NEW YORK — Siba the standard poodle was named Best in Show at the 144th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, putting the standard poodle into elite company as one of only four breeds with five or more wins in the annual competition.
Siba is the 12th dog from the non-sporting group to win Best in Show and the first since 2018, when Flynn the Bichon Frise took home the honor. Non-sporting dogs have the fourth-most wins of any group, trailing the terrier, sporting and working groups.
This is fifth win overall for the standard poodle and the first since 1991. The Standard breed also won in 1935, 1958 and 1973.
“She’s just a great dog,” said Siba’s co-owner, Connie S. Unger. “She loves the showing, she’s in her element when she’s being shown. She’s really an all-around great dog.”
Bourbon the Whippet was the runner-up.
Non-sporting dogs represent one of seven groups in competition, along with the hound, toy, herding, sporting, working and terrier groups. The remaining finalists were Bourbon (hound), Bono the Havanese (toy), Conrad the Shetland Sheepdog (herding), Daniel the Golden Retriever (sporting), Wilma the Boxer (working) and Vinny the Wire Fox Terrier (terrier).
“Overwhelming. Thrilling. There are so many words,” said Chrystal Clas, the dog’s handler. “This is the ultimate goal in our sport. So I’m just beyond pleased.”
Asked how the poodle would like to celebrate the win, Clas said the demands would be simple: Siba would like some chicken.
Despite the breed’s strong track record of success, the win can be viewed as an upset. For one, the poodle was in competition with breeds, groups and specific dogs with a longer history of success at Westminster and beyond, including Bono, pegged by Dog News Magazine as the top-ranked dog in competition.
Bono was the runner-up a year ago, losing to King the Wire Fox Terrier, and finished second to Thor the Bulldog at the National Dog Show over Thanksgiving. A furry, long-haired 3-year-old named after the U2 frontman, Bono was the favorite after coming out of the toy group to once again reach the Best in Show stage of competition.
Wilma the Boxer, like Bono, was a repeat Best in Show finalist. There was Bourbon, the second-ranked dog at Westminster and winner of several Best in Show events in the weeks leading into competition.
There was the overwhelming crowd favorite in Daniel, who represented a breed enormously popular with the everyday dog owner — the Golden Retriever is America’s third-most popular breed, according to the American Kennel Club — and, as a breed that has never won at Westminster, was this year’s Cinderella.
And Siba was also competing against history, and specifically against a terrier group that has been the dominant force in Westminster history. Beginning with Warren Remedy, who won the first competition in 1907 and remains the only three-time champion, dogs from the group have accounted for 47 wins, with 15 coming from the Wire Fox Terrier breed alone.
But the success of the terrier group turned off last year’s crowd at Madison Square Garden, which shrugged its shoulders — along with the scattered boo — after King was named Best in Show.
“There’s a lot of hours involved, and a lot of passion and heart goes into it,” Clas said. “You have to love doing it. And the dogs really love doing it. They love that bond they have, that one-on-one time they get.”