February marks the beginning for the three best known, and biggest, dog shows in the world. It all begins at Madison Square Garden in New York City with the Westminster Kennel Club Show. Birmingham, England’s Crufts, undeniably the world’s biggest, comes next in March, and the World Dog Show finishes the run off in May. All of these shows are live streamed online and Westminster is televised as well.
Westminster Dog Show is the oldest. Founded in 1877, it is the only one that happens in North America. It was first held in Manhattan at Madison Square Garden’s predecessor, Gilmore’s Garden. At its first show it boasted an entry of 1,201 dogs. It began seven years before the American Kennel Club was created. It is the second oldest continuously run sporting event in the United States. The first is the Kentucky Derby, which began the year before Westminster.
In 2013, Westminster had its largest entry in fifteen years with over 2, 700 dogs competing. This included 61 golden retrievers, 54 Labrador retrievers, and 50 Rhodesian ridgebacks. There were entries in over 187 breeds and from all fifty states and out of country. Best in Show went to the affenpinscher, Grand Champion Banana Joe V Tani Kazari. The Westminster show is always held in February although the dates in February sometimes get moved around to accommodate other events at the Gardens. If you missed it, Animal Planet often reruns the program.
Crufts is always held early in March at the NEC in Birmingham. Named after its founder, Charles Crufts, it began with an entry of 2,437 spread over 36 breeds in 1891. This year it will be on March 7-10th. More than 25,000 dogs are entered. More than 2,000 of the entered dogs are coming from overseas. Although it is fifteen years younger than Westminster, it is generally considered the largest and no other show usually comes even close to its entries. Unlike Westminster, Crufts embraces all aspects of dog ownership and canine sports. Although the conformation show is a huge part of it there are also obedience and agility competitions. An area is devoted to displaying all of the breeds eligible for registration by the United Kingdom`s Kennel Club. Awards are also given out for Humanitarian Action of the Year, a Gameskeeper class, Police Dog Team Rescue dogs and Friends for Life service dogs. It is like no other dog show in the world.
The World Show is held in May. It moves around to different countries belonging to the Federation Cynologique International (FCI). Last year it was held in Austria and this year it will be in Budapest, Hungary. The American Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club, the Kennel Club (UK), and the Australian Kennel Club do not belong to the FCI. Most other national kennel clubs around the world are governed by FCI rules. It is the newest of the three and only began in the twentieth century. Because it moves around, the entry can vary widely but it is usually somewhere between Westminster and Crufts in size.
Although Australia does not ever host one of the big three, they do have their own version. Known as the Royal Shows, these are a series of large shows held across Australia over the course of the year. Locations include Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, and Brisbane. The number of dogs who enter can vary from hundreds to thousands, depending on where in Australia the show is held.
If you are interested, make sure to check out these shows and the winners as they air.