The National Dog Show is an annual event in America that draws dog owners in from all over the country. The show features all recognized dog breeds and gives owners a chance to show off their prized purebreds in a contest that judges each dog per its breed standards. It’s a gala event that we all look forward to around the Thanksgiving holiday. If you’re not familiar with the National Dog Show, here are twenty interesting facts to bring you up to speed.
1. The National Dog Show divides contestants into one of seven groups
According to The Kennel Club of Philadelphia, seven groups exist for the National Dog Show. The event begins with dogs assigned to one of seven groups, depending on their breed classification. Groups include the Terrier Group, Toy Group, Working Group, Sporting Group, Non-Sporting Group, Hound Group, and Herding Group.
2. There are 194 AKC registered breeds and varieties of dogs
The National Dog show welcomes contestants from all 194 officially registered breeds. Each is an official breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. Every contestant gets funneled into the category that best represents their breed. This task involves judging each dog per the characteristics established as breed standards. It’s a stage where the dogs compete against one another. To qualify for admission as a contestant to the show, dogs must have official registration in one of the 209 officially recognized breeds, with verified proof of their purebred status.
3. Competition is stiff at the National Dog Show
Every pup registered for participation at the National Dog Show goes up against some stiff competition. Dogs in the seven groups must compete against one another for Best in Show. To get there, each dog gets judged by its physical appearance and characteristics and how well they line up with established standards for their respective breeds. They get assessed for their function per the purpose they were bred for originally. For example, an Australian Shepherd is a herding dog.
4. Only one dog from each group makes the cut
Each dog goes through a rigorous inspection by judges at the National Dog Show. They compete for the best in the group as the first stage of the judging. Only one dog from each of the seven groups gets chosen to move forward in the contest. These dogs compete against one another for the Best In Show. The result is a representative from each group, going up against other groups.
5. More than 2,000 dogs begin the competition
The beginning of the National Dog Show starts with more than 2,000 of the top AKC sanctioned dogs entering the contest. The cuts run over two days. Only the cream of the crop rising to the top. Only one representative from each breed gets chosen to enter the seven groups for judging. It keeps judges busy for the first two days of the competition. Dogs from across the United States get invited to join, but owners must have their credentials on hand to prove their merit for entry. The event is the stage where we see some of the most celebrated show dogs gather to compete against one another.
6. The number of official breeds changes from year to year
Dogtails points out that the number of dog breeds officially recognized by the American Kennel Club changes from year to year. For example, the 2018 dog show featured two new dog breeds that became accepted the 2018 show. In 2017, however, no new recognized dog breeds were competing. The lucky dogs that gained new recognition for 2018 were the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen and the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje.
7. The National Dog Show doesn’t discriminate
The National Dog Show organizers and judges have done a remarkable job in keeping the show unbiased and open for all breeds. They don’t play favorites, even though most people have a favorite breed. Only two specific dog breeds have won the Best in Show title more than two times since the year 2001. The Wire Fox Terrier breed took best in the show in 2011, repeating the first place win at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2014. The name of the two-time winner is Eira, aka GCH Steele Your Heart. Officials make every effort to keep the show fair for all entrants. Some breeds do better than others, however. Some dog breeds have never won at the National Dog Show. Besting Eira’s record was a Scottish Deerhound named GCH Foxcliffe Claire Randall Fraser, who took the Best of Show title in 2020 and again in 2021. He was the first contestant with Best in Show awards for two consecutive years in a row in the history of the show.
8. The National Dog Show is in an elite class
The National Dog Show is a premier event for show-quality dog owners and breeders. It is one of just six dog shows in the United States that are “benched.” Benched shows establish the stipulation that each participant is required to be on an assigned bench when the animal is not active in competition. Benching is useful for keeping the dog in one place to allow any interested parties the chance to meet each dog. The groups are usually comprised of handlers, breeders, attendees, and other interested spectators who have questions about the dogs and would like to see them in person. It’s an extra value element for participants.
9. The National Dog Show is as big as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The National Dog Show is broadcast on national television immediately after the airing of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s a gala event that is broadcast at about 2 PM on the NBC television network. The show brings in an estimated twenty-million viewers each year. The Thanksgiving day broadcast covers highlights of both days of the show. The actual event is held the weekend before the holiday, so you’re not seeing live coverage. The editors have consistently done an exceptional job of including the most interesting highlights of the event.
