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History of the National Dog Show

Nov 14, 2022 | Dog, In the News, Pet Features


Where Is the National Dog Show Held?

Presented by Purina, hosted by the American Kennel Club, and held in Pennsylvania, television viewing of the National Dog Show has been a Thanksgiving tradition for households across the country since 2002.

The National Dog Show features more than 150 AKC-sanctioned dog breeds competing for the #1 spot: Best in Show. But, to compete for that top spot, one pup from each of the seven categories must first be crowned First in Group—and the competition is always tight! Recent National Dog Show winners included Claire the Scottish Deerhound, Thor the Bulldog, Whiskey the Whippet, Newton the Brussels Griffon, and Gia the Greyhound. It’s really any dog’s game!

Let’s talk a little more about the National Dog Show breeds and their history!


Seven National Dog Show Breeds

The seven National Dog Show breeds include Herding, Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting, Sporting, Terrier, and Working. While over 2,000 dogs are entered into the National Dog Show each year, only 200 go on to compete, and just seven are chosen to go head-to-head for Best in Show. These canines are considered the best of the best, representing their category and the functions and characteristics for which their breeds were originally intended.

Herding Group

You know Lassie? She was a herding dog! This National Dog Show breed works closely with its human shepherds and moves livestock like sheep and cattle. They’re high energy, intelligent and responsive, making them easily trainable. Some common herding breeds include the Border Collie, German Shepherd, and Pembroke Welsh Corgi, while some more uncommon include the Icelandic Sheepdog and the Puli.


Hound Group

You’ve probably seen many hounds in cinema, like Trusty from Lady and the Tramp and Copper from The Fox and the Hound. Hounds were bred to pursue warm-blooded prey. Sighthounds use their speed and vision to chase fast game like antelope, while scenthounds use their powerful sense of smell to sniff out tricksters like raccoons. Common breeds include the Bloodhound, Dachshund, Greyhound, and others like the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno and Treeing Walker Coonhound.


Toy Group

Gidget, the Pomeranian from Secret Life of Pets, is a true “toy” dog with an ideal height of 8-11 inches and weight of only 3-7 pounds. These are the smallest National Dog Show breeds and come in all colors and coat types. They’re often highly affectionate and attentive. These breeds include the Chihuahua, Pug, Shih Tzu, as well as the Affenpinscher and Silky Terrier.


Non-Sporting Group

We can think of at least 101 non-sporting dogs you may have heard of…this breed has two things in common: wet noses and four legs. Otherwise, this group of breeds does not share much outside of undeniable cuteness. The varied breeds of this category are often highly interactive and are typically sought after for companionship. Some include the Bulldog, Dalmatian, and Poodle, in addition to unique breeds like the Coton De Tulear and Xoloitzcuintle (aka Dante from Coco!).


Sporting Group

Sporting dogs were bred to assist hunters in retrieving birds on water or land. They’re brilliant and have keen senses, however, Dug the fun-loving Golden Retriever from Disney’s Up defies that categorization a bit. Other sporting breeds include the Labrador Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, Cocker Spaniel, Spinone Italiano, and Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (say that five times fast!).


Terrier Group

If you’ve ever shopped at Target, you’re familiar with their mascot Bullseye the Bull Terrier. This National Dog Show breed category is made up of some feisty pups. The short-legged terriers were first bred to burrow after rodents underground, while the long-legged ones prefer to dig them out. The group’s “bully” breeds (like Bullseye) were bred as the ultimate family companion. Some examples include the Scottish Terrier, West Highland Terrier (Westie), Cesky Terrier, and Welsh Terrier.


Working Group

The ferocious Rottweiler in Ferris Bueller, and Scooby-Doo, the Great Dane, are two examples of this hardworking dog breed. These punch-the-clock, blue-collared good boys and girls make up some of the world’s most ancient breeds. They were developed to protect and assist humans in activities like sled-pulling and guarding homes. They tend to be known for their smarts, strength, and stature. Some breeds include the Boxer, Great Dane, and Rottweiler, as well as the Kuvasz and Tibetan Mastiff.


All of these prestigious dogs are groomed and trained for years ahead of the National Dog Show competition and only have a few minutes on stage to show off their hard work. The judges can be picky and base much of their decision on several physical factors as well as the pet’s demeanor—they want to see dogs that are happy to be there! The 2022 National Dog Show takes place November 19-20 and broadcasts on NBC and various streaming apps on Thanksgiving Day. So, while awaiting your festive feast, tune in and root for your favorite contestants!

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.