Why the Vast Majority of Westminster Dog Show Winners Are Male

Every year, bitches gather together to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. But more often than not, those bitches don’t win. When it comes to dog competitions, success skews male. Whether or not 2019’s competition, which began Monday, will continue its preference for good boys remains to be seen until Tuesday evening, when the new Best in Show winner is announced.

This is the 143rd year that 3,000 purebred dogs are wiggling, licking, and scooting their way into Madison Square Garden in New York City. Dogs first compete in breed rounds where they’re judged against members of their own kind. The top dogs from these rounds go on to compete against other top breeds in “breed group” competition — the hounds, toys, non-sporting, herding, sporting, working and terrier — and then the top dogs from those groups face-off in the crowning event, Best in Show.

Since 1907, female dogs — “bitches,” as they’re called at the show — have won Best in Show 39 times. Male dogs, meanwhile, have won twice as often — 71 times.

Bulldogs compete in their breed round on Monday.

This contrast is “no coincidence,” Reuters reports that. The main reason for the divide is that a dog’s peak age for competition is 3 to 5 years old. This age group also happens to be the best time for bitches to breed. Accordingly, after a female dog successfully shows, she’s typically retired to become a mom. Male dogs, meanwhile, can be used as a stud and continue to compete at the same time.

Wendy Kellerman, a handler and breeder, told Reuters that when a bitch is menstruating she can be “moody” and that being in heat causes changes in hormones that make her shed her coat. Because the goal of dog shows is to pick out the best example of a dog’s breed, those changes can hurt a dog’s chances at a win. At a dog show, canines are not judged on who is cutest, but rather on their attitude, gait, and whether or not their body is the idealized version of their breed.

There she goes.

Handlers prefer to show males, The Washington Post reports, because they are fluffier, which, is a difficult thing to argue. Fluffiness is very good. Some of the fluffy dogs to watch out for this year are samoyeds, golden retrievers, and chow chows — all of which are included in this round-up of competition live streams.

Still, dreams can still come true for a bitch. In 2017, the Westminster top dog was Rumor, a female German shepherd. She was subsequently put into retirement to have puppies, and a male Bichon Frise named Flynn won in 2018. It’s too soon to say what dog will win in 2019, but if you talked to a Westminster bookie, they’d probably say a boy.