All About The Breeds Behind The Westminster Group Winners

The Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show went to Flynn the Bichon Frisé but each breed represented at the WKC Dog Show is special in its own right. Let’s learn a bit more about the breeds behind the seven Westminster Kennel Club finalists right here.

1. Bean the Sussex Spaniel Clowns Around in the Sporting Group

Bean the Sussex Spaniel.

Bean the Sussex Spaniel. Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

‘Bean’ the Sussex Spaniel is truly well named as he is always full of beans and puts on an entertaining performance for judges and ringside spectators alike. More formally known as Grand Champion Kamands Full of Beans @ Erinhill, this multiple Best-in-Show winner is handled by Per Rismyhr, a spaniel specialist, for his proud breeders and owners, Karen Ann Toner and Amanda Toner. Sussex Spaniels are a long and low breed that love to sit on their haunches and beg at every opportunity.

Needless to say, the roaring crowds at Madison Square Garden fell in love with this routine and only egged on Bean the ham to sit up and beg every time Rismyhr walked him up to the judge, Elizabeth “Beth” Sweigart. Judge Sweigart got her start in Labradors, so she is an expert on all the Sporting breeds and recognized what a superb specimen Bean is. He was in sparkling condition and well-muscled with his golden-liver coat, a hallmark of the breed, glistening.

The breed’s long, low body with heavy bone was developed to hunt in heavy brush and undergrowth. Although the Sussex Spaniel was one of the original nine breeds to be recognized by the American Kennel Club, the breed never gained popularity, as hunters preferred the faster, flashier gun dogs. Today, the Sussex Spaniel is one of the rarest breeds in the world. Many Americans first became acquainted with the breed in 2009 when ‘Stump’ made history by becoming the first Sussex Spaniel, and the oldest dog of any breed at age 10, to win Best in Show at Westminster.

2. Lucy the Elegant Borzoi Leads the Hounds

Lucy the Borzoi.

Lucy the Borzoi. Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

‘Lucy’ the Borzoi triumphed in the Hound Group, repeating her victory of 2016. Grand Champion Belisarius JP My Sassy Girl was born in Japan and went on to become that country’s top-winning dog of all breeds before she was sent to the USA to compete in dog shows here. She ended 2017 as the No. 1 Hound in America. She made an elegant picture, sweeping around the Westminster ring with her handler, Valerie Nunes Atkinson. With this win, she retired from the show ring and will return to Japan to begin the next chapter of her career, motherhood.

The Borzoi was favored by the Russian aristocracy who went on wolf hunts with 100 or more of the fleet-footed hounds. Borzoi are classified as sighthounds, using their excellent eyesight to spot game. At home, they are quiet and dignified, making a loving companion for those who can provide them with the space to gallop freely in a safely enclosed area.

3. Ty the Giant Schnauzer Makes a Giant Impression in the Working Group

Ty the Giant Schnauzer.

Ty the Giant Schnauzer. Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

‘Ty’ the Giant Schnauzer who was the No. 1 dog all breeds for 2017, continued his winning ways at Westminster, claiming a Group First and ultimately Reserve Best in Show over nearly 2,900 dogs. Grand Champion Ingebar’s Tynan Dances With Wildflowers showed flawlessly for his handler, Katie Bernardin. Ty and Katie have competed in shows nationwide and never let down. In fact, Ty is the top-winning male Giant Schnauzer in breed history.

Interestingly, Ty’s talented breeder, the late Maryann Bisceglia, also bred the top-winning female Giant Schnauzer, and top Giant Schnauzer overall, in breed history. She passed away two years ago and is greatly missed in the dog show world.

The Giant Schnauzer hails from Germany and is the largest of the three distinct Schnauzer breeds. The Giant Schnauzer was developed as a versatile protection, security and guard dog and has a loyal following in this country.

4. Winston the Norfolk Terrier Rules the Terrier Group

Winston the Norfolk Terrier.

Winston the Norfolk Terrier. Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

‘Winston’ the irrepressible Norfolk Terrier caught the eye of Terrier connoisseur judge Rosalind Kramer and won the Group, handled by Ernesto Lara, who has also devoted his life to the Terrier breeds. Grand Champion Yarrow Venerie Winning Ticket is another great show dog that seems well named, since he is a multiple Best in Show and specialty winner enjoying enormous success.

