Did a Golden Retriever Finally Win Westminster?
Once again, a crowd favorite failed to take the top honor at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The Best in Show title went to Siba, a three-year-old Standard Poodle, even though Daniel the Golden Retriever received the loudest cheers.
Daniel got the crowd’s attention after winning the Sporting Group. He carried his blue-ribbon prize in his mouth as he made a victory lap around New York’s Madison Square Garden to loud applause.
Going into the Best in Show judging, expectations for Daniel were high, even though he was the underdog—no Golden Retriever has ever won Westminster. Fox Sports even tweeted a video of Daniel with the caption “Is this year!?”
"If the Golden Retriever wins, the roof is going to come off this place," announcer Chris Myers said during the Fox Sports 1 broadcast.
During the Best in Show portion, an audience member yelled at judge Bob Slay as he examined Siba, saying, “No way, Slay, no way!” That didn’t stop Slay from naming the black Standard Poodle the winner.
The results aren’t a big surprise. There was also a similar controversy at last year’s competition, when crowd favorite Bean the Sussex Spaniel lost to King the Wire Fox Terrier. The Wire Fox Terrier is the most successful breed at Westminster with 47 Best in Show wins.
Historically, popular dog breeds have struggled at Westminster. Of the top five breeds in the U.S., which include Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs, only German Shepherds and Bulldogs have won Best in Show, according to the American Kennel Club. Collectively, the two breeds have won a mere four times in the show’s 144-year history—Westminster is the oldest continuous sports event after the Kentucky Derby.
One of the reasons it’s difficult for popular breeds like the Golden Retriever to win the top prize is that there are so many of them, which means more variety in attributes like coat color and size. Having this wide range of variations can make it challenging to establish a breed standard, which is what judges use to assess competitors in dog shows.
The good thing about Westminster is that it is an annual competition, so there’s always next year for a Golden Retriever to try again.