12 Historic Westminster Best in Show Winners

As the 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show gets ready to kick off this weekend, let's take a step back into its history to see the prestigious dog show's earliest, most groundbreaking, and interesting Best in Show winners.

1. 1907 - 1909: CH. WARREN REMEDY

The Westminster Kennel Club held its first dog show in 1877, but did not introduce the Best in Show award until 1907. The first winner of Best in Show was a female smooth-coated fox terrier named Warren Remedy. Ch. (Champion) Warren Remedy went on to win the title again in 1908 and 1909, too. To date, she is the only dog to have won Westminster's Best in Show three years in a row. The legendary terrier also won a slew of awards at other shows, and her death in 1912 rated a notice in The New York Times [PDF].


Sabine Rarebit was the first male dog to win Best in Show at Westminster, in 1910. Like Warren Remedy, he was a smooth-coated fox terrier, and fans of the breed were surprised when he defeated the previous champion. It was a year of upsets, as several dogs that were expected to win their categories did not, and accusations of poor judging were heard at the show. According to The New York Times [PDF], a fight between two dogs that year led to a brawl when many other dogs joined in:

"The counting of the damage showed the wolf hound minus one of his teeth and the St. Bernard with a mouth that was badly torn. One woman who pressed into the crowd surrounding the fighting animals fainted and was carried into the ring near where the dogs had their fight. The most disappointed person in the Garden was a small boy, who repeatedly called to 'let 'em fight it out.'"


The 1911 Best in Show winner was the male Scottish terrier Tickle Em Jock. Andrew Albright of New Jersey purchased the dog from a London butcher for about $15, and paid a little more for proof of his pedigree [PDF]. Other exhibitors at the show grumbled that Tickle Em Jock wasn't even a good example of his breed, much less deserving of Best in Show. The little dog displayed his rough beginnings later that year by biting a judge right after winning Best in Breed at another show [PDF].


The first bull terrier and the first Canadian dog to win Best in Show at Westminster was Haymarket Faultless. The road to the title was not easy, as the two judges were split and stubbornly holding out for their personal favorites: Haymarket Faultless and a Pekingese named Phantom of Ashcroft. Eventually the judging referee, who was a terrier expert, broke the tie. Haymarket Faultless was the favorite to win Best in Show for the next several years, but he was passed over for other dogs.


Midkiff Seductive was the first cocker spaniel to win Best in Show at Westminster. In a bizarre repeat of the 1918 decision [PDF], the two judges were split between two finalists—the female black-and-white cocker spaniel and Phantom of Ashcroft, the same Pekingese who almost beat Haymarket Faultless three years earlier. The judging referee once again stepped in to break the tie, and awarded Best in Show to the spaniel [PDF].  


Laund Loyalty of Bellhaven was the youngest dog to ever win Westminster's Best in Show, at exactly nine months old. Only one other puppy under a year old has ever won the title (Daro of Maridor in 1938). He is also the only collie to have won the title so far, and in 1929, that meant first competing against the other 120 or so collies entered that year.   

However, Laund Loyalty of Bellhaven never competed in another show after that first big win. Florence Ilch, owner of Bellhaven Collies, claimed the champion collie was the target of death threats. She even claimed that the champion she called Don had been blinded by an acid attack. While some of the threats were documented and attacks against show dogs were not unheard of, there was no veterinary report corroborating the blinding claim.


The first poodle to win Best in Show at Westminster was a male standard poodle named Nunsoe Duc de la Terrace of Blakeen in 1935. The Swiss-born poodle came close to winning the title at Westminster in 1934, but was defeated by Ch. Flornell Spicy Bit of Halleston. By the next year, Duc had won titles in England, Switzerland, and France, and was able to sweep the field at Westminster.     


Terriers from Halleston Kennels won numerous awards in the early 20th century, including three wire fox terriers which received Best in Show awards at Westminster. Signal Circuit of Halleston won Westminster's Best in Show in 1926, Flornell Spicy Bit of Halleston won in 1934, and Flornell Spicy Piece of Halleston was named Best in Show in 1937. The two "spicy" dogs were not related, but of all the Westminster champions, Flornell Spicy Piece of Halleston might just have the best name of all.     


Dwight Ellis raised hunting dogs for years before getting into dog shows. In 1936, he purchased the champion English setter Sturdy Max—the advertising face of Sturdy Dog Food—for his Maridor Kennels. Sturdy Max sired a litter that included the setters Dora, Mora, Daro, and Maro. In 1938, Daro of Maridor entered his very first dog show, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and at 10 months of age became only the second dog under a year old to win Best in Show. Unfortunately, Daro contracted distemper at the show, and although he survived, Ellis gave up on dog shows after that experience. Daro went on to win several other awards for other kennels.      


Ferry v Rauhfelsen of Giralda was the first Doberman pinscher to win Best in Show at Westminster. The breed was controversial, and Ferry was no help to its reputation. The judge who awarded him Best in Show could not touch him, and others reported that he was “a rowdy and vicious one.” Still, he won several other championships, and his offspring, while few, won awards as well.


It was only in 1933 that miniature poodles become officially recognized in the U.S. as a breed distinct from standard poodles. Pitter Patter of Piperscroft was the first miniature poodle to win Best in Show at Westminster. The cute little dog is also in the running for the best-named dog ever.


Shirkhan of Grandeur was the first Afghan hound, and indeed the first hound of any kind, to take the top honor at Westminster. At the time, TIME Magazine wrote:

"It was abundantly clear to the 11,000 spectators at Madison Square Garden and to the thousands who watched the Westminster Kennel Club show on television last week that the aristocratic Afghan, Ch. Shirkhan of Grandeur, had a marked advantage over his five competitors for best of show. The others walked or trotted, ran or cantered like dogs. Shirkhan moved like a king."

The next Afghan hound to win Best in Show was Ch. Kabiks The Challenger in 1983, whose pedigree listed Ch. Shirkhan of Grandeur in several places.

All images are courtesy of the Westminster Kennel Club.

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Owning a Dog May Add Years to Your Life, Study Shows
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We've said that having a furry friend can reduce depression, promote better sleep, and encourage more exercise. Now, research has indicated that caring for a canine might actually extend your lifespan.

Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being. A new paper published in Scientific Reports and conducted by Uppsala University in Sweden looked at the health records of 3.4 million of the country's residents. These records typically include personal data like marital status and whether the individual owns a pet. Researchers got additional insight from a national dog registry providing ownership information. According to the study, those with a dog for a housemate were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause during the study's 12-year duration.

The study included adults 40 to 80 years old, with a mean age of 57. Researchers found that dogs were a positive predictor in health, particularly among singles. Those who had one were 33 percent less likely to die early than those who did not. Authors didn't conclude the exact reason behind the correlation: It could be active people are more likely to own dogs, that dogs promoted more activity, or that psychological factors like lowered incidences of depression might bolster overall well-being. Either way, having a pooch in your life could mean living a longer one.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

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