Here's How Top Dog Malachy Won 'Best in Show'

malachy best in show westminster 2012Lissenup all you Boos, Mookies, Sams, and Onions out there -- I'm going to talk with you, human to dog. DO YOU. HAVE. WHAT IT TAKES. TO BE. BEST! IN! SHOW!  

2,000 dogs. 185 breeds. What does it take to win at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?

We tried to interview the winner of this year's competition, Pekingese puffball Malachy, but he was unavailable for comment. Something about chasing squirrels. But here's what we learned about why Malachy won the top prize.


First, all the doggies are judged against the "breed standard" -- in other words, is Malachy ALL that a Pekingese can be? Does he express total Pekingese-ness? Does he exude complete Pekingesosity? I think you know where I'm going with this idea. Each dog is judged based on how well they measure up to the ideal of its breed.

Here's how the Pekingese Club of America describes the ideal Pekingese face:

The topskull is massive, broad, and flat and, when combined with the wide set eyes, cheekbones, and broad lower jaw, forms the correctly shaped face. When viewed from the front, the skull is wider than deep, which contributes to the desired rectangular, envelope-shaped appearance of the head. In profile, the face is flat. When viewed from the side, the chin, nose leather, and brow all lie in one plane, which slants very slightly backward from chin to forehead.

And that's just the face. There's more, much more. He must also have a stroll that's "unhurried, dignified, free, and strong, with a slight roll over the shoulders" and a temperament of "regal dignity." Wow, it sounds like they're talking about me! But this is not about me. This is about careful breeding, lots of training, luck, and having a really good hair day.

So after the "Best in Breed" competition, the winners compete in the "Group" competition -- in Malachy's case, the Toy group. This isn't breed vs. breed. This is about how well each dog expresses their respective breed. And then the next level is Best in Show.

Okay, so are you with me here? It's not that they're saying Pekingese dogs are better than Dalmatians. They're saying Malachy is a better Pekingese than Ruffian is a good Dalmatian. Although Ruffian is still a really, really good Dalmatian. Good Ruffian! Gooood boy!

Westminster judge Cindy Vogel reportedly said of Malachy, "Super dog, and he had a stupendous night. There's a lot of dog in a small package."

Of course, achieving Best in Show is going to cost you. You'll have to enter in hundreds of other competitions before you make it to Westminster -- and in the meantime, you'll rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel expenses, handler fees, grooming, competition fees, and promotion. So in addition to excellent breeding and rigorous training, it also takes a lot of moolah to win!

What do you think of Malachy the Pekingese?


Image via wsjdigitalnetwork/YouTube

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