As I prepare for my February trip to New York for the 136th Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) show, I am reminded just what a wonderful on line site the WKC maintains. If you haven’t spent some time meandering through their pages, you are missing one of the great pleasures of the dog world.
This year the club has added a gallery of most of the past Best In Show winners. As I browsed through this collection of the wonderful dogs of the past, I was struck by the evolution in the grooming of the various breeds. Compare the 1956 BIS winner, the Toy Poodle, CH Wilber White Swan, handled by the unrivaled Ann Rogers Clark, with the 2007 Toy Group Winner, CH Smash Jp Win A Victory. This is one example of a trend in grooming I can endorse. The current fashion compliments the Poodle’s structure and frames the face beautifully.
While Poodles have removed coat over the years, other breeds have added coat. Contrast the 1936 BIS winner, the Sealyham Terrier, CH St Margaret Mignificent of Claredale, with the 2008 Terrier Group winner, CH Efbe’s Hidalgo At Goodspice. In addition to the generous skirts, long accepted in Sealyhams and Scotties, there are the extravagant face furnishings. While I admit to being a diehard fan of Charmin, the modern day Sealyham, I much prefer the 1936 style of grooming.
While Sealyhams have added generous amounts of coats, another Terrier has my vote as the most changed grooming from yesteryear. The West Highland White Terrier has in recent years radically changed in appearance. 1962’s BIS winner, CH Elfinbrook Simon, shared more of the modern Cairn Terrier’s style than the modern Westies. Just witness the luxurious head furnishings of CH Arbroath’s Rise’N Shine, the 2009 Best Of Breed.
My nominee for most evolved breed is the Cocker Spaniel. 2011’s Sporting Group winner, the Black Cocker Spaniel, GCH CH Casablanca’s Thrilling Seduction, seems far removed from the 1954 BIS winner, CH Carmor’s Rise and Shine, both in head, structure, and grooming. One thing is sure, now matter how you dress our modern day show dogs, each of the dogs mentioned above was/is a superb specimen of his/her breed. And that’s today’s Back Story.
(Photo of CH Arbroath’s Rise’N Shine is by Carol Beuchat. All other photos courtesy of Westminster Kennel Club)