The National Dog Show Turns 20

Best in Show Claire

The famous Thanksgiving Day televised dog show, “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina,” celebrated its 20-year anniversary in 2021. Reaching 20 million plus viewers each year, the National Dog Show is taped for TV at the Saturday dog show of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia.

The show’s charm comes from the friendly bantering of its funny, witty commentators, dog expert David Frei and actor-comedian John O’Hurley of “Seinfeld” fame. Trying to guess which dog will win Best in Show along with heartfelt vignettes about dogs enriching our lives add to its appeal.

“People love seeing the gorgeous, purposefully bred dogs and learning about the breeds,” says Purina Director of Conformation Ann Viklund, the first woman elected to the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s board of directors. 

The idea for the televised dog show came from the hilarious 2000 movie “Best in Show” co-written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy. A parody on real-life dog shows, the mockumentary spoofed five owner-handler teams competing at the make-believe Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show in Philadelphia. 

NBC Sports executive Jon Miller, whose wife suggested the show after watching the movie, turned the idea into a reality. After learning that the oldest dog show in the country was held in Philadelphia in 1874, Miller contacted Wayne Ferguson, president of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, who initially was intrigued but cautious.

After convincing Ferguson of NBC’s good intentions, Miller reached out to Purina executives seeking a sponsor. Purina welcomed the opportunity to promote the dog show and also the bond that people share with dogs. The Thanksgiving Day time slot following the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” was a catalyst for success.

Professional dog handler Karen Mammano of Webster, New York, recalls winning the Sporting Group in 2019 with the Golden Retriever “Daniel” (MBIS/MBISS GCHP Hillock’s Jack Daniel’S). “The support and excitement from the public was amazing,” she says. 

Reflecting on the ever-growing popularity of the National Dog Show after 20 years, Frei says, “Watching dogs makes us feel good. This show is now established on a great family holiday. It is a wonderful celebration of the sport and most significantly of the dogs in our lives.” 


National Dog Show Best in Show Winners

2020: GCHG Foxcliffe Claire Randall Frasier

2019: GCHG Diamond Gold Majesu Pisko Bulls

2018: GCHP Pinnacle Tennessee Whiskey

2017: GCH Somerset Wynzall Hashtag 

2016: GCH GrandCru Giaconda CGC

2015: GCH Cragsmoor Good Time Charlie

2014: GCH Flessner’s International S’Cess MT

2013: GCH Kiarry’s Pandora’s Box

2012: GCH Afterall Painting the Sky

2011: GCH Steele Your Heart

2010: GCH Windntide Mr. Sandman

2009: CH Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot

2008: CH Cookieland Seasyde Hollyberry

2007: CH Buff Cap Creslane Arctic Mist

2006: CH Smash JP Win A Victory

2005: CH Rocky Top’s Sundance Kid

2004: CH Aimhi Avalon Renaissance

2003: CH Blue Chip Purple Reign

2002: CH Ale Kai Mikimoto on Fifth