PHOTOS: Dogs descend on the tennis courts at this year's Westminster Dog Show

It’s the 147th year of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and a shiba inu still won’t win. Neither will the Pembroke Welsh corgi, nor the longer-tailed Cardigan Welsh corgi. All three dachshund varieties (smooth, wire-haired, and long-haired) will still have to wait their turn, as will Chihuahuas and other breeds that have yet to claim the Best in Show title.

However, the French bulldog still has a chance.

On Monday night, Winston the Frenchie triumphed over the other contenders in the non-sports group, including the shiba inu. If his name sounds familiar, it could be from the time he was named “best reserve in show,” or runner-up, during last year’s Westminster Dog Show. Or it could be from last Thanksgiving, when Winston made history as the first French bulldog to win Best in Show at the National Dog Show. (It is also owned, in part, by Morgan Fox, a defensive end for the Los Angeles Chargers.)

Apparently, 2022 was the year of the Frenchies. The compactly built dog with stocky, muscular legs and an affectionate disposition was ranked No. 1 on the American Kennel Club’s annual list of Most Popular Dog Breeds. Popularity, however, does not influence the decisions of the Westminster judges. It wasn’t the eruption of cheers from the crowd that gave Winston the upper hand, but his compliance with a written breed standard.

Buddy Holly, another representative of a breed that has yet to win Westminster: the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, knocked out the dachshunds in the hound group this year. In the herding group, the corgis bestowed Ribbon, an Australian Shepherd. Ribbon, too, could become the first of her breed to win Best in Show, an honor that comes without a cash prize but fittingly includes a ribbon.

So far, only the winner of the toy group could earn another Best in Show title for a breed that already has five. The Chihuahuas did their best, but Rummie the Pekingese prevailed. Rummie owner David Fitzpatrick is no stranger to winning, recently landing the 2021 Westminster jackpot with another Pekingese named Wasabi.

No matter which dog is crowned Best in Show, it’s already a year of firsts at Westminster. After a long history at Madison Square Garden and a brief pandemic-induced move to the Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, New York, this marks the first time the show has performed at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens. . And the Bracco Italiano, an ancient breed recently recognized by the AKC, will make its sporting group debut Tuesday night.

Terriers and working groups also compete on Tuesday. Then, the seven group winners will face each other for Best in Show.

There’s no need to feel bad for those who didn’t advance to Tuesday night’s grand finale. Every dog ​​that competes at Westminster is a champion, literally. To get to what is often referred to as the “Super Bowl of dog shows,” the contestants have already bested the competition time and time again.

And besides, these contestants often don’t understand the distinction between winning and losing. On Monday, the applause that accompanied the judges’ decisions created a flurry of emotion not only for the leader but for everyone who strutted around the ring. It’s fun to see the change in behavior after the call is made; now, perfectly balanced candidates can just be dogs, jumping, rolling, and frolicking like anyone else.