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The Westminster Kennel Club Announces Judging Panel For 149th Annual Dog Show Making Its Highly Anticipated Return To Manhattan In 2025

Champion breeder and owner-handler Paula Nykiel will crown Best In Show at Madison Square Garden on February 11, 2025

New York, NY (June 14, 2024) — The Westminster Kennel Club is thrilled to announce the Best In Show judge and judging panel for the 149th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Presented by Purina Pro Plan. America’s most prestigious dog show will make its anticipated return to two iconic venues in New York City on February 8, 10 & 11, 2025—Madison Square Garden (MSG), Westminster’s original home—which will host group judging and the Best in Show Ceremony, and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (Javits Center) for additional events. Mrs. Paula Nykiel of Washington, Missouri will select America’s Dog at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” on the evening of Tuesday, February 11.

Veteran breeder and owner-handler Paula Nykiel has been involved with the sport of purpose-bred dogs for nearly 50 years. She has bred over 50 Pointer Champions under her Sydmar banner, including the breed’s all-time top producer, Ch. Sydmar the Heartless Wench. Paula owner-handled her Pointers to the #1 ranking in 1978, 1979, and 1982.

She transitioned to judging in 1990 and has since judged 33 National Specialties in the Sporting, Hound, and Working Groups. International assignments have included Sweden, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, and Mexico.

Paula is a lifetime member of the American Pointer Club, a current member of the Judges Education Committee, and a founding and lifetime member of the Missouri Rhineland Kennel Club and the Gateway Sporting Dog Association.

The 2025 Best In Show assignment will be Paula’s ninth at Westminster. She previously judged the Sporting Group in 2005 and 2017, as well as the Working Group in 2009 and 2023. Recently, Paula received the esteemed “Judge of the Year” honor in the 2023 Show Dogs of the Year Awards.


Seven Group Judges will make their selections over two nights at Madison Square Garden with their winning dogs advancing to the Best In Show competition.

On Monday, February 10, the following judges will select four Group winners to advance to the Best In Show competition: Mr. Harold Tatro, III of Crowley, TX for the Hound Group; Mrs. Angela Pickett of Chuluota, FL for the Toy Group; Mrs. Vicki Seiler-Cushman of Xenia, OH for the Non-Sporting Group; and Ms. Janina K. Laurin of Ashford, CT for the Herding Group.

On Tuesday, February 11, the following judges will select the remaining three Group winners to advance to Best In Show: Mrs. Virginia Murray of Island Lake, IL for the Sporting Group; Dr. Niksa Lemo of Zagreb, Croatia for the Working Group; and Mr. David Kirkland of Sanford, NC for the Terrier Group.

On the heels of celebrating its 90th anniversary in May 2024, the Junior Showmanship competition at Westminster, which highlights and supports the dedicated youth in the sport of dogs, and Junior Showmanship Finals judge Ms. Elizabeth Jordan-Nelson of Sacramento, CA will name the Best Junior Handler on Tuesday, February 11 at MSG. The eight junior showmanship finalists will be determined in preliminary rounds by judges Mr. Adam Peterson of Seagrove, NC, and Mrs. Kellie Williams of Riverview, FL

The 12th Annual Masters Agility Championship Presented by Purina Pro Plan takes place at the Javits Center on Saturday, February 8, and will be judged by Mrs. Michele Fletcher of Pikeville, TN, and Mr. Paul Moore of Welford Northants, England.

The judging panel for the Best of Breed or Variety competitions includes:


Mr. Joseph Buchanan of Drexel Hill, PA: Basenjis, Cirnechi dell’Etna, Greyhounds, Ibizan Hounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Whippets.

Mrs. Linda Clark of Tulsa, OK: Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Ms. Patricia Cruz of Coram, NY: Borzois, Scottish Deerhounds.

Mr. Laurent Heinesche of Klaukkala, Finland: Norwegian Elkhounds.

Mr. Ryan Lee Horvath of Oakland, CA: Basset Hounds, Beagles (both varieties), Dachshunds (all varieties).

Mr. Juan Miranda of Mexico City, MX: American English Coonhounds, American Foxhounds, Azawakhs, Black and Tan Coonhounds, Bloodhounds, Bluetick Coonhounds, English Foxhounds, Grand Basset Griffon Vendéens, Harriers, Irish Wolfhounds, Otterhounds, Petit Basset Griffon Vendéens, Plotts, Portuguese Podengo Pequenos, Redbone Coonhounds, Sloughis, Treeing Walker Coonhounds.

Dr. Jose Luis Payro of Mexico, D.F., MX: Afghan Hounds, Salukis.


Mr. Larry C. Abbott of Fairview, TX: Affenpinschers, Biewer Terriers, Brussels Griffons, Chihuahuas (both varieties), English Toy Spaniels (both varieties), Toy Manchester Terriers.

Mr. Laurent Heinesche of Klaukkala, Finland: Chinese Cresteds, Maltese, Pomeranians, Toy Poodles.

