The Cost of Being Westminster Kennel Club’s Best in Show


To culminate its annual dog show, the Westminster Kennel Club is gearing up for its big finale on Tuesday night – the Best in Show competition. Although many spectators at the show have already picked who they believe is the top dog, the winner of the ultimate dog show trophy will be chosen at 11:00 p.m. Tuesday, concluding a long journey of myriad costs and owner’s time.

One of the dogs considered to be in the running to place in the top five of the competition, Beckett, caught up on some much-needed sleep on Tuesday. The brown and white dog was saving his energy for the many rounds of competition still to occur. Owner Jim Andras of Houston told the New York Daily News that Beckett has beaten out over 38,000 competitors during his career, adding that the family is “proud of him.”

Another possibility to make Best in Show has presidential blood in his veins – President Obama’s dog, Sunny, is a cousin of Portuguese water dog Matisse. Matisse has bested over 148,000 dogs during his show career. One of his owners, Milan Lint, says that the pooch “loves being out there.” Lint would not go so far as to predict the ultimate win at Westminster on Tuesday night, but admitted that “we are hoping he does.”

Three-year-old Skye terrier Charlie is also predicted to be in the top five of the Westminster Kennel Club’s annual Best in Show competition. Charlie has outscored over 40,000 dogs and has already taken home approximately 50 Best in Show awards. His owner, Jean Zaphiris, says that the terrier is “a great showman” who “likes a good time.”

While many owners love their dogs, it takes a whole lot more than love to get to the level of being considered a Best in Show contender at Westminster. CNN Money reports that getting a canine ready for shows can cost between $50,000 and $100,000 annually. The first big expenditure is the cost of the dog itself and just any dog will not do. It is important to keep in mind that show dogs must start with the appropriate “look” for their breed, a personality suitable for showing and the right family lineage. A dog which meets all of these criteria will cost at least $5,000 – at the minimum.

A top dog needs to practice, practice, practice in order to be ready to show with the big dogs at Westminster. Dog shows have entry fees, which are typically between $25 and $35 each show. The average amount of dog shows per month which will truly help prepare the dog for showing is somewhere between 10 to 15, which can equal more than $5000 annually.

Also essential is a professional who knows how to present the dog during competition in the best way possible in order to please the judges. The handling fee varies based on how many wins a dog chalks up during a show. Each win means another round of competition, which means another handling fee. For the big, important shows, a top handler (who charges top dollar) will need to be hired. Handling fees start at about $24,000 per year.

Of great importance is advertising the dog, especially in magazines which are read by dog show judges. Ads placed to showcase a dog will cost approximately $12,000 per year.

Depending upon the breed of the dog, some may require specialized grooming in order to best present the pooch to the judges, which adds a cost of $50 each week. Expect to write a check for $2,600 every year to keep Fido fluffy.

The last major expense shouldered by show dog owners is the cost of traveling from show to show. There are costs incurred by the owner for hotels and travel as well as for the dog and the dog’s handler. A good estimate of annual expenditures on travel is at least $12,000.

Other costs will likely rear their ugly heads as well. Unfortunately, winning the Westminster Kennel Club award for Best in Show does not come with a monetary prize, but the pride of owning the dog judged best all around by an esteemed organization like Westminster has a worth all its own. The dog deemed to be the best will have beaten out 2,710 other dogs to take the honor. The monetary gains come later, through endorsement deals and breeding fees, which makes the Best in Show award such an important win for show dog owners.

By Jennifer Pfalz

New York Daily News
Erie TV News
Westminster Kennel Club

Article Image by audrey_sel – Flickr License
Featured Image by audrey_sel Cropped for Size – Flickr License

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