10. The National Dog Show has a dependable schedule
Be More Panda points out that you can depend on the National Dog Show to be televised on the dame day every year. Even though the event takes place the weekend before, airing the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day has become an annual tradition. Maintaining this tradition gives dog lovers something to look forward to as a special treat to kick off the holiday season in style. Watching the show has become a Thanksgiving tradition for some families. It’s considered to be a type of Superbowl for dogs.
11. Participants must apply early
Dog owners must apply for entrance to the National Dog Show early. Applications for acceptance are made six months before the event for consideration as contestants. It’s a major event in the world of show dogs and it takes time for the committees to approve applications and get back to the participants. If you wish to enter your dog in the National Dog Show, you need to apply early.
12. Every contestant must be medically certified
Dogs entering the National Dog Show competition must meet a strict set of criteria before they are allowed to participate with other dogs. This is how the organizing committee keeps all contestants safe and healthy. Each dog owner must present a special medical certificate that confirms the health of the dog is ranked as excellent. The animal must have an impeccable physical fitness record.
13. All National Dog Show participants are parasite-free
A dog show with two-thousands animals running around is a potential breeding ground for transferring parasites. It only takes one infected dog to spread a parasitic infection to all of the other dogs in the competition. This is why all animals participating in the event are required to be vaccinated and treated against parasites. It’s an additional protective measure for the dogs that gather at the show.
14. The National Dog Show is an old tradition
The National Dog Show was first held in 1879. It’s a show with a history that goes back more than 150 years. The show was briefly interrupted during the era of the Great Depression, but only from 1928 through 1932. Organizers at the American Kennel Club of Philadelphia, which founded the event got it back on track.
15. The American Kennel Club is the sponsor of the National Dog Show
The American Kennel Club of Philadelphia is the sponsor of the National Dog Show. The American Kennel Club was established on September 17, 1884. The organization began with a group of twelve dog breeders who met at the club in Philadelphia to start what is now the breed accreditation agency in charge for the United States.
16. The National Dog Show moves through three stages
The National Dog Show is a two-day event that moves through a series of three stages. Each dog that enters the competition undergoes judging in the breed rings during the first stage. This is where judges select the best representative from each breed. The second stage is to choose the best representative from each of the seven groups of dog classifications. The final step involves judging each of the seven top contenders in the contest for the Best in Show.
17. Most National Dog Show pet owners have money
According to Pet Keen, showing dogs is an expensive hobby. Only those who can afford the cost ever make it to the National Dog Show. Although it doesn’t cost a lot to gain entrance to the event, it’s the overhead that costs so much. Typically, owners pay a $100 entrance fee or less. Some dogs enter ten to fifteen shows monthly. This is where the cost of competing adds up quickly. Other costs for preparation for dog shows include the cost of the dog, which can easily top $5,000, and the cost of professional trainers, groomers, and health care professionals. On top of that, dogs must be fed a high-quality diet. This is why most people who enter their dogs in the National Dog Show have money. It’s an expensive hobby.
18. The National Dog Show is one of six Benched Shows in the nation
Most dog shows are moving away from the practice of benching dogs. The National Dog Show is one of just six shows in the nation that maintains the tradition. Attendees look forward to the opportunity to meet the participants and ask questions of the breeders and owners. The benched shows keep the dogs and their handlers in the building and on the bench throughout all of the competitions. Although it takes hours, it shows the willpower of the animals and how well they respond to the necessity of staying in one place for extended periods.
19. The National Dog Show is educational
Dog Trotting points out that the National Dog Show presents interesting facts about the contestants. It’s a venue that is educational and provides interesting facts about some of the dog breeds represented. You can learn a lot by watching the show on television, and even more by attending the event in person. Announcers are excellent at sharing small facts and snippets of trivia about the various breeds that are represented at The National Dog Show. There is something new to learn every year.
20. Many contestants in The National Dog Show are named after athletes
Here is an interesting bit of trivia that we learned from the National Dog show. Many of the animals that appear as contestants are named after famous athletes. A good example of this is a dog named Kam in the non-sporting group. He was named after the former Seattle Seahawks player Kam chancellor.