11 of America’s Favorite Dog Breeds Have Never Won “Best in Show” at Westminster

Surprise! A shocking 11 out of 20 of America’s favorite dog breeds have not won the top prize.

Dog Breeds That Have Never Won "Best in Show" at Westminster
Golden Retrievers are among the dog breeds that have never won Best in Show at Westminster. Photo: angela n.

Every year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) ranks the most popular dog breeds in America, and every year, representatives of those breeds compete along with many others for “Best in Show” — the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. (The winner of Best in Show in 2020 was the Standard Poodle.)

But did you know that a surprising 11 out of America’s 20 favorite dog breeds have never won Best in Show?

Best in Show isn’t the only title up for grabs at Westminster, though. Most of the dog breeds listed below — all ranked among the top 20 most popular dog breeds in America — have earned quite a few Best of Group awards and consistently placed in the top 4 of their groups.

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We spent hours — actually, several days — digging through news archives and kennel club records to bring you the following list, which we update every year…

The Most Popular Dog Breeds That Have Never Won “Best in Show” at Westminster

dog breeds that have never won best in show
Photo: Kevin Rodriguez Ortiz

1. Labrador Retriever

America’s favorite dog for many years now, Labrador Retrievers have done abysmally at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, placing only 11 times but never 1st in their group. A Sporting Group breed, Labs were recognized by the AKC in 1917. That’s 100-plus years in which to accomplish something, Labbies. Perhaps they should spend more time on conformation and less time perfecting their sad Lab faces!

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group: none
  • 2nd Place (4 times): 1933, 1934, 1939, 1978
  • 3rd Place (1 time): 2016
  • 4th Place (6 times): 1964, 1974, 1986, 2003, 2009, 2010
Photo: Dirk Vorderstraße

2. Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers have done even worse, placing in their group only 6 times since Westminster began. But at least they snagged a pair of Best of Groups in the past few years. Goldens — who, like Labs, are in the Sporting Group — were officially recognized in 1925, giving them plenty of time. But maybe they were all too busy fetching tennis balls?

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group (2 times): 2006, 2020
  • 2nd Place (1 time): 2009
  • 3rd Place (2 times): 2014, 2017
  • 4th Place (1 time): 2005
Photo: Alexey Kuznetsov

3. French Bulldog

A little dog with batlike ears and a distinct underbite, the French Bulldog has never won Best in Show at Westminster — which is pretty sad, considering these dogs have been exhibited there since 1897. The last time a French Bulldog got even close was 2010, the year this breed captured its only Non-Sporting Group win.

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group (1 time): 2010
  • 2nd Place (6 times): 1924, 1926, 1956, 1963, 2009, 2019
  • 3rd Place (2 times): 1957, 2013
  • 4th Place (14 times): 1927, 1930, 1931, 1942, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1970, 1989, 1999, 2004, 2017
Photo: Pixabay

4. Rottweiler

Rottweilers, members of the Working Group since 1931, have had no Best in Show wins at Westminster. It gets worse: Although they’ve had 1 group win, Rottweilers have placed 2nd, 3rd or 4th only 6 other times in all those years.

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group (1 time): 2006
  • 2nd Place: none
  • 3rd Place (3 times): 1984, 1987, 2016
  • 4th Place (3 times): 1989, 1996, 2013
dog breeds that have never won best in show
Photo: 50-phi

5. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgis were first recognized by the AKC in 1934, and they are a proud member of the Working Group. Over the years, these pups have picked up an outstanding 7 Best of Group ribbons and more than 2 dozen other placements. Not bad! But no Best in Show win ever.

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group (7 times): 1960, 1972, 1976, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004
  • 2nd Place (9 times): 1949, 1955, 1962, 1970, 1973, 1977, 1984, 1992, 1999
  • 3rd Place (9 times): 1936, 1961, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2017
  • 4th Place (7 times): 1939, 1956, 1957, 1963, 1971, 1990, 2011

By the way, the Pembroke’s close cousin, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, which is a member of the Herding Group, has never won Best in Show at Westminster either.

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Photo: Petful

6. Dachshund

The overwhelming winner among all the breeds listed here, Dachshunds have placed many times in the Hound Group, with 11 Best of Groups. There are 3 classes of Dachshunds who compete: Longhaired, Wirehaired and Smooth. (Miniature and Standard Dachshunds compete together in each of these 3 classes.)

The AKC recognized Dachshunds as a breed in 1885, which perhaps accounts for the enduring popularity and relatively high rankings at Westminster.

