It may be a Wire Fox Terrier that won the hearts of the judges at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this week, but it's the Labrador Retriever that has won the hearts of people all across the country.
This was a good week for dog lovers. The Westminster Kennel Club made history by holding an event that included mixed breed animals. Of the approximately 225 dogs that competed in the Master Agility Championship, sixteen were “All American Dogs” rather than a specific breed. The overall winner was Kelso, a Border Collie from Maine. The title of Best All-American (or mixed breed) went to a dog from the opposite side of the country, a Husky mix named Roo! from San Francisco.
That high energy agility competition was followed by the more traditional Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, limited not just to purebred animals but to the best of the best. Dogs compete by breed, then by group. The seven group winners compete for the coveted title of Best in Show.
This year that honor went to a California girl named Sky, a Wire Fox Terrier. The past couple of years, the top title went to a member of the Toy group, but in the last hundred years or so, Toy dogs have won only ten times. The top winning group? Terriers with more than forty top titles - and the winning-est breed is the Wire Fox Terrier which just claimed its 14th Westminster crown, more than any other single breed.
You might think that winning Westminster would be good for a breed, but last month when the American Kennel Club published its annual list of most popular breeds based on AKC registrations, Wire Fox Terriers were way down on the list at number ninety-six. At the top of the list where it has been for 23 years in a row is the Labrador Retriever. That breaks the record of 22 years once held by the Poodle.
Of course, popularity can change depending on where you live. The favorite breed for folks in Atlanta, Boston, Houston, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC, is the Lab. But in Chicago and Miami the German Shepherd is the most popular breed. And in New York City it’s the Bulldog.
It’s interesting that only one German Shepherd has won Westminster, and one Bulldog as well. But the Labrador Retriever, despite its popularity, has never won – except, in the hearts of dog lovers who continue to appreciate its wonderful qualities as a great companion. And that’s what best friends are all about, when you’re speaking of pets.