Best in Show winner at 2021 National Dog Show makes history

Claire is an absolute champ.

At the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s annual National Dog Show, history was made when Claire, a Scottish Deerhound who was also crowned last year as Best in Show, became the first to be named Best of Show.

Claire’s victory marks the first time a dog has won back-to-back in the show’s 20 year history, hosts noted.

She was cheered on by vaccinated spectators — a return toward normal after last year’s scaled-down, fan-less spectacle — as she pranced in a victory lap around the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania. It was filmed Nov. 20-21 and aired on Thursday by NBC.

“She’s a year older and more sure of herself,” her handler Angela Lloyd said.

Claire, a 4-year-old Hound who was also part of the group won a $20,000 prize along with the glory. She was first to earn the title last year.

The Biewer Terrier won its second consecutive victory and stole the show in Toy Group on Thursday.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the National Dog Show, which has become somewhat of a Thanksgiving Day tradition, airing immediately after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The 2021 event was hosted by John O’Hurley and David Frei, who have both played emcee for the show since it first aired on NBC in 2002.

The Biewer Terrier will make its debut at the show.
It was the debut of The Biewer Terrier at the event.
Bill McCay/NBC
Handler Angela Lloyd celebrates with her winning Scottish Deerhound, Claire.
Angela Lloyd, Handler celebrates her Scottish Deerhound winner Claire.
Bill McCay/NBC
Two Long Coat Chihuahuas competing.
Two Long Coat Chihuahuas competing.
Bill McCay/NBC
A Komondor, which competed in the Working Group.
One Komondor was a competitor in the Working Group.
Bill McCay/NBC
A Toy Poodle held by its owner.
Owner holding a toy dog.
Bill McCay/NBC
The Borzoi meeting a judge.
Meeting a Judge by the Borzoi
Bill McCay/NBC

“We estimate that, since then, one-quarter of a billion people have watched,” organizers said in a statement.

“Dogs more than ever have become a part of people’s lives and the show reminds us of how great they are and how easy it is for them to make us smile,” added O’Hurley, best known for playing clothing catalog mogul J. Peterman on “Seinfeld.”

The Soft Coated Wheaten with its owner.
Soft coated wheaten, with its owner.
Bill McCay/NBC
The Shetland Sheepdog posing for the cameras.
This is the Shetland sheepdog, posing in front of the cameras.
Bill McCay/NBC
The Pumi was recognized as a breed by the AKC in 2016.
In 2016, the AKC recognized the Pumi as a breed.
Bill McCay/NBC
The Puli being judged.
Judgement of the Puli
Bill McCay/NBC
The Portuguese Water Dog running with its owner.
Portuguese Water Dog with owner.
Bill McCay/NBC

This year, 209 dog breeds and varieties, all purebreds sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, were split into seven different groups — Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding — to select the winner of the coveted Best in Show title. Last year, only 600 dogs entered — a far cry from the nearly 2,000 that typically compete in the show.

Claire was also awarded the 2020 National Dog Show title, making her the first ever winner of this coveted title. She beat seven other finalists, and 538 entries.

National Dog Show Best In Show Winner, Scottish Deerhound named "Claire."
Claire, a Scottish Deerhound, was also the National Dog Show’s 2020 Best In Show winner.
Bill McCay/NBC
John O'Hurley holding a Biewer Terrier, the newest breed to compete.
John O’Hurley holding a Biewer Terrier, the newest breed to compete.
Simon Bruty
Miniature Poodle competing in the show.
The show features a miniature poodle.
Bill McCay/NBC
The Long Haired Dachshund hoping for a win.
A long-haired Dachshund looking for victory.
Bill McCay/NBC
An Italian Greyhound in the judging process.
A greyhound from Italy is a judge.
Bill McCay/NBC

The show, which was founded in 1879, has been held annually since 1933, but NBC’s first broadcast happened less than two decades ago. Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network, told The Post in 2013 that Christopher Guest’s beloved 2000 mockumentary “Best in Show” actually inspired him to air the show on a national scale.

“The ratings surprised everyone that first year, and it’s been on the air ever since,” Miller said. He also credits his wife, Janine, as the “genius” who came up with the concept.

An Irish Wolfhound doing a lap with its owner.
A lap of the Irish Wolfhound with his owner.
Bill McCay/NBC
The Irish Setter making its rounds.
Irish Setter on the move.
Bill McCay/NBC
The ASCOB Cocker Spaniel held by its owner.
Its owner holds the ASCOB cockerspaniel.
Bill McCay/NBC
Hosts David Frei and John O'Hurley.
Hosts David Frei and John O’Hurley.
Bill McCay/NBC

“I’m very proud of the fact, after 44 years at NBC, it’s one property that will live far after I am gone,” he added.

Judges select winners by examining the dog and how closely each dog compares with the perfection of the “perfect dog” in the breed’s official standard. Conformation, overall appearance, temperament, structure and movement are all considered, as well as the dog’s ability to “perform the function for which his or her breed was bred.”

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