By Stephanie Finne (Guest Contributor)
Today is the first day of the 138th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show! Dogs are judged on breed standards, which include general appearance, movement, temperament, and specific physical traits such as height and weight, coat, colors, eye color and shape, ear shape and placement, feet, tail, and more.
According to the Westminster Kennel Club, this is how the judging works: At Westminster, the first level of competition is in the Breed or Variety. There, one judge officiates over an entry that consists of dogs of only one breed. The entry may be only a few dogs or it could be many dogs (more than 40). The judge begins by judging the class dogs and selecting a Winner’s Dog (WD) and then a Winner’s Bitch (WB). Those dogs advance into the Best of Breed competition against the entered champions. From these dogs, the judge ultimately selects one as Best of Breed (BOB) or Best of Variety (BOV). The judge will also select a Best of Opposite Sex (BOS) winner, the Best of Winners (BOW) award, a Select Dog and a Select Bitch (see Grand Championship points above). Depending on the number of dogs in the entry, the judge may also, at their discretion, select winners of Awards of Merit for additional dogs of outstanding quality.
The BOB or BOV winner advances into the next level of competition, the Group. Currently, 190 breeds and varieties are recognized by the American Kennel Club and those are divided into seven different groups (Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, Herding).
There, the Group judge examines all the dogs and chooses four placements, 1st through 4th. As before, only the Group winner advances. This takes place in each of the seven groups so that there are seven Group winners that advance into the final round of competition, Best in Show.
In the Best In Show competition, the judge will examine all seven finalists, first naming the Reserve Best In Show winner and then revealing their selection for the ultimate prize, Best In Show.
It takes a lot of time and training to show a dog at Westminster or any dog show. Along with training (like in the photo above) and weekly grooming, many of the dogs get regular sessions with a massage therapist and a chiropractor. To learn more about canine sports massage, join Level 2, Sports Massage at RMSAAM!