Question of the Week
1 Ladies’ Dog Club – Great start to the summer dog-show circuit in New England. Beautiful grounds, lots of specialties and supported entries, great hospitality from the Ladies in Red.
2. South Shore Kennel Club – Love the Cape in the fall. Variety of events over four days: conformation, obedience, Rally, dock diving, Trick Dog/CGC and lots of specialties and supported entries.
3. AKC National Championship – So much to see and do. So many dogs from all over the country and the world competing. Great Bred-by, Puppy and Juniors competitions.
Baldwin Harbor, New York
#1 - Westminster Kennel Club. Westminster is America's show. It is every breeder’s, owner’s and handler’s dream to win here. Even when we aren't showing, we are always excited to be there stewarding or watching.
#2 - Kennel Club of Philadelphia. Love this show for many reasons. The rings are large, and the club members are hard working and friendly. They do a great job of pulling in spectators (with the help of NBC), promote purebred dogs to the public by being one of the only remaining benched shows, and have a lot of vendors with something for everyone.
#3 - Morris & Essex. Nostalgic. The work that goes into this spectacular show brings you back to the days of pomp and circumstance. The club encourages exhibitors to dress from days gone by. Old vehicles grace the grounds, and everyone seems to really enjoy a piece of the past.
Basking Ridge, New Jersey
The Herding Group Association of New Jersey and Non-Sporting Group of the Garden State, in mid-March, Edison, New Jersey. These are small shows with some wonderful dogs. The small membership works very hard to put this show on. I am show chairman, so I am a little prejudiced. (Thank you, Marjorie.)
Kennel Club of Palm Springs, the beginning of January, Palm Springs, California. I have been privileged to have judged there twice. The setting is absolutely stunning. It draws some of the best dogs in the country. At a time when we in the East need a break, the club goes out of their way to make the show awesome. It runs like a Swiss clock.
Watertown, New York
My most favorite show that I was not involved with has to be Bucks County. It is held on the first Saturday in May and, for many of us, it was a special welcome to spring! Dr. Josephine was in charge of the details, which in itself was a major task, but it is what it takes to create a great event year after year. I need to add that I had the privilege of judging Best there five times. I was never certain if Dr. Jo admired my judging or if the fact that B was alphabetically early in the judges’ directory!
The next two, of course, are Westminster and Santa Barbara. Both shows had a great respect for history and an obligation to maintain that quality. Along with the pageantry and concern for every detail, that easily explains my choices. Adding education to all three again makes them, for me, stand out above the others. New judges from around the world bringing new opinions. And the great majority of these judges, be they local or foreign, were brought forth as exemplary breed judges. The frosting on the cake came later as they proved their merit in the breed ring.
All three shows have all the amenities for dog-show exhibitors. They all have separate and reserved grooming facilities with bathing. All three have plenty of RV and auto parking. Plenty of motels and restaurants nearby. And they usually have coffee and donuts for those exhibitors who have to get up early to be there for early judging. These shows have everything an exhibitor/handler needs.
Huntington Beach, California
Kennel Club of Beverly Hills; Mission Circuit when it was at Pomona Fairgrounds (hope it moves back in September 2023), and any shows at the City of Industry.
Clifton, New Jersey
1. Westminster Kennel Club – A beloved yearly tradition for both fanciers and dog lovers around the world. It is the ultimate dream for any competitor to be recognized at this show.
2. Montgomery County Kennel Club – The one and only place to see both the best Terriers and Terrier people. If you are serious about Terriers, this is your yearly pilgrimage!
3. Woofstock – One of the most unique dog-show experiences in the country. Four huge show days, with tough competition, but somehow the vibe is different in all the best ways! Everyone is more relaxed in both demeanor and dress code. Their motto – peace, love and dogs – holds true.
Newburgh, New York
My three favorite dog show in order are:
1) Montgomery County Kennel Club – The biggest Terrier show in the world! I attended my first one in 1962, and if you have to ask WHY it is my favorite, then you have never been there and you definitely don't know me!
2) Westminister Kennel Club – Because of its prestige and history and the fact that ALL the great dogs wind up there hoping for a win. Also because of its world fame: ALL who are interested in our sport and the wonderful dogs in competition will be there.
3) Louisville Kennel Club – The growth of this whole circuit and the expansion of activities are due to the tremendous amount of effort put in by all the circuit-club members for the comfort of the exhibitors as well as its excellent location. Personally, the fact that the American Belgian Griffon Association national specialty is there and that it attracts the largest entry of Griffs is an added huge bonus.
My first favorite show is our national. I really don’t care where it is; I attend every year without fail. I love seeing what everyone else is up to with their breeding programs. Going to the national is the only way I can feel I have a handle on the state of our breed in the U.S. Not that this is always good news, you understand!
I have some very old friends that I only see each year at the national. That is very, very special to me.
