A four-year-old black pooch named Sage won the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (Credit: Westminsterkennelclub.org/ CC-BY-SA-4.0)

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is America's oldest and most prestigious dog show. This year's event marked the contest's 148th year. It was held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York, from May 11 to 14, 2024. The event featured 2,500 hopeful pooches from over 200 breeds.

Mercedes, a German Shepherd, won in the Herding group (Credit: Westminsterkennelclub.org/ CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Each entrant was assigned to one of seven groups — Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. These groups separate breeds into categories with similar characteristics so they can be compared fairly. For example, the Herding group includes breeds developed to gather, herd, and protect livestock. They include sheepdogs and border collies.

The dogs first competed against others of the same breed for the "Best in Breed" title. Category winners then faced off against other top dogs in their respective groups. The seven "Best in Group" winners were the finalists for the coveted "Best in Show" title.

Comet, a Shih Tzu, won in the Toy group (Credit: Westminsterkennelclub.org/ CC-BY-SA-4.0)

The impressive lineup included Louis, an elegant Afghan Hound; Comet, a charming Shih Tzu; and Mercedes, an agile German Shepherd. Rounding out the group were Micha, a sleek black Cocker Spaniel; Monty, a powerful Giant Schnauzer; and Frankie, a feisty Bull Terrier. All the competitors were impressive. But it was Sage, a miniature poodle with a stylish hairdo, that won the judge's nod for the championship title.

The four-year-old black pooch from Houston, Texas, is the first female to win the top prize at Westminster since 2020. She is also only the fourth miniature poodle to earn the top honor since the contest began in 1877. Sage's victory was perfectly timed for her handler, Kaz Hosaka, who was retiring after a remarkable 45 Westminster Dog Shows.

Sage was awarded a purple and gold ribbon and silver trophy (Credit: westminsterkennelclub.org/ CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Along with the prestigious title, Sage received the customary purple and gold ribbon and a massive silver trophy. She also enjoyed some of the perks of being America's top dog. They included an appearance on several national television shows and a special dinner at New York City's Bar Boulud.

Resources: PBS.org, VOA.com, Westminsterkennelclub.org