Although the Macy’s parade and the ensuing football game shape Thanksgiving Day across the United States, for many dog lovers it’s The National Dog Show that takes center stage. In its 80th year the Dog Show, which is broadcast right after the parade, features over 3,000 dogs in more than 150 different breeds and has become part of the Thanksgiving Day tradition for breeders and dog enthusiasts nationwide.
For the past two years, the Best in Show has gone to a Scottish Terrier, which is the first time since 1972 for a single breed to take top honors two years in a row. So with over 3,000 nearly perfect specimens in their breed, how could the judges possibly determine the winners? They start with a boilerplate set of criteria for each of the breed categories:
Baseline Judging Criteria
- Balance: overall appropriate proportions in size
- Eyes: color, size, shape
- Ears: shape, length, position
- Head: shape
- Muzzle: shape, length
- Whiskers: thickness
- Teeth: kind of bite (e.g. level or scissors bites)
- Tail: how it arches and sets (e.g. how high or low)
- Shoulders: bone, muscle
- Legs: muscles, stance, proportionality
- Coat: texture, length
- Color: accepted breed colors
As you can imagine, once a dog reaches the National Dog Show level, they already are in the top of their breed. So this is where the hair splitting begins. Judges closely inspect everything from the dog’s bones and muscles to his gait and attitude. The winners are the dogs that most closely match their breed’s criteria (as determined by the American Kennel Club and organizations that specialize in particular breeds).
New Breeds for 2013
The National Dog Show gives everyone a chance to see the newest breeds joining the field of more than 175 American Kennel Club-sanctioned breeds. 2012 saw the introduction of two new breeds, the Russell Terrier, who looks a lot like the Parson Russell Terrier, and the Treeing Walker Coonhound, which is descended of the English and American Foxhounds. This year three new breeds are making their debut: the Chinook, bred as a sled dog in New Hampshire and named the New Hampshire State Dog in 2009; the Rat Terrier, another American breed prized as both a companion and a hunter of vermin and small game; and the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, described as a small, primitive breed that hunts by sight, scent, and hearing.
Actor and television host, John Hurley, brings his unique, wry sense of humor to the National Dog Show. He not only narrates what is happening, but he makes viewers chuckle with his behind-the-scenes look at the show.
Get all the details of this exciting day at the Kennel Club of Philadelphia website. http://nds.nationaldogshow.com/kcp.php