What makes Westminster so special?

What makes Westminster so special? We asked some experts to find out more.

What makes Westminster so special? It conjures up the same aura in the world of dog sports, particularly conformation, that The Masters does for golf or Wimbledon does in tennis.

So we asked an expert to try to figure it out.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (often abbreviated to WKC Dog Show) is the oldest dog show in the country, founded in 1877 (just two years after the Kentucky Derby began), and is held every year at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Until the AKC National Championship was established, the WKC Dog Show served as a de facto national championship for many years, similar to the historical status of the Rose Bowl throughout much of college football history.

[Want to know more about how dog shows work? See our explanatory guide here, and here to learn what the pros wish you knew.]

“Some of the best moments are those when the dogs are simply allowed to be dogs. I love strolling up to the handlers and groomers, politely asking about the breed and their background.”  Carol Bryant, President of the Dog Writers Association of America, said in a email to Dog O’Day.

“You can lay your hands on the dogs in most cases, and this is one of the coolest things about attending the benching portion.”

Bryant also runs the site Fidose of Reality, a canine health and wellness blog geared towards Cocker Spaniels in particular.

As the WKC says, “Originally, most shows were “benched” in some fashion, where the entered dogs were required to be in assigned areas (on benches) at all times when not being judged in the ring. This allowed for interaction of dogs and their owners with spectators and other owners and breeders as an educational process.”

Besides the WKC, the National Dog Show and the Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show are the only remaining benched shows left.

[Dog O’Day also reached out to longtime WKC announcer David Frei during the writing of this article, but didn’t get a response to our email by publishing time.]

Next: Ryan Reynolds' gin ready for WKC Dog Show

The 2020 WKC Dog Show will air on Fox Sports 1 on Monday, February 10 and Tuesday, February 11, both nights beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Viewers can also stream the broadcast on either the WKC app or the Fox Sports Go app.

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