With such grace and style, she’s a proud representation of these fine dogs.
whippet laying in grass
Credit: Fiona McAllister Photography / Getty

Bourbon, a 5-year-old elegant whippet from Sugar Valley Farm and Kennel in Sugar Valley, Ga., received the award of Best in Show at the 20th American Kennel Club (AKC) National Championship Presented by Royal Canin. 

Considered North America's largest dog event, the 2020 National Championship was held over two days in December and aired on ABC Jan. 17th. Deciding judge James A. Moses selected Bourbon as "America's National Champion" out of more than 4,000 competitors, one of which was Claire, a Scottish deerhound who recently claimed the blue ribbon at the 2020 National Dog Show and considered to be a top contender for the AKC's $50,000 prize.

Whippet the dog wins AKC National Championship
Credit: Courtesy of American Kennel Club

Known as the "top-winning whippet in AKC history", Bourbon (whose registered name is GCHP CH Pinnacle Kentucky Bourbon) has more than 100 Best in Show wins to date from various competitions. Co-owned by breeders Justin Smithey and Cheslie Pickett-Smithey, as well as Dr. Kenneth Latimer, Judy Descutner, and Nancy Shaw, Bourbon is also the littermate of the 2018 AKC Best in Show winner, GCHP CH Pinnacle Tennessee Whiskey (Whiskey). 

It's the first time in the history of the AKC National Championship that littermates have won the same coveted prize, and have gone against each other in different events. This is a talented pack of pups!

Here's the Best in Show segment from AKC.tv featuring her triumph.

How Did Bourbon the Whippet Win the AKC National Championship?

Show dog contenders first compete in a series of purebred conformation events which, according to the AKC, "range from large all-breed shows, with over 3,000 dogs entered, to small local specialty club shows that feature only one breed."

  • So, a dog starts with best in breed competitions, which evaluate breed standards. Bourbon first competed against other whippets. It’s not a beauty pageant (although she’s gorgeous!) but more about which dog is the best representation of the AKC's standards for a breed (things like color and markings, or the dog's gait as they trot around the ring). 
  • Then, they advance to best in group events among other pooches classified by the AKC in 7 different groups (such as hound, the group whippets are in) to win the designation of first in group.
  • All first in group winners in the National Championship Best in Show finals “are not necessarily being judged against each other, but individually as dogs that can carry on the best of their breed’s characteristics to the next generation,” according to the AKC. Graceful whippets like Bourbon (smaller than greyhounds but larger than Italian greyhounds) are athletic and robust with calm dispositions and sweet natures. 

Along with Bourbon, this year's Best in Show ring included last year's Best in Show winner, Wasabi, a Pekingese (toy group); Venus, a standard poodle (non-sporting group); Orca, a Lagotto Romagnolo (sporting group); Wilma, a boxer (working group); Dazzle, a Welsh terrier (terrier group); and Sketti, an Australian shepherd (herding group). 

If you missed all the action, check out the AKC site for additional proud pooch winners in other exciting events!

As for Bourbon, her career will likely take her to the 145th annual Westminster Kennel Club Show, slated for June 11-13, 2021. In 2020, she won the hound group there. 

Congratulations, Bourbon! We can't wait to see what she accomplishes next.