The American Kennel Club recognized the Norwich Terrier (drop and prick ear) in 1936. It took until January of 1979 for the Norwich Terrier, with its prick (or upright) ears, and the Norfolk Terrier, with its drop ears, to be given separate breed status. Game and hardy, compact and active, the Norfolk is one of the smallest of the working terriers.

5. The Toy Group Win by This Pug Was a… Biggie

Biggie the Pug.

Biggie the Pug. Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

When ‘Biggie’ the Pug was pointed to the No. 1 spot in the Toy Group by judge David Kirkland, it was a particularly emotional moment for his owner Carolyn Koch and his handler Esteban Farias. Biggie’s cousin ‘Rumble’ was top Pug and one of the biggest-winning Toy dogs in the country when he died suddenly last year. Biggie showed his heart out on the green carpet of the Westminster ring and brought home glory to his family. Somehow, he knew it was the night to rumble.

Grand Champion Hill Country’s Puttin’ On The Ritz delivered a great performance and was certainly a crowd favorite. The Pug is of Chinese origin and dates back to pre-Christian times. Pugs were highly prized by the emperors of China. Dutch traders brought Pugs from the East to Holland, and then on to England. Happy and robust, with a range of human facial expressions, the Pug enjoys huge popularity around the world. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885.

6. Non-Sporting Group Honors Go to Flynn the Bichon Frisé

Flynn the Bichon Frisé.

Flynn the Bichon Frisé. Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

‘Flynn’ the Bichon Frisé finished 2017 as the Top Non-Sporting dog in the nation and his momentum kept up through Westminster, where he led the pack. Grand Champion Belle Creek’s All I Care About Is Love was handled as always by the amiable Bill McFadden, and the animated powder puff was in top form.

The Bichon Frisé breed originated in the Mediterranean regions and descended from the Barbet, a larger, curly-coated water dog. Italian and Spanish sailors took Bichons along on their voyages, both for company and as items of barter. In the 16th century, the breed appeared in France where it became a favorite of the aristocracy during the Renaissance. The Bichon Frisé arrived in the US in 1956.

7. A Slick Performance by Slick the Border Collie in the Herding Group

Slick the Border Collie.

Slick the Border Collie. Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

The Border Collie is known the world over as a versatile breed and ‘Slick’ proved it at Westminster, where he sailed into first place under judge Robert Vandiver. Grand Champion Majestic Elite Clever Endeavor, with many Best in Show wins to his credit, has become the top Border Collie of all time, shown by his equally athletic handler Jamie Clute.

The Border Collie proved himself indispensable to shepherds by allowing them to maintain large flocks in the Border country between Scotland and England. Queen Victoria, a huge dog lover, became enamored with the breed in the 19th century and promoted it widely. The Border Collie is recognized worldwide as the quintessential sheepherding dog, admired for his obedience, trainability and natural appearance.

Thumbnail: Lucy the Borzoi. Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

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Dog breed profiles help everyone, whether you have a mixed breed or purebred dog, to better understand and improve the quality of your dog’s life. If you have a mixed breed dog, read up on all of the breed profiles that make up your dog. Not sure what breed your dog is? There are a number of easy DNA tests out there to help your find out.

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The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: Flynn The Bichon Frisé Wins, Biggie And Bean Charm, And More Highlights

People might associate mid-February in New York City with New York Fashion Week. But there’s another iconic NYC event that takes the city by storm and involves well-coifed participants, heightened competition, tons of sparkles and lots of strutting — the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Meet the Breeds and the Master Agility Championship

Leonbergers were among the many dog breeds at Meet the Breeds. Photography by Cait Rohan Kelly.

This year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show kicked off on Saturday, February 10, with Meet the Breeds. The event was a day-long, open-to-the-public affair that featured all different kinds of dog breeds  — from pretty little Papillons to large, lazy and lovable Leonbergers. There was even a cat section featuring cat breeds, too.

The Meet the Breeds event allowed attendees to mix, mingle and — most importantly — pet and interact with different dog breeds. Breed representatives were on hand to answer any questions about that particular breed and show off the highest in their breed’s standards. There were fun elements to many of the booths, from Airedale Terriers posing behind British automobiles to a kissing booth in the Staffordshire Bull Terrier area.

The Masters Agility Championship also took place on Saturday. It was fun to see dogs of all different breeds, colors and sizes jump through hoops, race through tunnels and gracefully tip a see-saw in hopes of winning the title. Some of the dogs were speedy and some of the dogs got adorably distracted by their fans. In the end it was Fame, a Border Collie with boundless energy, who took home the Masters Agility Champion title.

