Westminster Dog Show: The Road to Best in Show

It all comes down to this. Join us tonight for photos, results and live analysis from reporters who definitely do not cover dog shows for a living.,

LiveUpdated June 13, 2021, 6:44 p.m. ETJune 13, 2021, 6:44 p.m. ET

It all comes down to this. Join us tonight for lots of photos, the latest results, and live analysis from reporters who definitely do not cover dog shows for a living.

By The New York Times

ImageA group of springer spaniels entering the ring for judging on Sunday.
A group of springer spaniels entering the ring for judging on Sunday.Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

It’s one of the nights that the country’s best dogs — and let’s be honest, the rest of us — wait for all year: Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The annual event, a staple of chilly winter nights at Madison Square Garden, has taken a pandemic-influenced field trip this weekend: to the grounds of Lyndhurst, a riverside estate in suburban Westchester County that was once owned by the financier Jay Gould.

The judging for the final three groups will begin at about 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Follow along with us here, or cheer your favorites on Fox. And send us pictures of your best pooches: Tweet photos with the hashtag #nytdogshow and we’ll include our own judges’ selections.

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June 13, 2021, 6:38 p.m. ETJune 13, 2021, 6:38 p.m. ET
From left, a barbet, Biewer terrier, Belgian Laekenois and Dogo Argentino made their debuts this week.
From left, a barbet, Biewer terrier, Belgian Laekenois and Dogo Argentino made their debuts this week.Credit…John Minchillo/Associated Press

More than 200 breeds are recognized by the American Kennel Club and are therefore eligible for the Westminster show. The four new entrants in 2021 are:

  • The barbet, a curly haired bearded dog;

  • the Belgian Laekenois, a shaggier shepherd;

  • the Biewer terrier, a longhaired, three-colored toy terrier;

  • and the Dogo Argentino, a white muscular dog with a smooth coat.

Here’s this year’s barbet competition:

The Belgian Laekenois round:

And the Biewer terrier judging:

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June 13, 2021, 6:01 p.m. ETJune 13, 2021, 6:01 p.m. ET

By The New York Times

For the first time, Westminster is being held at Lyndhurst, the Gothic Revival mansion and estate in Tarrytown, N.Y., once owned by the robber baron Jay Gould. Gould and his family loved dogs, though probably not having them hang out in tents and cars all over their lawn. Oh well. That’s what we have.

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June 13, 2021, 5:32 p.m. ETJune 13, 2021, 5:32 p.m. ET
The 2019 Best in Show winner was a wire fox terrier named King.
The 2019 Best in Show winner was a wire fox terrier named King.Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

Handicapping a dog show field is a bit harder than picking the winner of the fourth race at Belmont. It is commonly said that terriers are the best bet, and the wire fox terrier does have the most wins, with 15. But terriers have won only two of the last 10 Westminsters, so prediction is difficult.

There may even be terrier fatigue: When King, a wire fox terrier, won best in show honors in 2019, not everyone was thrilled. “Boos and grumbles filled Madison Square Garden when the judge handed King the coveted pewter cup,” The New York Times wrote then.

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King, a wire fox terrier, won best in show at the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday. Wire fox terriers have won best in show more than any other breed in the competition’s history.CreditCredit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

There are show favorites and crowd favorites, and those are not always the same breeds. Golden retrievers and Labradors, for example, are two of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, but neither has ever won best in show at Westminster.

“If you had a popularity contest, we would win,” Christine Miele, the Eastern vice president of the Golden Retriever Club of America, told The Times in 2019.

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June 13, 2021, 5:03 p.m. ETJune 13, 2021, 5:03 p.m. ET

There will be a whippet named Bourbon and a Pekingese named Wasabi. A French bulldog named Mathew — wait, shouldn’t that be Mathieu? — won the nonsporting group, and an Old English Sheepdog called Connor was judged the best of the herding entries. (He also looked big enough to eat a couple of rivals if the result had not gone his way.)

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June 13, 2021, 5:02 p.m. ETJune 13, 2021, 5:02 p.m. ET
The Lyndhurst grounds have a long history as the host of dog shows, including dozens of events run by the Westchester Kennel Club.
The Lyndhurst grounds have a long history as the host of dog shows, including dozens of events run by the Westchester Kennel Club.Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The nation’s top dogs are getting a weekend in the country.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has been a midwinter tradition in New York City for more than a century, but this year the event moved from Madison Square Garden, its longtime home, to Lyndhurst, a riverside estate in Tarrytown, N.Y., north of the city, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The change to a warm-weather, outdoor show was necessary, organizers said, to ensure the event could take place and still comply with the “ever-changing government restrictions” brought on by the health crisis. The Lyndhurst grounds have a long history as the host of dog shows, including dozens of events run by the Westchester Kennel Club.

The Lyndhurst estate, once owned by the robber baron Jay Gould, is now maintained by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The vast collection of antique furniture inside its iconic Gothic Revival mansion will, presumably, remain off-limits, even to champions.

The change in venue, which was made possible when two other shows agreed to surrender the June dates, allowed the Westminster show to extend a continuous run that dates to 1877, and includes 100 years of shows at various iterations of Madison Square Garden. Only the Kentucky Derby, which was first run in 1875 and crowns a horse, not a dog, as its champion, has had a longer run among American sporting events.

Here’s a look at the setup for this weekend:

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June 13, 2021, 5:01 p.m. ETJune 13, 2021, 5:01 p.m. ET

You’re in the right place: The New York Times will have live commentary from our, uh, experts, beginning tonight at 7:30 Eastern time.

But you’re probably wondering if you can catch the dogs on TV. There is a “pre-show” at 7 p.m. on Fox, followed by coverage of the actual event beginning at 7:30. First, there will be three group finals, for the sporting, working and terrier groups.

Then, the winners of those groups will join four other group winners — from the hound, toy, non-sporting and herding groups — to compete for Best in Show. The big winner will probably be announced toward the end of the broadcast at 11 p.m.

Fox will also stream the event in its Fox Now and Fox Sports apps.

You can also watch highlights from this weekend’s agility championships:

Those hoping to attend the competition in person are out of luck this year: Spectators not directly involved with a competing dog are prohibited because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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