Every year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) ranks the most popular dog breeds in America, and every year, representatives of those breeds compete along with many others for “Best in Show” — the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
But did you know that a surprising 11 out of America’s 20 favorite dog breeds have never won Best in Show?
Best in Show isn’t the only title up for grabs at Westminster, though. Most of the dog breeds listed below — all ranked in the top 20 most popular dog breeds in America — have earned quite a few Best of Group awards and consistently placed in the top 4 of their groups.
The Most Popular Dog Breeds That Have Never Won “Best in Show” at Westminster
1. Labrador Retriever
America’s favorite dog for many years now, Labrador Retrievers have done abysmally at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, placing only 11 times but never 1st in their group. A Sporting Group breed, Labs were recognized by the AKC in 1917. That’s 100-plus years in which to accomplish something, Labbies. Perhaps they should spend more time on conformation and less time perfecting their sad Lab faces!
- 2nd Place (4 times): 1933, 1934, 1939, 1978
- 3rd Place: 2016
- 4th Place (6 times): 1964, 1974, 1986, 2003, 2009, 2010
2. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers have done even worse, placing in their group only 5 times since Westminster began. But at least they snagged a single Best of Group, back in 2006. Goldens — who, like Labs, are in the Sporting Group — were officially recognized in 1925, giving them plenty of time. But maybe they were all too busy fetching tennis balls?
- Best of Group: 2006
- 2nd Place: 2009
- 3rd Place (2 times): 2014, 2017
- 4th Place: 2005
3. French Bulldog
A little dog with batlike ears and a distinct underbite, the French Bulldog has never won Best in Show at Westminster — which is pretty sad, considering these dogs have been exhibited there since 1897. The last time a French Bulldog got
Frenchies are playful, alert, affectionate and intelligent with a comical personality and a sweet nature.
Rottweilers, members of the Working Group since 1931, have had no Best in Show wins at Westminster.
The overwhelming winner among all the breeds listed here, Dachshunds have placed many times in the Hound Group, with 11 Best of Groups. There are 3 classes of Dachshunds who compete: Longhaired, Wirehaired and Smooth. (Miniature and Standard Dachshunds compete together in each of these 3 classes.)
The AKC recognized Dachshunds as a breed in 1885, which perhaps accounts for the enduring popularity and relatively high rankings at Westminster.
- Best of Group (11 times): Longhaired (1998, 2019); Wirehaired (1952, 1997, 2012); Smooth (1948, 1951, 1952, 1961, 1968, 1969)
- 2nd Place (11 times): Longhaired (1957, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1975, 1989, 2008); Wirehaired (1978); Smooth (1933, 1937, 1983)
- 3rd Place (16 times): Longhaired (1946, 1954, 1976, 1990, 1991); Wirehaired (2003); Smooth (1926, 1936, 1941, 1950, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1963, 1964, 1967)
- 4th Place (13 times): Longhaired (1943); Wirehaired (1979, 1981, 1986, 1987, 1994, 2007, 2009); Smooth (1935, 1939, 1948, 1949, 1960)
6. Great Dane
One of the oldest-recognized breeds, Great Danes were admitted into the Working Group in 1887. Although they’ve never won Best in Show, they’ve taken home 5 Best of Group ribbons, with a total of 21 placements.
- Best of Group (5 times): 1931, 1933, 1959, 1962, 1983
- 2nd Place (3 times): 1932, 1943, 2000, 1943
- 3rd Place (9 times): 1935, 1941, 1950, 1961, 1968, 1972, 1980, 2005, 2008
- 4th Place (4 times): 1930, 1938, 1977, 1990
7. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Pembroke Welsh Corgis were first recognized by the AKC in 1934 and are a member of the Working Group. Over the years, these pups have picked up a few Best of Group ribbons and more than a dozen other placements. Not too bad.
By the way, the Pembroke’s close cousin, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, which is a member of the Herding Group, has never won Best in Show at Westminster either.
8. Australian Shepherd
Hey, we should cut the Australian Shepherd a little slack — this dog breed has been competing at Westminster only since 1994.
Interestingly enough, Australian Shepherds are not from Australia. They descend from working mountain dogs, who were companions to Basque shepherds from southern France and northern Spain. These smart, exuberant working dogs are members of the Herding Group.
9. Miniature Schnauzer
A completely different breed from the Standard Schnauzer, which won Best in Show in 1997, and the Giant Schnauzer (which very nearly won Best in Show in 2018), the Miniature Schnauzer is a member of the Terrier Group and was recognized in 1926. Since then, the breed has managed to eke out only 1 Best of Group, but it has placed 7 other times, a not altogether dismal showing.
- Best of Group: 1947
- 2nd Place (2 times): 1948, 1960
- 3rd Place (2 times): 1956, 1959
- 4th Place (3 times): 1946, 1975, 2009
10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These gentle, graceful pups — members of the Toy Group — have never won Best in Show at Westminster? That’s crazy! One possible reason: Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are relatively new to the scene, competing at Westminster only since 1997.
11. Shih Tzu
Added to the Toy Group in 1969, Shih Tzus have done remarkably well for a breed that has competed for only the past half century. The breed has garnered an admirable 5 Best of Group placements, as well as 14 other group placements.
- Best of Group (5 times): 1983, 2000, 2001, 2015, 2016
- 2nd Place (4 times): 1973, 1977, 1997, 2003
- 3rd Place (6 times): 1972, 1974, 1979, 1985, 1999, 2010
- 4th Place (4 times): 1971, 1975, 1988, 1991
List of the 20 Most Popular Dog Breeds
Here’s the AKC’s full list of the 20 most popular dog breeds in America, along with each breed’s Best in Show history at Westminster:
- Labrador Retriever (has never won Best in Show)
- German Shepherd Dog (2 wins: 1987, 2017)
- Golden Retriever (has never won Best in Show)
- French Bulldog (has never won Best in Show)
- Bulldog (2 wins: 1913, 1955)
- Beagle (2 wins: 2008, 2015)
- Poodle: Standard (4 wins: 1935, 1958, 1973, 1991); Miniature (3 wins: 1943, 1959, 2002); Toy (2 wins: 1956, 1961)
- Rottweiler (has never won Best in Show)
- Yorkshire Terrier (1 win: 1978)
- German Shorthaired Pointer (3 wins: 1974, 2005, 2016)
- Boxer (4 wins: 1947, 1949, 1951, 1970)
- Siberian Husky (1 win: 1980)
- Dachshund (has never won Best in Show)
- Great Dane (has never won Best in Show)
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi (has never won Best in Show)
- Doberman Pinscher (4 wins: 1939, 1952, 1953, 1989)
- Australian Shepherd (has never won Best in Show)
- Miniature Schnauzer (has never won Best in Show)
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (has never won Best in Show)
- Shih Tzu (has never won Best in Show)
So, why do you think these popular dog breeds have never won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show? Leave your comment below!
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