Source: CNN

Sage the Miniature Poodle has won best in show at the 2024 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The all-black ball of fluff claimed the non-sporting group earlier in the event, and cemented herself as a new feminist hero by being the first female Best in Show winner since 2020.

Mercedes the German Shepherd, winner of the herding group, claimed second honors of the night as Reserve Best in Show.

Poodles have an illustrious record at Westminster. Twelve standard poodles have taken home the top prize over the years. Poodles of all sizes were also one of the most represented breeds at this year’s event, with 43 entrants.

However, Sage isn’t just a poodle. She’s a Miniature Poodle, and is the 4th of her kind to claim Westminster’s Best in Show.

The Westminster Dog Show has been delighting lovers of finely-groomed pups since 1877, making it the second-oldest continuously held sporting event in the US after the Kentucky Derby.

Every year, about 3,000 dogs and their handlers compete in the storied show. The main competition focuses on how well purebred dogs conform to their breed’s standards. Dogs from every background also compete in the Masters Agility Championship and the Masters Obedience Championship.

Of course, Best in Show is the real gem of the event. The winning dog is chosen from among seven group winners. Each group comprises breeds with similar traits, like a kind of dog astrology. This years group winners were:

Herding group: Mercedes the German Shepherd

Hound Group: Louis the Afghan Hound

Non-sporting group: Sage the Miniature Poodle

Sporting group: Micha the Black Cocker Spaniel

Terrier group: Frankie the Bull Terrier (Colored)

Toy group: Comet the Shih Tzu

Woking group: Monty the Giant Schnauzer

Those unfamiliar with the intricacies of fine dog shows may be surprised to know the fate of the Westminster hopefuls rests in just a few hands. Only one judge makes the winning decision for each of the seven groups, culling (figuratively) one top dog from hundreds. Likewise, there is only one judge for Best in Show. This year, the honor went to Kennel Club judge Rosalind Kramer. As the Best in Show judge, Kramer was sequestered before the final round and didn’t know which dogs she would be judging until she stepped into the ring.

“This is the most incredible lineup of dogs, it’s absolutely glorious,” she said before announcing Best in Show.

The Westminster Dog Show is also the perfect place to learn fun facts about dogs, like the fact that three US presidents have owned Scottish Terriers or that dogs from Canada hold six Westminster “Best in Show” titles.

But not this year. This year, the crown will be worn by a fluffy little lady from Houston, Texas.

“No words, I’m so happy. Exciting,” Sage’s breeder and handler Kaz Hosaka said after the win, in what is his last show after 45 Westminster competitions. “Walked in this ring tonight, she’s kind of not sure, but then she get used to it and then she gave a great performance for me. I’m proud of this dog and thank you very much.”

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