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Meet The New Top Dog Judge At Westminster

The Westminster Kennel Club 139th Annual Dog Show concludes tonight with the much-anticipated anointing of the Best in Show dog.

Taking to the ring to judge that dog will be David Merriam. Merriam is a retired judge, champion breeder of bull terriers and past chairman of board of the American Kennel Club, but this will be his first time judging the Best in Show dog at Westminster.

Merriam told Here & Now’s Robin Young that he’s not nervous because “once the dog is picked, all the focus goes to the dog and the judge is quite forgotten. He might as well disappear.”

Interview Highlights

On the predictions for Best in Show

“I haven’t judged Best in Show before, this will be the first time I’ve done it. Although I’ve been approved by the Kennel Club to judge it for the last 40 years, I just have elected not to. So I haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to the Best in Show winners. But what I’m gonna try a do is not judge the dogs on their past records. I’m gonna judge them on how they look in the rink tonight, as if it were their first time show… The stakes are high. Many of these people have been gearing for this night for one, two, three years. And so it’s terribly important to them, and that’s why they want an unbiased, subjective decision. They don’t want someone to come in who’s already made up their mind.”

On how the dogs are judged

“The American Kennel Club establishes written standard for what the ideal or the so-called perfect Chihuahua is. It’s all written down and it tries to detail all the physical aspects of the dog.”

On whether he thinks mixed-breed dogs should be included

“No, because the American Kennel Club was formed to promote the breeding and exhibiting of purebred dogs.”

Guest

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A SealyhamTerrier waits in the benching area at Pier 92 and 94 in New York City on the 2nd day of competition at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 17, 2015. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
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A SealyhamTerrier waits in the benching area at Pier 92 and 94 in New York City on the 2nd day of competition at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 17, 2015. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
A West Highland White Terrier  in the benching area at Pier 92 and 94 in New York City on the 2nd day of competition at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 17, 2015. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
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A West Highland White Terrier in the benching area at Pier 92 and 94 in New York City on the 2nd day of competition at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 17, 2015. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
A Saint Bernard stands in the benching area at Pier 92 and 94 in New York City on the 2nd day of competition at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 17, 2015. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
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A Saint Bernard stands in the benching area at Pier 92 and 94 in New York City on the 2nd day of competition at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 17, 2015. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
A Spaniel waits in the benching area at Pier 92 and 94 in New York City on the 2nd day of competition at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 17, 2015. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
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A Spaniel waits in the benching area at Pier 92 and 94 in New York City on the 2nd day of competition at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 17, 2015. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)