposition for owners to expect, while mutts can be something of a toss-up. However, they do come with drawbacks as well. Some breeds have specific health issues that are passed down through generations. These are the shortest and longest living dog breeds.

Click here to see every Westminster dog show winner in the last 50 years.