Revisit these Best-in-Show Winners just in time for the National Dog Show

What’s synonymous with Thanksgiving? For some people, it’s turkey, family reunions, travel tie-ups and pie-induced napping. But for others, Thanksgiving means something else: The National Dog Show.

The Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s dog show airs everything Thanksgiving and stars the winningest canines in the country. Perhaps you know it as the program that follows the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the one you leave on TV and forget about until you plop back down on the couch and think, “Oh yeah, this is a thing.”

But this pup pageant is more than background noise for prepping Thanksgiving dinner. These prestigious dogs, who for years are trained and groomed for their few minutes on the national stage, deserve your attention. So ahead of this year’s competition, get to know the last decade of National Dog Show champs, who represent the cutest, furriest and best-behaved pups in the US.

2020: Claire the Scottish Deerhound

Don’t let Claire’s scraggly coat and intimidating tallness fool you — she’s a sweetie at heart.

Full name: Foxcliffe Claire Randall Fraser

Age at time of win: 3

Height: Tall enough to dwarf a toddler and all of the toy group.

Favorite compliment: Commentator David Frei said Claire was “built perfectly, has an active, easy gait” and an elegance befitting for a pup of her pedigree.

Fun fact: Claire comes from a long line of winners: Her grandmother Hickory earned top honors at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and her mother, Chelsea, was named reserve best-in-show at the National Dog Show in 2015 (a reserve winner takes up the best-in-show mantle if the original winner is disqualified).

2019: Thor the Bulldog

The dark horse of the National Dog Show, this tubby young gun has a superheroic spirit.

Full name: Thor. Just Thor.

Age at time of win: 2 — practically a baby!

Favorite descriptors: Fabulous.” “A hunk.” “Athletic.” “Perfection.”

Favorite quote: From his handler, Eduardo Paris: “I love this dog. Thor gives his heart to me every single time.”

Favorite superhero: Black Panther. (Okay, we don’t actually know.)

Fun fact: Thor’s a citizen of the world — born in Peru, he first dazzled his co-owners after winning Best-in-Shows at a Brazilian dog show.

2018: Whiskey the Whippet

The inquisitive yet mellow Whiskey won 23 Best-in-Show titles before scoring big at the 2018 National Dog Show.

Full name: Pinnacle Tennessee Whiskey

Age at time of win: 3

Likes: Showing off, winning, relaxing on his dog-sized orthopedic mattress.

Dislikes: Losing, especially to his littermates.

Favorite expression: Perpetual alarm.

Fun fact: Though Whiskey’s named for the Volunteer State, and his sister, Bourbon, is named for Kentucky’s liquor of choice, both Whippets were born in Georgia. They’re peaches at heart.

2017: Newton the Brussels Griffon

This fancy little man has the face of a Wookie and the heart of a champion.

Full name: Somerset Wynzall Hashtag

Age at time of win: 3

Favorite compliment: “He has one of the best heads I’ve ever seen,” his handler, Susan DePew, told Purina ProClub.

Celebrity lookalike: Chewbacca (though David Frei once called him an Ewok).

Spiritual relatives: Grumpy Cat — they share a similar permafrown.

Fun fact: Newton likes to be cradled like a wee baby and fall asleep in his handler’s arms.

2016: Gia the Greyhound

Gia’s gentle demeanor and searching eyes are impossible to resist.

Full name: GrandCru Giaconda

Age at time of win: 4

Favorite compliment: “She has a head like a snake and can really gallop.” — 2016 Best in Show judge, James G. Reynolds.

Height: Intimidating.

Fun Fact: Gia’s a devoted mother — some of her youngins have even competed in shows themselves, though Gia is still the reigning champ of her family.

2015: Charlie the Skye Terrier

The petite and whimsically hairy Charlie has short legs and a long history on the show circuit.

Full name: Cragsmoor Good Time Charlie

Age at time of win: 4

Favorite compliment: Per handler Larry Cornelius, Charlie is “long, low and level” — the three traits that make for a winning Skye Terrier.

Sight: Obstructed by his blunt bangs.

Fun Fact: Charlie’s National Dog Show win was his 79th Best in Show title and he, like this writer, hails from central Florida.

2014: Nathan the Bloodhound

So this is what the Hound of “The Fox and the Hound” grew up to look like!

Full name: Flessner’s International S’Cess

Age at time of win: 4

Ears: Floppy.

Wrinkles: Too many to count.

Fun Fact: Nathan’s more than a pretty face — he’s a workin’ dog! He’s earned a “Maintrailer” title, per Purina, which means he’s able to track a person by following their specific scent. His is an awards-worthy schnoz.

2013: Jewel the American Foxhound

Not to be confused with the folk singer of the same name, this Jewel is a real gem.

Full name: Kiarry’s Pandora’s Box

Age at time of win: 3

Favorite song: “Whip My Hair,” Willow Smith, according to her owner, Lisa Miller.

Pet peeve: When people mistake her for a beagle. Have you EVER seen a beagle with legs this long?!?!?

Fun fact: Per Miller, Jewel is a “tomboy princess,” complete with a crown.

2012: Sky the Wire Fox Terrier

This perfect pooch is painfully cute — and that smile!

Full name: Afterall Painting the Sky

Age at time of win: 4

Likes: Growing out her beard, photo ops, open-mouth kisses.

Dislikes: When people do not accept her open-mouth kisses.

Favorite film: “Bringing Up Baby,” which starred another famous Wire Fox Terrier.

Fun fact: Two years after her National Dog Show win, sweet Sky earned top honors at the Westminster Dog Show — the final outing for the fuzzy retiree.

2011: Eira the Wire Fox Terrier

The ginger-haired terrier won hearts and many a national title.

Full name: Steele Your Heart

Age at time of win: 4

Likes: Being an absolute drama queen. Her breeder Torie Steele said in 2012 that Eira thinks of herself as the “queen bee” who hogs hotel beds and hams it up for the cameras.

Dislikes: Anything that will dirty her pristine white coat.

Fun fact: “Eira” is the Welsh word for “snow” — fitting for this pup, who was born from the frozen sperm of top terriers from the mid-1980s, according to her breeder.

2010: Clooney the Irish Setter

Clooney’s silky ginger mane rivaled that of Julianne Moore, Carrot Top and Prince Harry.

Full name: Windntide Mr. Sandman

Age at time of win: 3

Favorite hair product: He’d never tell!

Dislikes: Being perhaps the fourth best-known Clooney in the US, behind George, Amal and Rosemary.

Fun fact: Clooney bested Beyoncé — in this case, Beyoncé was an Australian Shepherd who ultimately lost Best-in-Show to Clooney. Clooney had no regrets.

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