History of the Showdogs of the Year Awards
Purina® Pro Plan's® Showdogs of the Year Awards, presented by Dogs in Review, has spent the past 58 years celebrating the excellence of the top Group-winning show dogs, along with their owners, handlers and breeders. In order to win an award, a dog must achieve the most Group wins during a single calendar year at American Kennel Club — sanctioned conformation shows. It takes a combined effort to win a Showdogs of the Year Award. First, it takes an outstanding, cooperating canine and second, an owner who is dedicated, understanding and generous. Third, there is the handler — an expert, energetic, caring professional and, fourth, all the eager assistants who work behind the scenes. Last, there is the breeder who must care and execute an exceptional breeding program from generation to generation.
Purina® Pro Plan's® Showdogs of the Year Awards, presented by Dogs in Review, are held in the highest esteem by the dog fancy and represent the best of the dogs that have shown consistency in winning, show after show. Many have come back to win several years in a row, demonstrating a standard of excellence not seen very often in the world of conformation.
A Showdogs of the Year Award is most coveted by owners, handlers and breeders. While the awards criteria for the top dog has changed over the years, the intent behind them has not; that is, to recognize the dedication that has made this event possible.
In 1946 the First Ken-L Ration Annual Bench Show was created. The Quaker Oats Company, makers of Ken-L Ration Professional Biskit at that time, created the Showdogs of the Year Awards in 1954 and always held it in New York City.
When Ken-L Biskit was discontinued, Heinz Specialty Pet Products continued the sponsorship of these important awards in 1995. In 2000, Nature’s Recipe Pet Foods hosted the Showdogs of the Year Awards and moved to the Southgate Towers & Hotel to be closer to Madison Square Garden where the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is held. Since 2006, the Awards have been hosted by Dogs in Review and presented by Purina Pro Plan. The Awards are always held on the Saturday night before the opening of the Westminster dog show, usually the second Saturday in February.
Winners in 1954 were divided into four divisions: Eastern, Midwest, Southern and Pacific. In 1958 a new division was added, Owner/Handler. The divisions remained the same until 1966. In 1967 the divisions were changed to reflect the new American Kennel Club Group divisions: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting, dropping the Owner/Handler division. In 1979 the Obedience Trial Champion Award was created for the dog with the most Obedience Trial Champion points in sanctioned American Kennel Club shows.
In 1983 another Group division was added, the Herding Group, as per the new Group divisions issued by the American Kennel Club. In 1986, the Hall of Fame Award was introduced to honor an individual or individuals who have made a significant contribution to improving the quality of the show dog sport. This esteemed award is presented in recognition of lifetime achievements by dedicated show dog enthusiasts.
The breeder awards were begun in 1997 to acknowledge the importance of these dedicated people who bring champions to the winner’s ring consistently by creating strong, healthy breed lines. Today, at the Purina® Pro Plan's® Showdogs of the Year Awards, presented by Dogs in Review, honors are given to the owners, handlers and breeders of the winners in the seven AKC Groups, owner/handler and breeder of the Obedience Trial Champion, and an honoree is named for the Hall of Fame.
The history of the winners reads as a "Who’s Who” in showdogs over the decades. The Awards are the most prestigious and coveted awards for owners, handlers and breeders. Below you’ll find lists of our best efforts to capture the top dogs, their owners and handlers of the past 58 years, and hopefully it will evoke fond memories for those of you who closely follow this great sport.
1954-1961 The Hotel Astor
1970-1981 The Waldorf Astoria
1982 The Grand Hyatt, NY
(cancelled due to snow storm)
1983-1992 The Grand Hyatt, NY
1993 The Manhattan Center
1994-99 The Grand Hyatt, NY
2000-2001 The Southgate Hotel
2002-2012 The Grand Hyatt, NY
1959 - Ilka Chase
1960 - Basil Rathbone
1961 - Johnny Carson
1963 - Hermine Gingold
1964- Celeste Holm
1968 - Vincent Price
1973 - Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
1974 - Patrice Munsel
1975 - Joan Fontaine
1976 - Hermine Gingold
1977 - Orson Bean
1978 - George Plimpton
1979 - Virginia Graham
1980 - Roger Caras
1981 - Margaret O'Brien
1982 - Richard Thomas
(snowed in, Chicago)
1983 - Richard Thomas
1984 - Tom T. Hall
1986 - Gary Collins and Maryanne Mobley
1987 - Charles Osgood
1988 - Dan Rather
1993- Fiona Hutchinson
1989- George Plimpton
1990 - Matt Bahr
1991 - Rocky Bleier
1992 - Jim Tunney
1994 - Bill Trainor
1995 - Bill Trainor
1996 - Bill Trainor
1997 - Mark Threfall, Tribute to William Trainor
1998 - Jack Scalia and JoAnne Worley
1999 - JoAnne Worley, Loretta Swit and Liz Lockman
2000 - Jeffrey Bennett, Michael Retzlaff & Peter Bowen
2001 - Darlene Arden
2002 - Darlene Arden and Peter Green
2003 - Michael Cannalizo and Peter Green
2004 - Richard Beauchamp and Edward Biven
2005 - Richard Beauchamp, Patricia Craige Trotter
2006 - Dr. Carmen Battaglia, Patricia Craige Trotter
2007 - Richard Beauchamp, Florence Males
2008 - Karen LeFrak, Wayne Ferguson
2009 - Richard Beauchamp, Karen LeFrak
2010 - Michael Faulkner, Wayne Ferguson
2011 - Kimberly Meredith Cavanna, Dr. Richard Meen
2012 - Michael Faulkner, Dr. John Reeve-Newson
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