Dog shows have been a popular exhibition for over 160 years. These runway events typically fall into three categories: all-breed, group shows, and specialty shows. All-breed shows are fully inclusive, as the name implies. Group shows focus on one of the seven main show dog types. Specialty shows zero in on one specific breed like the Shih Tzu or breed-type like the beautiful Harlequin Great Dane. Our list of the top seven best show dogs is a collection of scene-stealing champions that are obedient and groomed to perfection.
The history of dog shows predates the 20th century, with some events as early as the 1800s. Since then, dog shows have remained popular as a stage for fantastic breeds. Judging in these events typically involves three judges who compare entrants to established breed standards. These include build, personality, and overall appearance.
The seven major dog types have been established as follows: working, herding, hound, sporting, non-sporting, terrier, and toy. Within each of the groups, dogs of the 200+ recognized breeds compete against each other. The most typical dog show is a confirmation evaluation that selects champions based on breed standards.
So, which breeds take the cake when it comes to walking the walk? Our sources helped us rank the best show dog breeds. These are the pups that have taken the most coveted title of “Best in Show.” These prize-winning pooches are all worthy of their decorated legacies. Let us know your favorite show dogs in the comments below!
The List: Best Show Dog Breeds, According to Experts
1. Wire Fox Terrier
The Westminster Kennel Club is perhaps the most respected American Dog Show, and it was established in 1877. Wire Fox Terriers have won more “Best in Show” titles than any other breed. Wag! raves, “The Wire Fox Terrier is no doubt the favorite pup at the dog show. They have an appearance similar to the Smooth Fox Terrier, but differ in their bent ears and a thick, curly coat.”
Reader’s Digest praises, “In general, terriers have done extraordinarily well at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. In fact, they’ve taken home a whopping 34 wins over the show’s history which equates to about 30 percent. Of all the terrier variations, Wire fox terriers have won the most with 12 wins total. Their first win came in 1915 and their latest win was 2019.
Newsweek exclaims, “Wire Fox Terriers are smart, agile and responsive, making them a good bet in dog shows. The American Kennel Club describes the breed as a ‘master show dog’ and these dogs have won Best in Show at Crufts three times. Wire Fox Terriers have also taken home an amazing 34 wins in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show too.”
2. Scottish Terrier
Scottish Terriers are stout doggies with a recognizable look. Scotties are always ready for an impressive showing. Vet Street says, “The unmistakable and iconic Scottish Terrier has won Best in Show an astounding eight times. The last Scottie to win was only a couple years ago, Ch. Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot, better known as Sadie, who won in 2010.”
Pet Care Rx describes, “The Scottie Dog is also the only breed to have been the ‘first dog’ at the White House during three different U.S. Presidents‘ administrations. That must be the star qualities those Scottish Terriers are born with along with their innate ‘ruggedness and power.'”
The Scotsman elaborates about the Westminster Dog Show, “It’s the biggest and most prestigious dog show in the USA – and history has taught us that some breeds have a better chance of winning the big prize than others. … The second most successful dog breed at Westminster is a terrier – the Scottish Terrier with eight wins.”
3. English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniels are popular family dogs. They are also strong competitors. Good Housekeeping comments, “This friendly breed has a sturdy build, but with a gentle expression that just says, ‘pet me.’ We love this breed’s long, beautiful coat and friendly personality.”
Wag! adds, “The English Springer Spaniel is a known [contender] of the annual Kennel Club Dog Show, always reaching high marks. These sassy, but obedient pups have a distinct coloring, and long, wavy ears to mark their looks. Thanks to their intelligent and active personalities, they have won the BIS prize six times throughout 1963 to 2007.”
“With their long, feathered coats and unique colorings, the English Springer Spaniel is a popular show dog. Plus, they are highly trainable, eager to please their owners, and excited to work. They tend to be athletic and versatile dogs that can train to compete and excel in a variety of events,” details Greenfield Puppies.
4. Airedale Terrier
The terrier group dominates dog shows. Airedale Terriers were first recognized in 1888. Greenfield Puppies explains, “The Airedale Terrier is the largest dog of the Terrier group. Their unique look and powerful appearance makes them a popular dog breed for dog shows. Additionally, they tend to be agile, athletic, and versatile dogs that enjoy learning new things and competing.”
CNBC offers, “The Airedale is a well-rounded dog and has been used as a messenger, wartime guard and hunter. It was also one of the first breeds used as police dogs in Britain and Germany. The canine has a sweet temperament but will assert itself if challenged.”
The Hollywood Reporter states, “Four Airedale Terriers have won the top prize since 1912. In 1933, Ch. Warland Protector of Shelterock took home the Best in Show title, marking the last time any contestant of the Airedale Terrier breed has won.”
5. American Cocker Spaniel
American Cocker Spaniels are another great family dog. They were first recognized in 1878. Newsweek relates, “American Cocker Spaniels require a great deal of grooming if they have a long, silky show coat. Cockers are best trained using food, which they can’t resist.”
Reader’s Digest claims, “With four total wins, the American Cocker Spaniel comes in fifth with the most Westminster wins. In general, spaniels—including English Springer, American Cocker, Clumber, Irish Water, and Sussex—have earned 13 wins. In addition to being a great showman, the American Cocker spaniel also makes a great pet that gets along very well with children.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The American Cocker Spaniel won for the first time in 1921 and has since been awarded Best of Show a total of four times. Ch. My Own Brucie won two consecutive years in 1940 and 1941.”
Boxer dogs are part of the working group. Muscular and strong, Boxers seem to love the limelight. “Boxers aren’t your typical show dog as they have a very playful and energetic nature that makes them great companions and play buddies. Trained well though, these dogs can remain calm and stay devoted to their owners, allowing them to listen easily,” according to Wag!.
Greenfield Puppies asserts, “The Boxer is a muscular dog with a unique look and a lot of personality. These traits are often one of the reasons they are a popular choice for dog shows. When you look at a Boxer, you can easily tell that they have a lot of power behind them.”
Reader’s Digest evaluates, “It’s not so often we see a household favorite earn the Westminster’s Best in Show, but boxers have earned the first-place prize four times in the show’s history. The breed won in 1947, 1949, 1951, and 1970.”
7. Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinschers are often regarded as excellent security and guard dogs. They are also winners at the dog show. Good Housekeeping alleges, “Bred to accompany a tax collector in Germany, this fearsome breed looks intimidating and all business.”
“The first Doberman to win Best in Show at Westminster was Ch. Ferry v Raufelsen of Giralda in 1939. He was followed by his grandson, Ch. Rancho Dobe’s Storm, who had back-to-back wins in 1952 and 1953 and more recently by Ch. Royal Tudor Wild as the Wind in 1989,” assures Vet Street.
CNBC articulates, “This muscular breed makes an excellent guard dog, but it has also been described as a loving and loyal companion. In fact, Doberman pinschers are nicknamed ‘Velcro dogs’ because they like to stick to their owners. Since the canines are smart and easily trained, they’ve been a popular choice for police and war dogs.”
You might also be interested in:
- Greenfield Puppies
- Reader’s Digest
- Vet Street
- The Hollywood Reporter
- Pet Care Rx
- The Scotsman
- Good Housekeeping
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.