Move over, Mickey: The last week of the year belonged to Pluto in Orlando, Florida. And Goofy, too. And more than 4,000 other dogs who were there for the American Kennel Club/Eukanuba National Championship, with dogs from 177 breeds competing in conformation, agility, and obedience; there were also competitions for juniors, owner-handled dogs, and for breeders. All were vying for more than $225,000 in prize money.
It wasn’t all competitions, though. There were information booths for every breed. Dock diving. Flyball demos. Seminars. Award ceremonies. Vendors. All under one roof in a one-million-square-foot space. It’s the largest dog event in North America, and second in prestige only to the Westminster Kennel Club.
The World Challenge
Dogs came from around the globe for this special competition. All in all, 43 top dogs received all-expenses-paid trips to compete for the title (and $10,000!).
After preliminary judging, the finalists were the Dachshund from Russia, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen from the Netherlands, the Doberman Pinscher from the USA, the Maltese from Taiwan, the Standard Poodle from the UK, the Phalene Papillon from Latvia, the Doberman from Malaysia, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi (from the USA, but she earned her place by winning the North American Breeder Stakes), the Yorkshire Terrier (FCI Asia winner), the Scottish Terrier (FCI Europe winner), the Dogo Argentino (FCI Americas winner), and the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen (Crufts Best in Show winner).
The finalists paraded under the spotlight, escorted by an official from their country carrying the country’s flag, and then the judge got to work. The Standard Poodle, Ricky, from the UK, emerged the victor, with the Dogo Argentino Runner-Up ($3,000 prize) and Fifi the Doberman from the USA the first Runner-Up ($2,000 prize).
Fifi is probably America’s most popular show dog on Facebook, so she had tons of folks on social media rooting for her!
The Owner-Handled National Series Finals
This was another popular event. Show dogs at the top level of competition are more often than not piloted by professional handlers, who show dogs full time. Like professional jockeys, they’re more talented than most amateur owners, more well-known, and can spend every weekend traveling to shows. So the AKC devised a competition just for owner-handled dogs, and the top ranked ones in each breed were invited to compete in the finals.
This year the Best in Show award went to an owner handler who has proved you can rise to the top against the professionals: Armando Angelbello and Classie, the Miniature Pinscher. This team has competed against the pros to become the No. 3 ranked dog of all breeds for 2013, breaking the record for Best in Show wins for her breed with 115 Best in Show awards!
Another special competition is for owner-handlers who also bred the dog they’re showing. Best Bred-by-Exhibitor in Show as won by the Old English Sheepdog, GCh Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect. You may remember him as the dog that won Reserve Best in Show at Westminster last year.
The Eukanuba Breeders Stakes is one of the most exciting competitions, allowing spectators to see a sampling of dogs from the same breeder. It’s one thing to produce one big winner; quite another to produce three exemplary individuals. This year the competition was won by the Coventry Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
In Junior Showmanship, the competitors (who must be under 18) are judged on their ability to present their dog. The 148 Junior Showmanship qualifiers once again showed their dogs to perfection. They competed in two preliminary rounds, with finalists competing in the main arena for best Junior, which was won by Katelynn Edgecombe and her Pug.
With more than 100 entries, Best in Miscellaneous Classes was a big event, with the honor going to a Miniature American Shepherd.
Of course, the main event is still the AKC National Championship, and the seven group winners were a who’s who among the nations’ dogs. The group winners and placers were as follows:
The Sporting Group
- First Place: Irish Water Spaniel GCH CH Whistlestop’s Riley On Fire
- Second place: Chesapeake Bay Retriever GCH CH Albridens The Show Must Go On
- Third place: Cocker Spaniel Black GCH CH Casablanca’s Thrilling Seduction
- Fourth place: English Cocker Spaniel GCH CH Fieldstone Carousel Hell’s Kitchen
The Hound Group
- First place: American Foxhound GCH CH Kiarry’s Pandora’s Box
- Second place: Afghan Hound GCH CH Thaon’s Wallstreet
- Third place: Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Soletrader Peek A Boo
- Fourth place: Whippet GCH CH Sporting Fields Shameless
The Working Group
- First place: Portuguese Water Dog GCH CH Claircreek Impression De Matisse
- Second place: Giant Schnauzer GCH CH Kenro’s Witching Hour
- Third place: Akita GCH CH Cr Wicca’s Trade Secret
- Fourth place: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog GCH CH Derby’s Toast With Gusto
The Terrier Group
- First place: Wire Fox Terrier GCH CH Afterall Painting The Sky
- Second place: Russell Terrier GCH CH Goldsand’s Columbus
- Third place: Scottish Terrier GCH CH Mcvan’s To Russia With Love
- Fourth place: Norfolk Terrier GCH CH Yarrow Venerie Ticket To Ride
The Toy Group
- First place: Pekingese GCH CH Yakee Easily Persuaded
- Second place: Toy Poodle CH Smash Jp Beauty & Beat
- Third place: Miniature Pinscher GCH CH Marlex Classic Red Glare
- Fourth place: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel GCH CH Miletree Northern Star
The Non-Sporting Group
- First place: Standard Poodle GCH CH Dawin Hearts On Fire
- Second place: Tibetan Spaniel GCH CH Kan Sing’s Tenzin
- Third place: Chinese Shar-Pei Jade East Mission Into Space
- Fourth place: Bulldog GCH CH Itsa Brix
The Herding Group
- First place: German Shepherd Dog GCH CH Wolf Creek Galaxy Of Merivern
- Second place: Old English Sheepdog GCH CH Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect
- Third place: Bouvier des Flandres GCH CH Stonepillar’s Steel Blu
- Fourth place: Pembroke Welsh Corgi GCH CH Coventry Allure At Wyndstar
So who would be Best in Show (and take home $50,000)? Sky, the Wire Fox Terrier, No. 1 dog of all breeds for 2013? Matisse, the Portuguese Water Dog, No. 2 of all breeds? Jewel, the Foxhound, winner of Best in Show at the National Dog Show, and the nation’s No. 1 hound? Roger, the Peke, piloted by the same handler who had won a Westminster Best in Show with a Peke a few years ago? The record breaking Irish Water Spaniel, Riley? The ground-covering German Shepherd? The dogs were gaited one last time. The crowd grew quiet as the judge walked to the center of the ring …
“Reserve Best in Show … is the Wire Fox Terrier!”
“Best in Show is … the Portuguese Water Dog!”
You can watch videos of every group, and every breed, being judged here.
Planning an Orlando vacation? Why not visit in December and go to the dogs at next year’s AKC/Eukanuba National Championship show? And in the meantime, follow the American Kennel Club on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
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