Every year, the Westminster Kennel Club, often recognized as the world’s greatest dog show, selects a canine that meets their criteria in manner, agility, performance, and appearance.

In February 2018, Flynn, a Bichon Frise, was named America’s Best in Show. At Madison Square Garden, where the ceremony took place, Judge Betty-Anne Stenmark honored the Bichon Frise with the top prize. Beating other best in breed winners like Ty the giant schnauzer, Bean the Sussex spaniel, Biggie the pug, Slick the border collie, Lucy the borzoi, and Winston the Norfolk terrier, the announcement came as a surprise to many.

The top dog, Flynn, has attended over 42 Westminster dogs shows and, at 6-years-old, is expected to retire. The only other Bichon Frise to win the title was back in 2001.

The Westminster Dog Show Ceremony

Although several dog financiers were betting on the Bichon Frise, most people in the stands were cheering for other dogs. Two years ago, Ty the giant schnauzer won first place and in 2017 he won the title of runner-up. But Ty didn’t go home empty-pawed this time. Often endearing to fans, the pup jumped up and put his front paws on Katie Bernardin, his handler, after he won the working group award earlier in the evening.

Other crowd favorites included the popular pub, Biggie, and Bean who stood up on his hind legs and begged the judges for a special treat.

After being named top dog, Flynn will follow-up the evening with a victory lap. The day after, he will be a guest on many morning talk shows, enjoy a steak lunch at Sardi’s, a visit to the Empire State Building, and a walk-on part in Broadway’s hit show “Kinky Boots”.

While the other winning Westminster canines don’t receive cash prizes, they are given shiny bowls, lucrative breeding fees, and memories that often stay in the hearts and memories of dog show fans for years.

At the 142nd Westminster competition, the event itself welcomed 2,882 entries with over 202 breeds and varieties. While many dogs like Spicy Nacho garnered admiration and laughs, many judges did not like the look of the mini bull terrier.

Perhaps, it was not only Flynn’s adorable nature but also his social skills that charmed the judges. As Stenmark made reviewed the final seven dogs, Flynn offered his paw, similar to a handshake gesture to her. The judge mentioned that his happy nature and continuously wagging tail endeared the fluffy pup to her.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show predates the invention of the automobile, the lightbulb, and the zipper. The first ceremony, held on May 8, 1877, only included gun dogs who were presented by their hunting owners at the Westminster Hotel. Various prizes were awarded in the past, including a pearl-handled pistol.

After the initial dog show, the Westminster Kennel Club was formed and they became the first club to join the American Kennel Club (AKC), established in 1884. As the show’s popularity rose, the number of attendees was capped at 2,800 and moved to Madison Square Garden for the event.

At the Eddie Croman Foundation, we love all pups the same, but the Westminster dog show is a great way to view the expertise that goes into grooming, training, and caring for these wonderful dogs of all varieties. We can’t wait to see all the adorable and familiar faces at next year’s show!