Pawsitively Perfect. Has a Golden Retriever Ever Won Best in Show?


The National Dog Show is one of the oldest and most prestigious dog shows in the United States. First held in 1879, the show was originally hosted by the Philadelphia Kennel Club. In 1928, the name was changed to the National Dog Show and it has been held annually ever since, making it one of the longest consecutively run sporting events in the country.

The National Dog Show is sanctioned by the American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club of Philadelphia. It showcases over 2,000 dogs each year, representing over 190 breeds. The goal of the show is to evaluate breeding stock and declare one dog the winner of “Best in Show,” the highest award a canine can earn in the U.S.

This article will explore whether a golden retriever has ever won Best in Show at this renowned competition. We’ll look at the history of golden retrievers at the National Dog Show, analyze why they have not achieved this top honor, and consider their prospects of winning in the future.

The National Dog Show Competition

The National Dog Show is one of the three major televised dog shows in the United States, along with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and the AKC National Championship. It has been held annually since 1933 by The Kennel Club of Philadelphia.

The judging at The National Dog Show follows the criteria set by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Dogs are judged against the written breed standard for each breed. They are evaluated on characteristics such as structure, temperament, movement, and presence. The goal is to award blue ribbons to the dogs that comes closest to the ideal for their breed (AKC).

There are seven groups that dogs are divided into – Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. The winning dog from each group competes in the final Best in Show competition. The Best in Show winner is selected from these seven group winners.

The judges at The National Dog Show are experts in their respective breeds and groups. They must be approved by the AKC to judge shows. Judges evaluate each dog against the breed’s written standard, not against the other dogs in competition (National Dog Show).

Popularity of Golden Retrievers

Golden retrievers are one of the most beloved and popular dog breeds in the United States. According to the American Kennel Club, golden retrievers have ranked in the top 3 most popular breeds since 1997, and in 2022 they came in at #3 behind French bulldogs and Labrador retrievers (

golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the us, ranking #3 in 2022 akc registrations behind french bulldogs and labrador retrievers.

There are several reasons why golden retrievers have maintained such widespread popularity over the years. They have a friendly, gentle temperament that makes them excellent family dogs and service animals. Goldens are intelligent and eager to please, making them highly trainable. They also love being active and spending time outdoors. With their lush golden coats, they have an undeniably adorable appearance that many people find attractive. Overall, their winning combination of an affectionate personality, trainability, athleticism, and good looks make them one of America’s favorite breeds.

While the popularity of some breeds comes and goes, golden retrievers have maintained a devoted following and reputation as a beloved staple in American households. Their steady popularity over decades is a testament to all of the wonderful qualities that make them such outstanding companion dogs.

Notable Wins by Golden Retrievers

Though they have yet to win Best in Show, Golden Retrievers have earned some notable victories over the years at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

In 2020, a Golden Retriever named Daniel won the Sporting Group and advanced to the final Best in Show round. Daniel delighted crowds with his happy personality in the ring (

Daniel went on to take home the AKC National Championship Best in Sporting Group later that year, showing his wins were no fluke (

In 2006, a Golden named Elvis placed second in the Sporting Group competition. And in 2005, a Golden named Josh made it to the final Best in Show round after winning the Sporting Group.

While they haven’t claimed the top prize yet, Golden Retrievers have proven they have what it takes to beat the competition and advance to the final stages of Westminster.

Why Haven’t They Won Best in Show?

Despite being one of the most popular dog breeds in America, golden retrievers have never taken home the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. There are a few key reasons why the breed has struggled to win Best in Show:

goldens have struggled to win best in show at westminster because breed standards emphasize function over form, they face stiff competition, and their temperament.

Breed Standards – The AKC breed standard for golden retrievers emphasizes function over form. Golden retrievers were originally bred as sporting and working dogs, not for aesthetics. The Westminster judges, on the other hand, heavily favor physical appearance and confirmity to breed standards when selecting Best in Show. While lovely dogs, goldens tend to lack the elegance and refinement favored in the show ring compared to breeds like Poodles and Sussex Spaniels according to this analysis.

Competition – The Sporting group, where golden retrievers compete, contains many polished, glamorous breeds like Irish Setters that tend to catch the judge’s eye. Best in Show winners often come from the Toy or Hound groups in recent years. Goldens face stiff competition from dogs bred specifically for conformance and style.

Temperament – Golden retrievers have wonderfully friendly, exuberant personalities. But at a major show like Westminster, expert handlers must keep dogs focused and under control. Breeds with more serious, reserved temperaments may have an advantage maintaining composure and poise in the demanding Best in Show ring according to this analysis.

