The historic Westminster Dog Show was held yesterday, and while many beautiful dogs of all breeds were on display, only one dog could claim the top prize of “Best in Show.”
That honor went to Buddy Holly, a 6-year-old male from Palm Springs, California, who made history as the first petit basset griffon Vendéen to win Best in Show.
Buddy Holly makes history
The petit basset griffon Vendéen — or PBGV for short — is a breed belonging to the hound group. Originally bred in the Vendéen region of France as rabbit hunting dogs, PBGVs are known for their friendly, happy demeanor.
In the dog show’s 147-year history, this is the first time a dog of the breed has won the top prize, and Buddy’s owner is thrilled he broke that glass ceiling.
“I never thought a PBGV would do this,” handler and co-owner Janice Hayes said after the big win, per NPR. “Buddy Holly is the epitome of a show dog.”
“He’s just everything a PBGV should be – hardheaded, stubborn, happy,” she added, according to CNN. “He moves just so easily, and we are just so proud of him.”
Speaking to Good Morning America after Buddy’s victory, Hayes said it was a lifelong dream of hers to train a champion dog: “I knew it was going to happen. I don’t know why, I just fell in love with the sport then and I knew exactly what I wanted to do from then,” Hayes told GMA.
She said that while Buddy Holly loves the camera and the treats, he is now going to retire from competition.
The runner-up was Rummie the Pekingese, who was the winner of the toy group. The other finalists were Winston the French bulldog, Ribbon the Australian shepherd, Cider the English setter, Monty the giant schnauzer and Trouble the American Staffordshire terrier.
According to the Westminster Kennel Club, more than 3,000 dogs across 210 breeds competed in this year’s competition.
Westminster Dog Show
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the best-known dog show in the world and one of the longest-running sporting events in the United States, behind only the Kentucky Derby: the first even took place in 1877. It has been called the “Super Bowl” of the dog show world.
Competitors are split into seven groups: Hound, Toy, Terrier, Herding, Working, Sporting, and Non-Sporting. The dogs are evaluated by judges, essentially judging them on how well they represent the ideal standard of their breed, from specific physical characteristics to their agility and temperament.
For instance, Buddy Holly had the ideal appearance and temperament of his breed: “I think Buddy, of course, had these key features that are so important to the breed, which are a very balanced body, compact,” Westminster Kennel Club’s director of communications Gail Miller Bisher told GMA.
“He has the mustache, the long eyebrows, all these key features that are so important and of course, when he’s going around that ring, he has his tail up, nice tapered tail.”
The dogs deemed Best in Breed go on to compete in Best in Group, and the winners from each group then compete for Best in Show.
Last year’s Best in Show went to a bloodhound named Trumpet, who, like Buddy Holly, broke ground as the first dog of his breed to win the top prize.
Many of the most popular dog breeds have surprisingly never taken home Best in Show — including the Labrador retriever, the golden retriever, the dachshund and the French Bulldog.
Conversely, terriers have done very well at the competition, with the Wire Fox Terrier winning a record 15 times and the Scottish Terrier right behind with 8 wins. Terriers also have the most wins by group.
Tim McGraw’s dog takes a prize
Another interesting fact about this year’s ceremony: a dog co-owned by Grammy-winning country star Tim McGraw won a prize at Westminster.
McGraw announced on Instagram that his Bracco Italiano dog Lepshi won Best of Breed, in the first time the Bracco Italiano has been included as a breed at Westminster.
“So proud of Lepshi!” McGraw wrote on Instagram. “He’s always been a winner in our eyes!”
“He’s a wonderful ambassador for the breed,” the 6-year-old dog’s handler Ryan Wolfe told AP after the win. “He loves everybody.”
Congrats to Buddy Holly and all the beautiful dogs who competed at this year’s Westminster Dog Show!
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