Mrs. Tammy K. Jackson of Bristol, CT: Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Papillons, Pekingese, Pugs, Russian Toys.

Ms. Margaret Reed of Wilton, CT: Havanese, Italian Greyhounds, Japanese Chin, Miniature Pinschers, Shih Tzu, Silky Terriers, Toy Fox Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers.


Mrs. Vicki L. Abbott of Fairview, TX: American Eskimo Dogs, Chinese Shar-Pei, Cotons de Tulear, Dalmatians, Lhasa Apsos, Schipperkes, Shiba Inu, Tibetan Terriers, Xoloitzcuintlis.

Mr. Philip Capozzolo of Babylon, NY: Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Chow Chows, French Bulldogs.

Mr. Laurent Heinesche of Klaukkala, Finland: Miniature Poodles, Standard Poodles.

Mr. Jussi Liimatainen of Klaukkala, Finland: Bichon Frisés, Finnish Spitz, Keeshonden, Lowchen, Norwegian Lundehunds, Tibetan Spaniels.


Mr. Larry Adams of St. Louis, MO: Beaucerons, Bergamasco Sheepdogs, Berger Picards, Border Collies, Bouviers des Flandres, Briards, Canaan Dogs, Entlebucher Mountain Dogs, Lancashire Heelers, Miniature American Shepherds, Polish Lowland Sheepdogs.

Mrs. Linda Clark of Tulsa, OK: Australian Cattle Dogs, Australian Shepherds, Bearded Collies, German Shepherd Dogs.

Mr. Jussi Liimatainen of Klaukkala, Finland: Finnish Lapphunds, Icelandic Sheepdogs, Norwegian Buhunds.

Mr. Charles L. Olvis of Lake Wales, FL: Belgian Laekenois, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdogs, Belgian Tervuren, Mudik, Old English Sheepdogs, Pulik, Pyrenean Shepherds, Spanish Water Dogs, Swedish Vallhunds.

Ms. Marilyn Van Vleit of Salem, OR: Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Collies (both varieties), Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Pumik, Shetland Sheepdogs.


Mr. William Alexander of Milton, Ontario, CA: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, English Setters, Gordon Setters, Irish Setters, Irish Red and White Setters, English Springer Spaniels.

Mr. Michael Faulkner of Center Cross, VA: Pointers, German Shorthaired Pointers, German Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas, Weimaraners.

Mr. Jussi Liimatainen of Klaukkala, Finland: Bracci Italiani, Lagotti Romagnoli, Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes, Spinoni Italiani.

Ms. Kathy Lorentzen of Chesaning, MI: Flat Coated Retrievers, American Water Spaniels, Boykin Spaniels, Clumber Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels (all varieties), English Cocker Spaniels, Field Spaniels, Irish Water Spaniels, Sussex Spaniels, Welsh Springer Spaniels.

Ms. Elizabeth Muthard of Lake Wales, FL: Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers.

Mr. Richard W. Powell of Palmyra, PA: Barbets, Brittanys, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Curly Coated Retrievers, Wirehaired Pointing Griffons, Wirehaired Vizslas.


Mrs. Sioux Forsyth Green of Pinehurst, NC: Bernese Mountain Dogs, Black Russian Terriers, Boerboels, Great Pyrenees, Mastiffs, Neapolitan Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs, Tibetan Mastiffs.

Mr. Laurent Heinesche of Klaukkala, Finland: Dogos Argentinos, Dogues de Bordeaux, Great Danes, Samoyeds, Siberian Huskies.

Ms. Victoria M. Jordan of The Villages, FL: Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, Bullmastiffs, Cane Corsos, Chinooks, Doberman Pinschers.

Mr. Jussi Liimatainen of Klaukkala, Finland: German Pinschers, Komondorok, Kuvaszok.

Mr. Jay Richardson of Elgin, IL: Boxers, Giant Schnauzers, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Leonbergers, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards, Standard Schnauzers.


Mr. Larry C. Abbott of Fairview, TX: Standard Manchester Terriers.

Mr. Randy E. Garren of Apex, NC: Australian Terriers, Bedlington Terriers, Border Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Glen of Imaal Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Sealyham Terriers, Skye Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Welsh Terriers, West Highland White Terriers.

Mr. Jussi Liimatainen of Klaukkala, Finland: Smooth Fox Terriers, Wire Fox Terriers, Norfolk Terriers, Norwich Terriers.

Mr. Richard W. Powell of Palmyra, PA: American Hairless Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Cesky Terriers, Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Rat Terriers.

Mrs. Allison Corn Sunderman of Hanover, MI: Airedale Terriers, Bull Terriers (both varieties), Irish Terriers, Kerry Blue Terriers, Lakeland Terriers, Miniature Bull Terriers, Parson Russell Terriers, Russell Terriers, Scottish Terriers, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers.

Additional event information including ticket sales, partner hotel listings, FOX Sports broadcast and streaming schedules, and more are available at westminsterkennelclub.org. Be sure to follow The Westminster Kennel Club on social media to keep up on event news and special announcements.

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