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group (11 times): Longhaired (1998, 2019); Wirehaired (1952, 1997, 2012); Smooth (1948, 1951, 1952, 1961, 1968, 1969)
  • 2nd Place (11 times): Longhaired (1957, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1975, 1989, 2008); Wirehaired (1978); Smooth (1933, 1937, 1983)
  • 3rd Place (16 times): Longhaired (1946, 1954, 1976, 1990, 1991); Wirehaired (2003); Smooth (1926, 1936, 1941, 1950, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1963, 1964, 1967)
  • 4th Place (13 times): Longhaired (1943); Wirehaired (1979, 1981, 1986, 1987, 1994, 2007, 2009); Smooth (1935, 1939, 1948, 1949, 1960)
Photo: haflinger93

7. Australian Shepherd

Look, we should cut the Australian Shepherd a little slack — this dog breed has been competing at Westminster only since 1994.

Interestingly enough, Australian Shepherds are not from Australia. They descend from working mountain dogs, who were companions to Basque shepherds from southern France and northern Spain. These smart, exuberant working dogs are members of the Herding Group.

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group (1 time): 2008
  • 2nd Place (3 times): 2005, 2006, 2016
  • 3rd Place (1 time): 2015
  • 4th Place: none
Photo: Alexas_Fotos

8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These gentle, graceful pups — members of the Toy Group — have never won Best in Show at Westminster? That’s crazy!

One possible reason: Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are relatively new to the scene, competing at Westminster only since 1997.

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group: none
  • 2nd Place (1 time): 2014
  • 3rd Place (1 time): 2003
  • 4th Place (1 time): 1997
Photo: hurtre

9. Great Dane

One of the oldest-recognized breeds, Great Danes were admitted into the Working Group in 1887. Although they’ve never won Best in Show, they’ve taken home 5 Best of Group ribbons, with a total of 21 placements.

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group (5 times): 1931, 1933, 1959, 1962, 1983
  • 2nd Place (3 times): 1932, 1943, 2000, 1943
  • 3rd Place (9 times): 1935, 1941, 1950, 1961, 1968, 1972, 1980, 2005, 2008
  • 4th Place (4 times): 1930, 1938, 1977, 1990
Photo: crimsonninjagirl

10. Miniature Schnauzer

A completely different breed from the Standard Schnauzer and the Giant Schnauzer, the Miniature Schnauzer is a member of the Terrier Group and was recognized in 1926. Since then, the breed has managed to eke out only 1 Best of Group, but it has placed 7 other times, a not altogether dismal showing.

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group (1 time): 1947
  • 2nd Place (2 times): 1948, 1960
  • 3rd Place (2 times): 1956, 1959
  • 4th Place (3 times): 1946, 1975, 2009
Photo: cheriejoyful

11. Shih Tzu

Added to the Toy Group in 1969, Shih Tzus have done remarkably well for a breed that has competed for only the past half century. The breed has garnered an admirable 5 Best of Group placements, as well as 14 other group placements.

  • Best in Show: none
  • Best of Group (5 times): 1983, 2000, 2001, 2015, 2016
  • 2nd Place (4 times): 1973, 1977, 1997, 2003
  • 3rd Place (6 times): 1972, 1974, 1979, 1985, 1999, 2010
  • 4th Place (4 times): 1971, 1975, 1988, 1991

List of the 20 Most Popular Dog Breeds

Here’s the AKC’s full list of the 20 most popular dog breeds in America*, along with each breed’s Best in Show history at Westminster:

  1. Labrador Retriever (has never won Best in Show)
  2. German Shepherd Dog (2 wins: 1987, 2017)
  3. Golden Retriever (has never won Best in Show)
  4. French Bulldog (has never won Best in Show)
  5. Bulldog (2 wins: 1913, 1955)
  6. Poodle: Standard (5 wins: 1935, 1958, 1973, 1991, 2020); Miniature (3 wins: 1943, 1959, 2002); Toy (2 wins: 1956, 1961)
  7. Beagle (2 wins for the 15-Inch Beagle: 2008, 2015)
  8. Rottweiler (has never won Best in Show)
  9. German Shorthaired Pointer (3 wins: 1974, 2005, 2016)
  10. Pembroke Welsh Corgi (has never won Best in Show)
  11. Dachshund (has never won Best in Show)
  12. Yorkshire Terrier (1 win: 1978)
  13. Australian Shepherd (has never won Best in Show)
  14. Boxer (4 wins: 1947, 1949, 1951, 1970)
  15. Siberian Husky (1 win: 1980)
  16. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (has never won Best in Show)
  17. Great Dane (has never won Best in Show)
  18. Miniature Schnauzer (has never won Best in Show)
  19. Doberman Pinscher (4 wins: 1939, 1952, 1953, 1989)
  20. Shih Tzu (has never won Best in Show)

*Based on the most recent list available, released by the AKC on May 1, 2020.

