Terriers, Toys, and Thanksgiving Day

By Lily Bourne

Thanksgiving morning: a special time full of excitement, family, and of course, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Once the Rockettes conclude their iconic kick line and the last floats around into Macy’s Herald Square, many non-football viewers shut off their televisions and fall into a lull that quickly dampens the holiday spirit. However, there is a perfect solution for those looking for adorable entertainment to play in the background of their Thanksgiving day preparations: the National Dog Show

The National Dog Show, sanctioned by The Kennel Club of Philadelphia, began its tradition of airing on Thanksgiving at noon in 2002, conveniently timed right after the Macy’s parade ends. Up to 2,000 dogs of 209 different breeds compete for the title of Best in Show. Each dog is separated into one of seven groups: Terrier, Toy, Working, Sporting, Hound, Non-Sporting, or Herding. The AKC – American Kennel Club—originally simply classified dogs into sporting or non-sporting, but eventually, hounds, terriers, and herding split off from the sporting group, and toys and working split off from the non-sporting group. Now, the non-sporting group includes dogs that do not fit into any of the other categories, with popular examples including the Dalmatian, French Bulldog, and Poodle. 

Judges place dogs according to “how closely each dog compares with the judge’s mental image of the perfect dog as described in the breed’s official standard,” with the main considerations being based on appearance, temperament, and structure. Each contestant attempting to win Best in Show must first beat out all other dogs of the same breed, earning Best in Breed over sometimes 100 other possible winners. Then, each of the 209 breeds is placed into the seven categories mentioned before and judged within those to determine First in Group. After that, the final seven lucky dogs will compete for the coveted title of Best in Show. This year’s Best in Show winner was Winston, a French Bulldog from the non-sporting group owned by none other than Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Morgan Fox. The other Best in Group dogs were, in my opinion, just as adorable; Nate the Tree Walker Coonhound, Cooper the English Toy Spaniel, River the German Shepherd, Sloane the Irish Water Spaniel, and Reus the Alaskan Malamute. 

To spice up the show this year, NBC journalist Steve Kornacki, famous for his tireless coverage of the United States presidential and midterm elections, broke down past Best in Show statistics on his infamous big board. Interestingly, he found that Terriers and Hounds are by far the most common groups to win Best in Show, with their most common breed winners being the Wire Fox Terrier and Scottish Deerhound respectively. Not only that, but he found that the only back-to-back winner of the National Dog Show was Claire the Scottish Deerhound in 2020 and 2021, but she, unfortunately, did not make an appearance this year to defend her title. 

All in all, if you are looking for a new tradition to add some entertainment and cuteness to your Thanksgiving morning, the National Dog Show is the perfect program, so make sure to look out for it next year!