My second favorite is the AKC National in Orlando. When I first come in on Tuesday, there’s this rush of camaraderie. There are 10,000 crazy dog people here, just like me. That’s always a good thing! I love all the pomp and circumstance, but mostly l like the feeling of belonging.
My third favorite are the 10 days of Brooksville. It's like a little Camelot, with tents and banners waving, up on the hill. I was part of the team that bought the property in 1998, and it was a hard fight, taking bulldog determination, but we succeeded in the end. Brooksville is a lovely site, and beautifully maintained; I couldn’t be prouder.
Easley, South Carolina
1. Brooksville, Florida, combined shows because of large entries, good judges, great show site for motorhome parking and good weather.
2. Perry, Georgia, spring shows. Large entry, great judges, great show site for motorhome parking and good weather.
3. Raleigh, North Carolina, spring shows. Great entry, great judges, great show site and good motorhome parking.
All three show sites are in safe areas and have easy Interstate access. There are other small shows that are also my favorites.
San Diego, California
Best shows by far are the Kennel Club of Palm Springs the first weekend in January in Indio, California. Thursday and Friday are packed with specialties preceding the Saturday and Sunday all-breed shows.
The grounds are beautiful with large rings. Vendors and eateries are on site. Plenty of parking and loading areas!
San Leandro, California
In order of preference:
1. Westminster Kennel Club
2. AKC National Championship
3. Santa Barbara Kennel Club
If you love seeing great dogs, these are the shows to attend! If you’re willing to travel, toss in Crufts and the FCI World shows.
I can’t name only three. Just can’t. I have so many fond memories for different reasons. The first show I remember driving to with my mother Ann Serak was Dubuque Kennel Club, and so that will always be special. Years later, the first weekend of the year for Rollie and me, in our area, was Wheaton and Wisconsin Kennel Clubs, and I recall the excitement of going to those two shows after a long Christmas break. Then in the spring there was Fond Du Lac, Sheboygan, Decatur, Madison, Manitowoc, Racine – all unique and lovely. Waukesha was a very important summer weekend, with majors in everything. We always loved the Springfield, Illinois, shows in the fall in the beautiful old building. I recall the simplicity of going to Morris, Illinois, and discussing dogs by the x-pens with fellow handlers after the show, surrounded by cornfields.
I can’t talk about great shows without mentioning Morris & Essex and Westminster, phenomenal events.
Finally, there are special memories attached to every national specialty I ever participated in. I hope by reviving Dubuque KC and Wisconsin KC, we can create some special memories in Madison for future generations and become somebody’s favorite someday.
Staten Island, New York
Bucks, love the location. Although not a small show, it gives me the feeling of one. Being surrounded by beautiful trees and mountains adds to an enjoyable experience. Kudos to the membership, as through the years they are constantly improving, even in little ways, to make this lovely show better and better.
Somerset Hills. As large as this show is – and it's definitely large – the membership never fails to be helpful and friendly. Whether you are a top handler or a new exhibitor, someone is always willing to help you get to where you are going. Love the Pee Wee event held each year, and the different ways this show works to introduce the public to the wonderful world of dogs.
Hatboro. Since recently moving to Macungie, Pennsylvania, this has become a favorite of mine. Great layout of rings, numerous concessions, friendly, helpful club members. I appreciate the way the club adapted so well to the site move, which in my opinion made it more exhibitor and handicapped friendly.
Nothing better, or more exciting, than attending your breed's national specialty, no matter the location.
Peach Blossom Cluster in Perry, Georgia - Typically great judging panels and oh-so-many things to do with your dog. Conformation, Rally, obedience, FastCAT, CAT, Barn Hunt, CGC, Trick Dog, dock diving, agility, health clinics – need I say more?
AKC/Royal Canin National Championship week in Orlando, Florida - A truly magical week of celebration of the purebred dog.
Crufts… what’s not to love? Thousands of amazing dogs, worldwide exhibitors, fabulous shopping and Thornton’s Special Toffee.
AKC Invitational … Same as Crufts, but sadly without the toffee.
West Volusia Kennel Club … My local kennel club: amazing hospitality, good judging panels, easy to get to.
Anne Marie Kubacz
Jackson, New Jersey
Number one has to be the Irish Setter Club of America National Specialty – it's our family reunion and combines so much over the week! Usually starts off with our agility trial Monday, then obedience and rally during the day on Tuesday, and either a breeder- or health-education seminar in the late afternoon.
Sweeps judging begins Wednesday, which is also the day of our health clinic. The health clinic provides Irish Setter breeders and owners with very reasonable prices for some testing, and – if people are willing to publish the results on the OFA website – free thyroid testing via Michigan State University and on-site OFA exams. So proud of the Irish Setter Club of America Foundation for sponsoring these free tests, as they can be hard to find and expensive. Thursday is regular class-dog judging and Top 20 and awards dinner, Friday is bitch judging and a great hospitality and party, and it culminates on Saturday with Best of Breed. Having the judging schedule spread out gives us lots of time to socialize and enjoy each other. Since our national specialty this year is in Greeley, Colorado, there are many people camping in their motorhomes/trailers or rented rigs – many pot-luck gatherings will be hosted. I invite everyone!
