Westminster 2020: What to Expect Tonight

If you’re not overly familiar with dog shows, they can be a little confusing.   Here’s what you need to know.

Dogs are generally bred for a certain historical purpose like herding livestock, retrieving birds or other prey during a hunt, or pulling a sled through the snow.  The American Kennel Club groups breeds by what their purpose is:  Hound, Toy, Terrier, Sporting, Non-Sporting, Herding, and Working Groups.

Over the daytime hours on Sunday and Monday, individual breed competitions were held.  A breed competition means that all dogs in a particular breed, such as all of the Chow Chows entered into the show, are brought together.  The judge has the difficult job of choosing the Best in Breed, or the dog who most closely demonstrates the breed standard.  A breed standard is a description of what the ideal dog of this breed would look like and act like.  So, one dog is chosen from each breed to represent the breed in group judging.

Each group has about 25 – 30 breeds, and all of the dogs in a group are brought into the ring together.  The judge inspects each dog, looking at things like over/under bite, fur quality and length, size and shape, temperament, and even how the dog carries his/her tail.

Interestingly, the dogs are not competing against each other because the standards are different for each breed.  Each dog is compared to his/her own standard, and the judge must choose the dog that is closest to its description in its breed standard.  The dog who most closely represents his/her ideal is then named Best in Group.

Tonight, the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding Groups will be judged.  The winning dogs will come back tomorrow night to compete in the Best in Show ring, along with the Group Winners named tomorrow night.

For what it’s worth, here are my picks for group winners.  Keep in mind, I haven’t been right yet!

Hounds: American English Coonhound
Toy: Pomeranian
Non-Sporting: Chow Chow
Herding: Border Collie
Sporting: Irish Water Spaniel
Working: Rottweiler
Terriers: Welsh Terrier

Good luck to all the competitors!

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