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Congrats to Claire!

By Austin Cannon
November 26, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Bill McCay/NBC

A Scottish deerhound with an impressive show-dog pedigree has won Best in Show at the 2020 National Dog Show

Claire, the 3-year-old whose grandmother Hickory won Best in Show at the 2011 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, ascended from the 538 dogs entered in the competition, which occurred Nov. 14–15 but was broadcast Thanksgiving afternoon on NBC. 

“She is just the picture of elegance,” Best In Show judge Karen Wilson says in a news release.  “Her movement was impeccable, just the best example of a Scottish deerhound.”

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Credit: Courtesy of Bill McCay/NBC

In a smaller, pandemic-altered show, Claire, whose registered name is GCH Foxcliffe Claire Randall Fraser, first beat out the rest of the Scottish deerhounds and then won the hound group to head to the Best in Show ring. (Remember, the dogs are judged on how well they adhere to their breeds’ standards, not against each other.)  

For the Best in Show category, Claire was selected over wire fox terrier Vinny (terrier group), Affenpinscher Chester (toy), English springer spaniel Teddy (sporting), Portuguese water dog Bowie (working), miniature American shepherd Jimmy (herding), and poodle Kam (non-sporting).    

Those other dogs likely lack Claire’s family tree, too. Not only is she the granddaughter of a Westminster winner, but her mother, Chelsea, was named Reserve Best in Show (the second-place finisher) at the 2015 National Dog Show. 

“Claire has so many wonderful traits,” says Angela Lloyd, who handled all three dogs. “She embodies the same qualities [as Hickory and Chelsea]. She is very similar to her grandmother, especially in the eyes.”

Lloyd, of Virginia, co-owns Claire with Cecilia Dove and Dr. Scott Dove. According to the news release from the National Dog Show, the Best in Show victory makes Claire one of the favorites for the titles at Westminster and the American Kennel Club National Championship next month. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Dog Show limited the number of dogs who could enter, so the 538 dogs made up roughly a quarter of the usual 2,000 entrants. The dogs this year represented 173 different breeds.

What’s a Scottish Deerhound?

That’s a good question! They’re not exactly a household breed, ranking No. 149 on the American Kennel Club’s 2019 list of most popular dog breeds. You might mistake them for an Irish wolfhound—to be fair, the two breeds are likely related—but there are a few key ways to tell the difference. 

Centuries ago, the large, fast deerhounds were employed to hunt the giant red deer in the Scottish highlands. That practice has long since gone out of style, but the deerhound’s love of being a human’s companion has remained. 

The hounds these days enjoy a good run or walk outside but will otherwise prefer to hang out inside with their owners. They’re a giant breed—too big for an apartment or small children—but are easy to groom. On the health front, owners do have to watch out for large-dog ailments like bloat.