Number two is Westminster Kennel Club. Love seeing dogs from all around the country, and in some cases from around the world, converge for a truly incredible dog-show experience.
Number three for me are the Wine Country shows at Samson Lake State Park. We host a huge gathering at our campsite, and it's so great to see our friends from Canada as well as from all over the United States. The show site is beautiful, the clubs work together to give everyone a great experience, and what's not to love about going to some wineries for wine tasting?
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Westminster Kennel Club – Nostalgia and tradition is probably the best description. People from all over the world come together to celebrate the new and the old. This allows us the opportunity to get dressed up, go to the theater, and experience new culinary delights with people we don’t always have the opportunity to see.
Montgomery County Kennel Club – Still remains to be one of the greatest weekends of the year, anywhere. If you haven’t been, go – it’s just magic.
Poodle Club of America – Though it doesn’t have the same allure it once had when it was at Ludwig’s Corner, Pennsylvania, it’s still a sight to behold. This being my own breed, my national certainly holds a close space to my heart. It’s also conflicting in the sense of so many memories of people we’ve lost over the years, many far before their time.
Top of my list is the Vermont circuit – so much fun and gorgeous! Bucks County. And the Westminster Kennel Club.
Island Lake, Illinois
#1 Morris and Essex ... I have so much fun at those shows! They are a classic and top notch! I'm already hat shopping for the next one.
#2 Westminster Kennel Club ... Just because ... I mean, c'mon ... it’s Westminster.
#3 Poodle Club of America ... I've never been, but it’s on my bucket list.
Pointe-aux-Roches, Ontario, Canada
Humm ... after the pandemic and perhaps reminiscing ...
1. Badgerland Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, held in Menasha, Wisconsin. Homey, welcoming, excellent food at all times provided by the members for the exhibitors with world-class judges. They have fun with the show and always provide a welcoming ambiance with the added opportunity to learn. Brings back memories of shows in the 1970s that drew me to the sport.
2. Kennel Club of Chicago at McCormick Place. That event center and the city drew me, in despite the waits to get in and out.
3. Societe Canine du Quebec held in Quebec City. Another small show whose few members look to details to make the experience fun, inviting and memorable. The fact it is in one of the most inviting cities in Canada does not hurt.
New Orleans, Louisiana
First would be the Westminster Kennel Club; you can see the top dogs and the new dogs coming up for the next year. Second would be the Pekingese Club of America national, to see what other breeders are breeding. Third would be Atlanta Kennel Club – very spacious and lots of good vending.
Brookville, New York
Montgomery County, by far my number-one choice. Going as far back to the mid-1970s, being an exhibitor at the greatest Terrier show in the world (in my opinion) was and still is a thrill. Watching Terriers compete and visiting with fellow Terrier breeders and spectators from here in the U.S. and abroad gives us all a chance to share our Terrier thoughts. Of course, winning the breed at Montgomery puts the breeder/owner over the top until the following year.
#2: Need I say more? Westminster is the star show all canine enthusiast exhibitors/breeders and owners strive to attend. Back in the day, handling my own class Norfolk was a thrill, and earning a breed ribbon in the confines of Madison Square Garden was a heart stopper.
#3 Long Island Kennel Club. As president of the LIKC, I put my heart and soul into what has become our little show; no longer the show of yesteryear. Our entries have been down for years, but the enthusiasm of the club members continues, with each pitching in to make the day grand. If you live here on Long Island and the surrounding areas, we welcome you to the show. LIKC firmly feels we are a show for the community of spectators to come, ask questions and admire the canines in the ring.
- My breed's national specialty. Always. Every year. Where better to see both the "state of the breed" and the "best of the breed" and have the opportunity to learn from mentors and engage with newcomers to the breed.
- Hound Classic at Silverado, California, every April. Fantastic, well-attended specialties, lots of possibilities for ringside mentoring, and what a beautiful setting!
- Waiting to fill #3 until I have more opportunities to explore the options. I've not been to Palm Springs yet, which I hear may be a contender. Same with Great Western Terrier, and Montgomery, the latter of which often conflicts – alas – with my national-specialty week. And both Orlando and Westminster are in the mix.
Patrick C. Byrne
Kansas City, Kansas
Heart of America Kennel Club hosts five days of shows, housed in a commodious arena with more than ample grooming and parking. Easy highway access, welcoming staff and multiple specialties.
Number two is Palm Springs. A spectacular natural setting for a truly elegant show.
Number three is the St. Louis Kennel Club, given in the wonderful, purpose-built Purina venue, with an excellent food vendor sequestered in a glass-front dining room that allows a visual of the rings but blocks out the normal noise of the show. In addition, there are spacious on-site suites for seminars.