Dog Shows and Your Pug

Many Pug owners are interested in dog shows. Whether it's as an observer or entrant, these events attract an audience of millions. Of course, one show stands out from the rest.

The Westminster Dog Show is the king of American Shows. It is run by the Westminster Kennel Club which was founded in New York in 1877 when a small group of men decided, over drinks, that it was about time that New York City had a show for their prized pooches. From the beginning the popularity of the event surprised the members of the club. The original show attracted more than 1200 dogs and had to be extended to a four day period rather than the original three.

The Westminster Dog Show and Club has nothing to do with the Westminster of London fame as you might expect. It gets the name from the fact that the original meetings took place in the bar at the Westminster Hotel. The hotel no longer exists but the club does. Since the members couldn’t decide on name for the club they chose the name Westminster and thought the show could give dog owners to display their breeds in a formal setting rather than in the field. Gilmore Garden, the Madison Square Garden precursor, served as the original venue for the show. From the first show in 1877 it has consistently grown in popularity. It is currently held annually in Madison Square Garden. That fact alone is an interesting part of the history of the show because the current “Garden” is actually the fourth in a line bearing the Garden label and “The Show” is one of the few events that have played them all.

When you consider how the world has changed since 1877 it is no wonder that there is so much tradition and prestige associated with the show. The original year was the inaugural year for Rutherford B. Hayes, the nineteenth President of the United States. It was his administration that officially ended the Reconstruction in the South. The show is older than the World Series and the automobile. There was no air travel, Brooklyn Bridge or light bulbs when the first Westminster Show was organized! Only the Kentucky Derby is a longer, continuously running sporting event. Through the years the show has been connected to such historical figures as J.P. Morgan, the Queen of England, the Czar of Russia and even General George Custer whose dog pack is credited with siring two Staghounds that appeared in the show.

In 1907, the Best In Show award was started and it has been the crown jewel of the show ever since. Has a Pug ever won Best in Show? Before we answer that let’s explain that the show is organized by Dog Group and there is a Best in Group for each of the seven Groups: Herding, Hound, Non-Sporting, Sporting, Toy, Terrier and Working. The Pug competes against twenty other breeds in this group. It’s a big honor to win the Best in Group award.

The award dates back to 1924 and the Pug has been the winner of the Best in Group eight different years. The first time was in 1945 and the most recent winning occurred in 2006. Pugs won back to back awards in 1980 and 1981. It was not the same Pug winning those awards but, rather, two different dogs.

The good news is that a Pug was the Best in Show winner in 1981. The competition has been pretty stiff in the Toy Group with the Pekingese winning the Best in Group award no less than 23 times and the Best in Show award on three different occasions.

One might expect the entrance fee for the show to be hefty but it’s under $100. It is very limited, however, and your dog must be a champion through other open competition. The Westminster Dog Show takes place in February of each year and is limited to around 2,500 entrants. It is one of the most popular events in New York City and is televised each year and watched by millions of dog lovers around the world.

There are, of course, other dog shows than the Westminster and many different types of competition. A quick search on the internet will give you information on more shows and competitions than you knew existed. There are many different kinds of dog shows and competitive activities. It can be a very rewarding experience preparing your Pug for competition and many owners say that that is when they feel closest to their dog. Certainly obedience training is well worth the effort and, in the end, you’ll have a better behaved Pug so everyone is a winner.

One organization has done more than any other in regulating the standards of the dog world. The American Kennel Club is an incredible organization with a very interesting history.