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The Westminster TOP 10 List

By Amy Fernandez

Who doesn’t love those final countdowns? Every sport’s got ‘em. This one probably has more than it needs, but this one never loses its luster… Thankfully, we’re no longer agonizing about who got into Westminster and who didn’t. But this year the final tally easily reached the 2800 dog limit. We’ve got 2879 dogs representing 203 breeds hauling in from all 50 states. Along with plenty of competitors from Canada and Mexico, we’ve got customers from Russia, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea, Peru, Lithuania, Japan, and Germany. Nice,very nice. That parses out to:

540 Sporting

451 Working

429 Hounds

397 Herding

353 Toys

310 Terriers

321 Non-Sporting

So where the big did numbers land?

This year is tricky. It seems that we’ve got a couple of ties. Let’s work our way up and build the suspense. But first I want to highlight the truly awesome turnout in several breeds. We’ve got 27 15-inch Beagles, 24 Bostons, 26 Cardigans, 23 Pembrokes, 19 Airedales and 14 Pumik. These breeds are trending and that is good news by any definition.

So, back to the big winners. Slotted in to tenth place is a traditional Westminster top draw: the Siberian Husky with a Specials breakdown of 17 dogs/11 bitches and two class bitches adding a semblance of reality to package. Presiding over this entry will be Mrs. Vicki Seiler-Cushman. Siberians made Westminster history in 1980 when Ch. Innisfree’s Sierra Cinnar broke through to the top with the youngest Westminster BIS handler at the other end of the lead. Mrs. Seiler-Cushman likewise made some history along those lines handling her Siberian to Group Fourth when she was just 14. As a professional handler in 1990, she took the group with Ch. Skansens I Have a Dream. She’s done plenty winning at Westminster but this will be her first encounter from the judge’s side.

Two breeds from different ends of the sport tallied up entries of 32. Flat Coated Retrievers, one of the oldest and most traditional Retriever breeds, pulled 31 specials, 16 dogs/15 bitches, along with one valiant class dog entry. Okay I’m weird, but I plan to be there cheering on this stalwart, diehard breed for a job well done. Paying closer attention will be Ms. Debra Thornton. She earned her stripes in Newfoundlands back in 1982 with Cypress Bay, a name that needs no introduction, even for those outside the Newfoundland loop. She’s bred over 100 champions under that banner including many top ten dogs and National Specialty winners. This is also her first Westminster assignment. All in all, considering her background and the historical link between Flat Coats and Newfs, this is going to be an excellent visual.

Bulldogs likewise drew an entry of 32, with a 20-11 Specials breakdown, and another lone class dog. The entry isn’t surprising considering the name and fame of the judge. After 50+ years, Cody Sickle is basically synonymous with Bulldogs. His barebones credentials include 193 homebred champions that have captured 43 BIS wins and way over 500 specialties. He’s done plenty of Westminster winning dating back to the 1965 Junior Showmanship finals. (I bet he devotes his spare time to Bulldogs.)

Two breeds also tied for eighth place with 38 entries each. Australian Shepherds have racked up big numbers in the American show ring since their rare breed days. This year’s judge, Ms. Sheree Moses, has an equally long history in Herding breeds, starting as a Schutzhund competitor in her teens. She is, of course, much better known for the many top winning German Shepherds out of her breeding that have been campaigned to historic records over the years.

Cavaliers have also consistently topped Toy Group entries since they entered the fray in 1995. Throw in a breeder/judge and you have got some very nice numbers, like 28 specials and 10 competitors in the classes. Elaine Lessig has been knocking around the east coast Cavalier scene since 1987, winning groups and specialties before signing into the judge loop in 1999. She currently judges Sporting, Toy, and Non-Sporting breeds.

Considering the breed’s popularity and this judge’s local fame, I recommend getting a spot early if you intend to watch. You know she’s gonna have a mind blowing hat for this occasion!

Seventh place is another lovely surprise from the Sporting Group – 40 Vizslas. Like many Sporting breeds this one is way overdue for more time in the spotlight. And that moment arrives on Tuesday at 8 a.m. when Mrs. Cindy Vogels brings down the gavel on 36 specials and 4 class dogs. She’s best known in Terriers, having started in Wheatens back in the ‘60s, breeding over 100 champions under her Andover prefix. She’s also had remarkable success in Welsh, Norfolk, and Kerry Blues. Nor is she any newcomer to the frontlines of Westminster judging. She did the Terrier Group back in 2005 and, of course, presided over BIS in 2012. She knows what she’s doing. This will be good.

