15 Fun Facts About Westminster’s Winningest Breeds

wire fox terrier


Some breeds seem destined for stardom at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show presented by Purina® Pro Plan® and prove it by winning Best in Show repeatedly. Since the very first Westminster Best in Show in 1907, 46 winners have all come from the same group of dogs, if not the same breed. Do you know which one? Here are some of the winningest breeds in Westminster history.


Wire Fox Terrier
 

wire fox terrier


1. This feisty little terrier has won Best in Show 14 times! In 2003, The New York Times wrote that terriers are “ . . . to Westminster what Meryl Streep is to the Oscars.”

2. King Edward VII had a beloved Wire Fox Terrier named Caesar. When the king died in 1910, Caesar walked in the funeral procession behind the casket.

3. Wire Fox Terriers personify the terrier temperament: independent, tenacious, feisty, and smart. They can be brave to the point of recklessness, a trait known as "terrier fire."

4. The breed first became broadly popular as pets in the United States in the 1930s because of a movie series, "The Thin Man." Asta, a Wire Fox Terrier, was the antic pet of Nick and Nora Charles, the film's main characters.

5. The word "terrier" comes from the Latin word "terra," which means earth. Terriers are known as "earth dogs."


Scottish Terrier
 

scottish terrier


1. Yes, another terrier is among the breeds that have most often won Best in Show at Westminster, taking home the trophy eight times, the first in 1911 and the most recent in 2010.

2. Scotties, like most terriers, are prey-driven, tenacious, and fiery, winning the breed nickname, "Diehard."

3. As the name suggests, the breed originated in the British Isles. In fact, all terriers, with the exception of the Cesky Terrier and the Miniature Schnauzer, come from Britain or former English colonies.

4. The Scottish Terrier was a pet to many celebrities and well-known personalities, including Humphrey Bogart, Charles Lindbergh, and Shirley Temple. President Franklin Roosevelt’s Scottie, Fala, is said to have received more fan mail than most presidents.

5. Fans of the breed will tell you that Scottish Terriers have complex, almost human personalities, like no other breed. They say that once you have a Scottie, you’ll never be content owning "just a dog."


English Springer Spaniel
 

english springer spaniel


1. This peerless sporting breed has won Best in Show at Westminster six times, the first time in 1963 and, for the sixth time in 2007. An English Springer Spaniel, Chinoe's Adamant James, won Best in Show for two consecutive years, 1971 and 1972, making him only one-of-six dogs to achieve that honor.

2. Up until the 20th century, Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels were essentially the same breed, with both often found in one litter. The distinguishing factors between the two were size and the job they were meant to do. The smaller Cockers hunted woodcocks, while the large Springers were used to “spring” (flush) game birds and animals for the hunter. They weren’t designated as separate breeds until 1902.

3. Until the 1940s, Springer Spaniels were dual competitors, which means the same dog might compete in field trials and conformation events. That changed as breeders began breeding for selective traits. Field Springers are bred for their athleticism, sense of smell, working ability, speed, and trainability. Show (or Bench) Springers, with their longer hair and squarer muzzle, conform to the breed standard while having a more eye-catching appearance and showmanship.

4. Along with his great hunting ability, the English Springer Spaniel is a lovable family companion, bred to work closely with his people. They don’t just like your company, they crave it. Today, Springers are among the top 30 most popular breeds in the country.

5. Because of their superior sense of smell and trainability, English Springer Spaniels often work with police and the military as detection dogs. In fact, Buster, a Springer in the United Kingdom, received a military award for his detection work during five tours of duty. He saved countless lives with his extraordinary talent for sniffing out explosives, weapons, and bomb-making equipment.

Once we get past these three winning breeds, the field gets a little more crowded. For instance, there are seven breeds tied, with four Best in Show wins each: Airedale Terrier, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Pekingese, Sealyham Terrier, Smooth Fox Terrier, and Standard Poodle. And, for those who like statistics, the Terrier Group has 46(!) wins, followed by the Sporting Group with 20. So, what will happen at Westminster this year? Will the winningest breeds keep winning or will a dark horse (so to speak) take the trophy?

Don't forget to tune in 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Monday, Feb. 12 & Tuesday, Feb. 13 to see who will be crowned this year's top dog!

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