Monday, February 12: Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding Finals

Biggie the Pug won the Toy Group.

Biggie the Pug won the Toy Group, which put him in the running for Best in Show. Photography by Cait Rohan Kelly.

The fun continued on Monday, February 12, when the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups competed. Some of the highlights from Monday included an emotional win by Biggie the Pug in the Toy Group. Biggie’s cousin, a champion show dog named Rumble, passed away unexpectedly this past summer. The Pug’s handler, Esteban Farias, said Biggie’s win at the WKC dog show was in memory of Rumble. Biggie’s cheerful demeanor and adorable face only added to his appeal as a crowd favorite for Best in Show.

Flynn, a Bichon Frisé who we predicted would be in the running for Best in Show, took home top honors in the Non-Sporting Group. An elegant Borzoi named Lucy emerged as the Hound Group champion, and Slick the Border Collie won the Herding Group.

Tuesday, February 13: Sporting, Working and Terrier Finals… and Best in Show!

Ty the Giant Schnauzer.

Ty the Giant Schnauzer won the Working Group — and another coveted accolade later on (keep reading!). Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

Tuesday, February 13, was the night of Best in Show… but not before the Sporting, Working and Terrier groups named their finalists. The Spaniels dazzled in the Sporting Group, with their short legs, chic grooming and cheerful personalities. Bean, the Sussex Spaniel, was an absolute standout and crowd favorite as he adorably stood on his hind legs like a human at the end of his show run. It was no surprise (and much to the crowd’s delight!) when Bean won the Sporting Group.

Ty, the Giant Schnauzer who we had predicted would be in the running for Best in Show, won the Working Group, while a Norfolk Terrier named Winston took tops in the Terrier Group.

And the Winner of Best in Show Is…

Flynn the Bichon Frisé who won Best in Show at Westminster.

Flynn the Bichon Frisé who won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

As the finalists rounded up, it was clear that Biggie the Pug and Bean the Sussex Spaniel were crowd favorites, garnering a large amount of whoops and cheers from adoring fans in the stands at Madison Square Garden. When the big moment came for seasoned judge Mrs. Betty-Anne Stenmark to award the Best in Show, she reminded the audience that the competition was about judging to breed standards. Flynn, the beautiful Bichon Frisé, took home the Best in Show title, with Ty, the stately Giant Schnauzer, winning Reserve Best in Show.

If we had to judge, we would’ve added superlatives like Best Athlete for Slick, the energetic Border Collie; Best Dressed for Lucy, the well-coiffed Borzoi; Best Smile to Winston, the happy-go-lucky Norfolk Terrier; Class Clown to Bean the Sussex Spaniel for his playful, crowd-pleasing antics; and Mr. Congeniality to the very sweet Biggie the Pug (he was sighted hugging a toddler!).

Congrats to Flynn and all the dogs who competed for the Best in Show title! Stay tuned for even more coverage of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on

PS: We loved the show’s reminders that all dogs participating were from professional and responsible breeders. No dogs featured were from puppy mills or sold in pet stores.

Tell us: Did you watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show? What did you think of the picks and the Best in Show choice?

Thumbnail: Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli.

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The Top 5 Show Dogs of 2017: Who Will Win The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?

The five top show dogs of 2017 ran tight races and clocked thousands upon thousands of miles in the air and on the ground to compete at dog shows across the country. Every week, every step of the way, they were accompanied by their intrepid professional handlers, teams of assistants who kept the dogs fit and happy on the road, and devoted, single-minded owners. For keeping their collective eye on the prize, they triumphed in the toughest of competitions. So, who will win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show? Learn a bit about each of the top show dogs of 2017:

‘Ty’ the Giant Schnauzer.

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Grand Champion Ingebar’s Tynan Dances with Wildflowers and his handler, Katie Bernardin, ended 2017 as the No. 1 show dog in the country, with 69 all-breed Best in Show wins to his credit. What an elegant pair these two made, flying around the ring as one; young blonde Katie and athletic Ty, in his crisp, jet-black, wiry coat. The Giant Schnauzer is a powerhouse of a dog, combining strength and style. This is the largest of the three Schnauzer breeds, renowned in his native Germany as an agile police and service dog, as well as a fearless guardian of family and home.

‘Preston’ the Puli.

