Here’s a fun fact to keep in your back pocket for trivia night: Male dogs are more likely to win the coveted “Best in Show” prize at the Westminster Dog Show each year. According to Quartz, since 1907 male dogs have been victorious 71 times to 39 times for female dogs — which is nearly twice as often. So, why do the odds seem to be in the favor of male dogs?
Well, it all comes down to the numbers.
This year, nearly 3,000 dogs competed. According to Quartz, 1,700 were male and 1,220 were female. So, statistically, it was more likely for a male to win. But why are there fewer female dogs competing in the first place? You can blame biology.
The prime time for a dog to show is between ages three and five, which also happens to be the prime breeding time for females, according to Reuters.
It turns out that many owners of female dogs (called “bitches”) prefer to breed them rather than compete. “People don’t like to campaign females because they don’t like to jeopardize their breeding program,” Kimberly Calvacca, a professional handler and breeder told Reuters. “Males can be used to stud anytime, and still show and breed at the same time.” For example, even last year’s winner, a female German Shepherd named Rumor retired and has already had a litter of puppies, Reuters explained.
According to the New York Times, the judges are looking to see how well each dog lives up to the qualifiers of its breed description (i.e. is your German Shepherd smart, confident and courageous). So, arguably sex is not a factor in the decision process, but determining whether a dog lives up to the ideal nature of its breed is highly subjective.
This Year’s Winner: Flynn The Bichon Frise
The 2018 winner of the Westminster Dog Show happened to be male — an adorable Bichon Frise named Flynn. It will ultimately be up to Flynn’s owners, his handler has said, but the dog will likely retire from showing at shows after this big win.
The Westminster Dog Show began in 1877, and it seems as though the tradition is becoming antiquated, especially given the discrepancy between male and female competitors. But you’ve got to admit: Flynn is a cutie.