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.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”