Ridgebacks are typically well supported at Westminster and this year they squeaked into sixth place with a total entry of 41 for the intrepid Bill Shelton who seems to be gunning for his own popularity rating this year, drawing two record setting entries. You might describe him as dog crazy from birth. One of his early mentors was none other than the legendary Hollywood trainer, Bill Koehler. He began handling professionally in 1978. That, as well as his subsequent judging career, can only be described as colorful and wide ranging. In his spare time, he founded the famed Coventry Pembrokes, which has also garnered a hefty slice of success and recognition. There’s never a dull moment around Bill Shelton so don’t miss the Ridgeback ring, Monday at 12:00.

But if you do happen to miss it, never fear because Bill Shelton will once again take center stage bright and early Tuesday morning to preside over 53 Bernese Mountain Dogs in Ring 8 at 8 a.m. sharp. Fifty specials, 25 in each sex – that’s practically a national specialty!

But, that’s getting ahead of the story. Fifth in our entry top ten goes to Labrador Retrievers with a total entry of 47. That breaks down to 31 specials and 16 class dogs for Mrs. Kendall Herr who has been sizing up Labradors since 1963 and breeding generations of famed winners along the way under the Dickendall prefix. Even if you’re clueless about Labs, you have most likely heard of the famous Arnold, Ch. Dickendall Arnold, a multiple specialty winner and sire of 110 American champions. Mrs. Herr has judged in the U.S., Canada, Wales, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Brazil, Colombia, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Mexico. This, however, is her first Westminster assignment.

I don’t know what Westminster was thinking with these godawful 8:00 ring times, but we seem to have plenty of them on this list. Frenchies clocked into fourth place with a total entry of 48. This one’s interesting because in addition to the usual overloaded specials class (18-16), we’ve got some real action at ground level with six class dogs and eight bitches. Yes indeed, it will be a nice early wake up call for Mr. Michael J. Dougherty. You might say that dogs have been a longtime Dougherty family enterprise. Along with his father, Jack, he had decades of breeding, handling, and judging date back to the early ‘60s. In addition to those remarkable credentials, Michael has been around the block as a Westminster judge. Some of his standout assignments include the 2007 Hound Group and Best in Show in 2013.

We already covered third place, so on to this year’s runner up, 57 Golden Retrievers. Honestly, we knew they were landing somewhere the top of this list. Always, like Led Zepplin and trench coats, this breed never goes out of style. Needless to say, if you are expecting a reasonable spectator experience, show up about five breeds ahead of time. But that’s not the only reason to get a good viewing spot. We’ve got a rock star of the NY dog world directing this show. Breeder, handler, judge Michael Canalizo has been there AND done that. Michael earned his stripes in Afghans, Triumph, Tryst… setting records, breaking records–all in a day’s work here. There’s no question that he knows his dogs. This is going to be wonderful, and hey, at least it’s not scheduled for 8 a.m.

Some critics may say that Dachshunds topped this list based on a technicality. Yes, there’s a little contentious math involved in that whopping grand total of 76. Even so, every variety is pulling its weight with 27 Smooths and Wires and 26 Longhairs.

And who doesn’t love Dachshunds. Better yet, presiding over this wiener roast will be another local legend, Brooklyn resident Dr. Donald Sturz, Jr. He’s been making his mark on the sport since his Junior days ranking as top Junior Handler for three consecutive years from 1974-76. So we can expect to see military precision in handling this record turnout. Sturz has judged since 1990 and it seems like he’s always doing Westminster. But I checked, this will actually be his ninth assignment. Of course, he’s done two groups, the Hound Group in 2006 and the Sporting Group in 2010. Looks like he’s ready to face off against this Teckel invasion.

As you know, Westminster 143 kicks off on Monday February 11th but don’t be thinking you can lie around till then. The fun begins Saturday, February 9 with the 6th Annual Masters Agility Championship along with the ever-popular Meet the Breeds over at the Piers. In case you can’t make it, check it out on FOX from 2-4:30 p.m. followed by live coverage of the show from 1 to 4 EST Monday and Tuesday along with Group and BIS judging starting at 7:00 each night on FS1. For the complete viewing schedule and lots of other details visit

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Posted by on Feb 1 2019. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • July 2019