Westminster Dog Show 2023: How To Watch 1 of America's Oldest Sporting Events
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show returns this month—back to New York City.
After two pandemic-altered shows at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, N.Y., Westminster's 147th edition will be held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens. The main conformation show will be broadcast Monday and Tuesday, but other competitions and events start over the weekend.
Here's how to catch all the action, how the show works, and which breeds to keep an eye on.
When Is the 2023 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?
The slate of events begins Saturday, May 6, and runs through Tuesday, May 9. The agility, obedience, and dock-diving competitions are scheduled for Saturday during Westminster's Canine Celebration Day.
Judging for the conformation show will begin Monday and lasts through Tuesday, culminating in the Best in Show ring Tuesday night. The junior showmanship competition—in which kids 9-18 are judged on their dog-handling skills—also runs Monday and Tuesday.
How to Watch the 2023 Westminster Dog Show
If you watch live television through cable, satellite, or a streaming service, you can watch much of the show on FOX and FS1. (Some of the breed judging and obedience and agility events will be streamed on the Westminster website.)
The main primetime broadcast on Monday, May 8, begins at 7 p.m. eastern time on FS1. That night will feature group judging for the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding groups. The Tuesday broadcast also starts at 7 p.m. eastern on FS1 and includes judging for the Sporting, Working, and Terrier groups before concluding in the Best in Show ring.
You can also stream the action on the FOX Sports app.
How Does the Westminster Dog Show Work?
The most important thing to remember in a conformation dog show is the dogs are judged against their breeds' standards—written guidelines, maintained by the breed's parent group, that describe the ideal features of the breed. So, the dogs aren't really competing against each other. Judges decide which dogs most closely match their breed's standards.
Thousands of dogs from more than 200 breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club are eligible to compete. At first, each dog competes for the Best of Breed title. So, all the Great Danes show together in one group, for example, and the judge decides which one of them best conforms to the breed standard.
The Best of Breed winners are then allocated into the seven groups: Herding, Hound, Non-Sporting, Sporting, Terrier, Toy, and Working. Continuing with our example, the Great Dane would compete in the Working Group. The dogs are again measured against their breed standards.
Seven dogs each win their group and advance to the final ring. This year, Elizabeth Sweigart will judge the group winners and decide who wins Best in Show.
RELATED: 'The Cream of the Crop': How the National Dog Show's Top Judge Evaluates Dogs in the Best in Show Ring
Are There Any New Breeds in 2023?
Just one: the Bracco Italiano. The American Kennel Club recognized the Italian hunting breed back in July, allowing Bracchi to compete in its sanctioned dog shows. You'll find these pups in the Sporting Group.
The Bracco Italiano possesses several classic hunting-dog traits: jowls, long ears, and powerful sniffers. They're pretty big, too, weighing up to 90 pounds and standing about 2 feet high. Bracchi are also social dogs who love playtime when they're not out hunting.
They've long lived in their native Italy, but the Bracco is a rare breed stateside.
Who Won the Westminster Dog Show in 2022?
Trumpet the bloodhound won the 2022 Westminster Dog Show. He was the first bloodhound to win Best in Show in Westminster's 146-year history.
More than 3,000 other dogs entered the show last June at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, N.Y. It culminated when Best in Show Judge Donald Sturz Jr. picked Trumpet, whose registered name is GCHB CH Flessner's Toot My Own Horn.
Will he repeat this year?
Which Dog Will Win Westminster This Year?
Heck if I know. It's hard to pick one winner from more than 2,500 dogs who are separated into 210 categories and then evaluated by judges who have their own preferences and thought processes. A dog can win Best in Show one day and not even win her breed at the next day's show.
That said, it's not like successful show dogs win only by chance. They adhere to their breed standards, show well in the ring, and have a special something to put them over the top. Several of this year's top dogs were invited to Westminster, including:
- Trumpet the bloodhound (last year's winner)
- Winston the French bulldog (last year's runner-up, winner of the 2022 National Dog Show)
- Star the English bulldog (winner of the 2022 AKC National Championship)
- Orca the Lagotto Romagnolo (winner of Crufts 2023)
- Wicked the Doberman pinscher (the top-ranked dog so far this year)
You can also keep an eye on certain breeds, especially if you're planning to fleece your family members in a friendly dog-show wager. Westminster is the second-oldest continuously running sporting event, so we've had a few repeats.