Vintage photos of the Westminster Dog Show

Bettmann/Getty ImagesNina Mia Vi had to be put inside a plastic case to shield her from the drafts inside Madison Square Garden.

Every February since 1907, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show judges have compared thousands of canines to pick the one that is truly Best in Show.

In honour of this year’s competition, which will be held in New York City on February 10 and 11, we’ve unearthed vintage photos from the show’s history.

Keep scrolling to learn more about the competition, and see how much it has – or hasn’t – changed since its inception.


The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has been happening annually since 1877. Among its fans was children’s author Nan Hayden Agle.

Bettmann/Getty ImagesNan Hayden Agle is pictured with ‘Drink-Moor Moonshine,’ who was declared the best English bulldog at the 59th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1935.

She’s pictured with Drink-Moor Moonshine, declared the Best English bulldog in 1935.


Here’s Jimmy Walker, the former mayor of New York City, and his wife at the 1936 show.

APJimmy Walker and his wife at Madison Square Garden, New York, on February 10, 1936.

A year later, this miniature Doberman pinscher faced off against four great Danes.

Underwood Archives/Getty ImagesA miniature pinscher does its best to look brave in front of four great Danes at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in 1937.

Also in 1937, these three English bulldogs looked a bit perplexed.

Underwood Archives/Getty ImagesThree English bulldogs view the passersby at the 61st annual show in 1937.

In 1941, there was no shortage of Dalmatians ready to compete.

Hansel Mieth/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesA woman holding the leashes of Dalmatian dogs during the show in February 1941.

This is Warbride of Mazelaine, who was declared the Best of Breed for boxers in 1945.

Tom Fitzsimmons/APIn a surprise win, Warbride of Mazelaine took Best of Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in 1945.

Sailors’ outfits might not be in style anymore, but cute bulldogs will always be popular.

Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty ImagesAt the 1945 Westminster Dog Show, a little boy in a sailor’s outfit cuddles a bulldog.

But the overall Best in Show winner in 1945 was none other than this Scottish terrier, Shieling’s Signature.

William C. Shrout/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesA close-up of the award-winning Scottish terrier standing beside his trophy at the Westminster Dog Show on February 1, 1945.

You can see all the winners throughout the years here.


In 1952, artist Smith Gordon offered to create portraits of the beloved pups.

Ernst Haas/Getty ImagesSmith Gordon attends to her makeup while waiting for customers at the Westminster Dog Show in 1952.

Part of the competition used to include herding sheep.

Ernst Haas/Getty ImagesTwo sheepdogs and their shepherd try to keep a group of sheep inside a small chalked square at Westminster Dog Show in 1952.

There are still other shows, like agility and obedience, that are part of the larger competition.


Various pet food companies have sponsored the show over the years. Today, it’s sponsored by Purina.

Ernst Haas/Getty ImagesPosters for Red Heart dog and cat food at Westminster Dog Show held in Madison Square Garden in 1952.

The 1952 show showed some love to Red Heart, which also put a lot of money into advertising on baseball cards.


Spectators that year were are also treated to snacks.

Ernst Haas/Getty ImagesVisitors to the Westminster Dog Show take a bite to eat beside a comic cardboard cut-out of a dog.

Preparing a pup for a dog show doesn’t differ much from what it takes to get a human ready: This dog had to get his nails clipped.

Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesA man prepares a dog for the Westminster Dog Show in 1954.

In 1955, Kippax Fearnot was crowned Best in Show, making him the second-ever bulldog to take it home.

Bettmann/Getty ImagesChampion Kippax Fearnot poses with handler Harry Sangster at the 79th annual show on February 15, 1955.

This Chihuahua, Nina Mia Vi, was so small that he was placed in a plastic case to shelter him from the drafts inside Madison Square Garden.

Bettmann/Getty ImagesNina Mia Vi, a blue blood Chihuahua, listens to the comforting words of owner Ella Abrams while awaiting the competition on February 13, 1956.

Nina weighed just over 2 pounds.


Something that’s timeless, though, is how much we love to snuggle and celebrate our furry friends.

Susan Wood/Getty ImagesA man poses with a dog at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in Madison Square Garden in February 1956.

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