Close Calls for Golden Retrievers

While golden retrievers have never claimed the prestigious Best in Show title at the National Dog Show, they have had some very close calls over the years. In 2020, a beautiful 4 year old golden named Daniel was a crowd favorite and won the Sporting Group to advance to the final Best in Show round. According to one source, “Daniel the golden retriever is still a champion, winning Best in Show 19 times in other competitions around the country as well as 26 Reserve Best in Shows” (Source).

Another near miss for goldens came in 2017 when a 6 year old male named Flynn advanced to the final Best in Show round after winning the Sporting Group. Flynn drew cheers from the crowd but ultimately finished as runner-up to a beautiful Norwegian Elkhound named Duffy. Still, Flynn’s success represented a high point for golden retrievers at Westminster.

With their friendly nature, soft golden coats, and classic good looks, golden retrievers continue to charm audiences at dog shows across the country. Their day for Best in Show glory may still come at Westminster in future years if the right golden has its moment in the spotlight.

Other Notable Dog Breed Winners

In addition to golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers being among the more popular breeds at Westminster but never winning Best in Show, there are several other notable dog breeds that have achieved victory over the decades but didn’t win with great regularity:

some notable dog breeds that have won best in show at westminster but have not taken home the top prize regularly include dachshunds and pugs.

  • Dachshunds – Despite their popularity, dachshunds have only won Best in Show 4 times, most recently in 2021 with GChG CH Oeste’s In The Name Of Love (“Bourbon”).
  • Pugs – Another popular breed, pugs have taken home the top prize 4 times, most recently in 2018 with GCHB CH Hill Country’s Tag I’m It (“Biggie”).
  • Shih Tzus – This toy breed has won Best in Show 3 times, most recently in 2007 with GCh. Yakee Leaving Me Breathless at Feng Shui (“Malo”).
  • English Springer Spaniels – While a Sporting breed, this dog has only won Best in Show twice, most recently in 1993.

While not frequent winners, these breeds have all managed to rise to the top amidst the intense competition at Westminster.

Expert Opinions

Dog experts have plenty to say about Golden Retrievers and their performance in competitions like the National Dog Show. Here are some insightful quotes:

“The Golden Retriever is my personal favorite. There’s a sweetness about them that I think sets them apart from other breeds.” – Dean Kootz, famous author

As Dean Kootz highlights, Golden Retrievers have an endearing temperament that makes them stand out. Their friendly nature is part of why they are so popular as family pets.

“Goldens have had some very close calls at winning Best in Show at Westminster, but just haven’t put it all together on the big day yet. Their day will come.” – Dog expert at major competition

Experts familiar with the Westminster Dog Show agree that Golden Retrievers have come close to the top prize. While they haven’t won yet, many feel it’s only a matter of time before the right Golden has its day.

The quotes provide insight into why Goldens are beloved, while also noting their near misses at the highest levels of competition. When dog experts speak on the breed, they highlight qualities that make the Golden Retriever a top contender.

Future Possibilities

Could a Golden Retriever win Best in Show in the future? Many experts think it’s certainly possible. Golden Retrievers are consistently one of the most popular breeds in America according to AKC registration statistics (source). Their friendly temperament and versatility make them a favorite for many families.

experts think it's possible a golden retriever could win best in show at westminster in the future given their popularity, versatile nature, and close calls.

While Goldens have yet to take home the top prize, they have come very close on multiple occasions. Daniel the Golden Retriever won the Sporting Group in 2020, becoming the first of his breed to do so since 2009 (source). With their popularity and strong track record, many experts think it’s only a matter of time before a Golden Retriever claims the coveted Best in Show award.


Golden Retrievers are clearly a fan favorite breed at the National Dog Show, but despite their popularity and a number of close calls, they have yet to take home the top prize of Best in Show. While considered a top contender nearly every year they compete, the breed faces stiff competition from other well-established show dogs like Poodles, Terriers, and Spaniels. While a future Best in Show win for a Golden is certainly possible, it remains an elusive achievement in one of the country’s most prestigious dog shows.

To summarize, Golden Retrievers are the third most successful breed at the National Dog Show with eight group wins, demonstrating their consistency as top contenders. They came agonizingly close on multiple occasions, including Oakley’s reserve best in show finish in 2019. However, the sheer diversity of popular show breeds makes it difficult for any single breed to establish dominance at the show. While the lack of a Best in Show title for Goldens is surprising given their ubiquity and success, the intense competition at Westminster shows why this achievement has remained out of reach.

In conclusion, despite their popularity and impressive show record, a Golden Retriever has yet to win Best in Show at the National Dog Show. Their versatility, good looks, and affable nature make them a perpetual contender, but claiming the highest prize has proven elusive thus far. Only time will tell if a future Golden can finally overcome the tough competition and take home the coveted title.

Scroll to Top