[youtube] No. 2 was Grand Champion Cordmaker Mister Blue Sky, the latest in a string of top Puli winners bred by Sue Huebner at her world-famous Cordmaker Kennels in Australia. This indomitable Puli was the No. 1 dog in the nation in 2016 and certainly thrilled his fans in a second year of campaigning, handled as always by Linda Pitts. This is the ancient sheepdog of Hungary, believed to have been working livestock as early as 4,500 BC. The amazing rope-like cords (or “dreadlocks”) that cover the dog protect him from the harsh elements, as well as marauding predators.

‘Striker’ the Cocker Spaniel.

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Honors for No. 3 dog went to the chocolate brown ASCOB Cocker Spaniel Grand Champion Silverhall Strike Force. ASCOB is one of three varieties of Cockers, and stands for “any solid color other than black.” The other two varieties are Black and Parti-Color (white with markings of black or red). Striker is professionally handled by Michael Pitts, husband of Linda, who showed Preston. The Pitts and their charges ended up competing in the same Best in Show ring on many occasions. Cocker Spaniels started out as a single breed in the United Kingdom, bred to hunt the Eurasian woodcock. When the breed was brought to the United States, it was bred to a different standard, to produce a slightly smaller dog than the English Cocker. The American Cocker was the most popular breed in America from 1936 through 1952, and regained that top spot from 1983 to 1990.

‘Flynn’ the Bichon Frise.

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Grand Champion Belle Creek’s All I Care About Is Love captured the No. 4 spot last year. A West Coast contender, Flynn the animated powder puff, charmed judges from coast to coast, professionally handled by Bill McFadden. The breed name translates from the French as “curly-haired lap dog,” although the family of diminutive white dogs known as the bichons is originally Spanish. Because of their jolly disposition, the dogs were used as barter by sailors as they traveled from continent to continent. They became popular with the Italian nobility and, in France, found favor doing tricks in circuses.

‘Nik’ the Akita.

[youtube] Grand Champion Mojo’s Continuation of a Myth rounds out the Top 5 show dogs of 2017. This imposing dog made his presence felt in Working Groups around the country in 2016 and 2017. The breed is considered a national treasure in Japan, a protector of the home and a symbol of good health. When a child is born in Japan the family often receives the gift of a small Akita statue, to represent health, happiness and long life. In times of illness an Akita statue is sent to wish the patient quick healing. Helen Keller is credited with bringing the first Akita to America in 1937. American servicemen of the occupational forces admired the breed’s intelligence and brought Akitas home to their families following World War II.

Stay tuned for more Westminster coverage on our site, our Instagram, our Facebook and our Twitter.

Thumbnail: Rumor, the German Shepherd Dog who won the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last year. Photography courtesy Westminster Kennel Club.

Tell us: Who do you think will win the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show? Cast your vote on Dogster’s Facebook page!

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Austin Dog Brie Finishes Second in Sporting Group at Westminster, Houston Dog Takes Third

So close! Austin dog Whiskeytown Dalwhinnie Brie finished second (!) in the Sporting Group on Tuesday night at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Brie, a 4-year-old Wiredhaired Pointing Griffin who won best in breed for the second year in a row, was bested by an Irish Setter named Adrian. Another Texas dog, Golden Retriever Elphaba out of Houston, was a crowd favorite and got what sounded through the TV like the biggest cheers for the group. She came in third. Great showing Brie and Elphaba!

Brie, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, won best in breed for the second year in a row at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Contributed by Debbie Elliott

Brie, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, won best in breed for the second year in a row at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Contributed by Debbie Elliott

Austin Dog Wins Best in Breed, Competes Tonight at Westminster

Austin’s own Whiskeytown Dalwhinnie Brie — just Brie when not competing — won best in breed on Monday night in the Wiredhaired Pointing Griffin competition at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The 4-year-old, who won her breed last year, too, will be back in the ring Tuesday night for the Sporting Group at Madison Square Garden. If she wins that, it’s on to Best in Show. Owners Donna and Gino Troy of Austin are there to cheer on Brie, along with Donna’s sister, Debbie Elliott, who tipped us to the victory and shared a photo. Go, Brie!

The competition airs on FS1 starting at 7 p.m.

Brie, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, won best in breed for the second year in a row at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Contributed by Debbie Elliott

Brie, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, won best in breed for the second year in a row at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Monday. Contributed by Debbie Elliott