So far, four finalists have been picked. These fine specimens will be joined by three others for Wednesday night’s finale, where one outstanding canine will be crowned Best in Show.
Fans of televised bathroom accidents and people in suits staring pensively at dog underbellies can catch all of the heart-stopping action live on FS1 (because this is a sport!) or the Westminster Kennel Club website. The festivities start at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Now, on to the dogs! The WKC recognizes 211 different breeds of dog, and the whole point of the competition is to find the dogs that adhere most to their breed’s standards (hence all of the underbelly scrutinizing). The show’s finalists each represent the best of seven different groups of dog breeds: herding, hound, non-sporting, terrier, toy and working. While the four dogs already set to head to the final may vary in size, two virtues bind them together: They’re all very good at being the types of dogs they are, and they all have excellent names.
Hound Group: Trumpet (Bloodhound)
Bloodhounds are “one of the oldest breeds of dogs that hunt by scent,” according to Westminster Kennel Club classifications. A discovery by a trained bloodhound can even be used in a court of law! The American Kennel Club describes the ideal bloodhound expression as “noble and dignified, and characterized by solemnity, wisdom, and power.” Trumpet has nailed it.
Non-sporting Group: Winston (French bulldog)
Ah, Winston. A classic French bulldog name for a classic guy. According to the WKC, Frenchies don’t have a lot of, well, useful skills. But they make up for it by being cute. “Most French Bulldogs excel at being friendly, loving clowns whose raison d’être is to be adored,” their breed description says. Winston’s smiling little face has certainly gotten him far. (Also, one of Winston’s owners is an NFL defensive lineman! That counts as a skill for him, right?)
Toy Group: Hollywood (Maltese)
Hollywood looks like she thinks she’s better than everyone else, and she’s right. Toy dogs are bred for human companionship and laps of luxury. The WKC Maltese breed description says they have been popular pets among royalty for centuries, due to their “elegance and beauty.” Hollywood, star that she is, bested several other toy beauts, including Porsche, the first Russian toy dog to make it to the semifinals.
Herding Group: River (German shepherd)
German shepherds are favorites in the herding group, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are they extremely smart and enthusiastic, they can be trained for work in law enforcement and the military. And yet, the WKC points out they are also family friendly, and make great service dogs. A German shepherd named Rumor won the WKC’s Best in Show in 2017. Can River vie for a repeat?
Wednesday night will determine the finalists from the terrier, hunting and working groups. But only one of the final seven can be the top dog!