Full List: All 158 Dog Breeds That Have Never Won Best in Show at Westminster

  1. Akita
  2. Alaskan Malamute
  3. American English Coonhound
  4. American Eskimo Dog
  5. American Foxhound
  6. American Hairless Terrier
  7. American Staffordshire Terrier
  8. Anatolian Shepherd Dog
  9. Australian Cattle Dog
  10. Australian Shepherd
  11. Australian Terrier
  12. Azawakh
  13. Barbet
  14. Basenji
  15. Basset Hound
  16. Beagle, 13-Inch
  17. Bearded Collie
  18. Beauceron
  19. Belgian Malinois
  20. Belgian Sheepdog
  21. Belgian Tervuren
  22. Bergamasco Sheepdog
  23. Berger Picard
  24. Bernese Mountain Dog
  25. Black and Tan Coonhound
  26. Black Russian Terrier
  27. Bloodhound
  28. Bluetick Coonhound
  29. Boerboel
  30. Border Collie
  31. Border Terrier
  32. Borzoi
  33. Boston Terrier
  34. Bouvier des Flandres
  35. Briard
  36. Brittany
  37. Brussels Griffon
  38. Bullmastiff
  39. Cairn Terrier
  40. Canaan Dog
  41. Cane Corso
  42. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  43. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  44. Cesky Terrier
  45. Chihuahua (Smooth Coat)
  46. Chinese Crested
  47. Chinese Shar-Pei
  48. Chow Chow
  49. Cirnecho dell’Etna
  50. Collie (Rough)
  51. Collie (Smooth)
  52. Coton de Tulear
  53. Dachshund (Longhaired)
  54. Dachshund (Smooth)
  55. Dachshund (Wirehaired)
  56. Dalmatian
  57. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  58. Dogo Argentino
  59. Dogue de Bordeaux
  60. English Toy Spaniel (B & PC)
  61. English Toy Spaniel (KC & R)
  62. Entlebucher Mountain Dog
  63. Finnish Lapphund
  64. Finnish Spitz
  65. French Bulldog
  66. German Pinscher
  67. Giant Schnauzer
  68. Glen of Imaal Terrier
  69. Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen
  70. Great Dane
  71. Great Pyrenees
  72. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
  73. Greyhound
  74. Harrier
  75. Havanese
  76. Ibizan Hound
  77. Icelandic Sheepdog
  78. Irish Terrier
  79. Irish Wolfhound
  80. Italian Greyhound
  81. Japanese Chin
  82. Keeshond
  83. Komondor
  84. Kuvasz
  85. Lagotto Romagnolo
  86. Leonberger
  87. Lhasa Apso
  88. Lowchen
  89. Maltese
  90. Manchester Terrier (Standard)
  91. Manchester Terrier (Toy)
  92. Mastiff
  93. Miniature American Shepherd
  94. Miniature Bull Terrier
  95. Miniature Pinscher
  96. Miniature Schnauzer
  97. Neapolitan Mastiff
  98. Nederlandse Kooikerhondje
  99. Norfolk Terrier
  100. Norwegian Buhund
  101. Norwegian Elkhound
  102. Norwegian Lundehund
  103. Otterhound
  104. Parson Russell Terrier
  105. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  106. Petits Basset Griffon Vendeen
  107. Pharaoh Hound
  108. Plott
  109. Pointer (German Wirehaired)
  110. Polish Lowland Sheepdog
  111. Portuguese Podengo Pequeno
  112. Portuguese Water Dog
  113. Puli
  114. Pumi
  115. Pyrenean Shepherd
  116. Rat Terrier
  117. Redbone Coonhound
  118. Retriever (Chesapeake Bay)
  119. Retriever (Curly-Coated)
  120. Retriever (Flat-Coated)
  121. Retriever (Golden)
  122. Retriever (Labrador)
  123. Retriever (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling)
  124. Rhodesian Ridgeback
  125. Rottweiler
  126. Russell Terrier
  127. Saluki
  128. Samoyed
  129. Schipperke
  130. Setter (Gordon)
  131. Setter (Irish Red and White)
  132. Setter (Irish)
  133. Shetland Sheepdog
  134. Shiba Inu
  135. Shih Tzu
  136. Silky Terrier
  137. Sloughi
  138. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  139. Spaniel (American Water)
  140. Spaniel (Boykin)
  141. Spaniel (English Cocker)
  142. Spaniel (Field)
  143. Spaniel (Welsh Springer)
  144. Spanish Water Dog
  145. Spinone Italiano
  146. Saint Bernard
  147. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  148. Swedish Vallhund
  149. Tibetan Mastiff
  150. Tibetan Spaniel
  151. Tibetan Terrier
  152. Toy Fox Terrier
  153. Treeing Walker Coonhound
  154. Vizsla
  155. Weimaraner
  156. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
  157. Wirehaired Vizsla
  158. Xoloitzcuintli

So, why do you think so many popular dog breeds have never won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show? Leave your comment below!

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