The 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show had a surprise winner this year when a Pekingnese took the coveted Best in Show prize in New York.
Malachy, the four-year-old winner at this year’s Westminster show, made it to the final round at the 2011 show but ultimately lost to Hickory, the Scottish Deerhound. This year marks the first time since 1990 the breed took a victory lap at the nation’s top dog show prize.
“He doesn’t run. He has a dignified Pekingese gait,” handler David Fitzpatrick had told The Associated Press.
Reaction on the ground Tuesday night was that the Malachy has come close so many times that it was an “owed” win. Fitzpatrick, however, has had multiple winners.
This win marks the 11-pound Malachy’s 115th overall Best in Show title. On Westminster’s opening night he had been named best in the Toy group, which is considered the show’s most competitive category.
Judge Cindy Vogels selected the four-year-old Pekingnese amidst a packed crowd at Madison Square Garden, where he defeated a Dalmatian, German shepherd, Doberman pinscher, Irish setter, a Kerry blue terrier and wire-haired dachshund to win the silver bowl.
“He’s a super dog, who had a stupendous night,” Vogels said.
David Frei, co-host and analyst of the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show outlined how the dogs must feel in the final moment of the competition.
“They want to have that divine moment of inspiration right when the judge is looking at them, and hope the judge points to them,” Frei said.
Although the winner at Westminster does not receive any prize money, the prestige of a win is priceless and will undoubtedly bring in plenty in breeding potential.
ABC News’ Carlos Boettcher contributed to this report.