6 things to know about The National Dog Show

PHILADELPHIA — The National Dog Show, the most widely viewed dog show in the nation, will be held Nov. 19 and 20 in Philadelphia. A telecast will be aired nationwide on Thanksgiving day. Hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, the show features American Kennel Club-sanctioned breeds and varieties competing for Best of Breed, First in Group and the top-dog spot: Best in Show. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s National Dog Show.

>> PHOTOS: National Dog Show 2021

1. What to expect each day: The National Dog Show takes place on Nov. 19, with additional competitions, athletic dog exhibitions and family-friendly activities being held on Nov. 20. For those arriving early, two unbenched shows are scheduled for Nov. 17 (Penn Treaty Kennel Club) and Nov. 18 (Greater Philadelphia Dog Fanciers’ Association.)

2. What’s at stake: In addition to the prestigious title of Best in Show, $20,000 is awarded in prize money at The National Dog Show, according to The Kennel Club of Philadelphia.

3. The 7 groups: Dogs participating in The National Dog Show are placed in one of seven groups based upon their breed’s characteristics and functions: terrier, toy, working, sporting, hound, non-sporting and and herding. You can find a further breakdown of how the 212 breeds are organized by viewing the show’s breed list. The dog that places first in each of these seven groups then goes on to compete for the show’s top title, Best in Show.

4. The show has been airing since 2002, but it’s been around for much longer than that. The Kennel Club of Philadelphia Dog Show has been in existence since 1879 with minimal interruptions. When NBC Sports began airing the show in 2002, it was rebranded as The National Dog Show. The show is one of only three major dog shows in the nation, ranked along with the AKC National Championship and the Westminster Dog Show. The National Dog Show airs at noon immediately following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

5. The judges are picky, and rightly so. Over the course of the show, judges will have seen hundreds of dogs. But what exactly are these discerning individuals looking to find? The questions are tough: Is the dog able to perform the job the breed was originally bred to do? Does the dog have all of the physical characteristics typical of their breed? How fit is the dog? Does the dog have the correct gait? But wait, there’s more: Judges are also looking for happy dogs that enjoy the competition so each dog’s expression and general demeanor receives extra scrutiny.

6. Those long names may sound excessive, but there’s a good reason for them. Gia, a greyhound, was 2016′s Best in Show, but her proper name is GCHS CH Grandcru Giaconda CGC. While it may seem a little crazy, there’s a method to the madness of the competitor naming.

That long and hard-to-read name reads like a history lesson on the dog’s life. Components of the dog’s name can be pulled from many different places: the name of the kennel where the dog was born, notations about the dog’s qualifications or prizes and a part of the name that’s specific to the dog.