Is There A Glass Ceiling For Female Dogs In Dogs Shows?

Male dogs win almost twice as often as female dogs at Westminster.

By Justyne Yuen-Lee


Credit: Instagram / @westminsterkennelclub

As the excitement of the 142nd Westminster Week comes to an end and winners go home with their prestigious awards, we take a step back and notice that the number of female competitors versus the number of male competitors differs enough to show a potential problem. This year, 1220 female competitors participated in contrast to the 1699 male competitors. That begs the question: do female dogs get the short end of the stick when it comes to competitive dog shows?


Credit: Instagram / @westminsterkennelclub

At the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Rumor the German Shepherd won Best In Show. Soon after, she gave birth to her first litter of puppies who would likely vie for future dog competition show title with their mother’s winning lineage.


Credit: Instagram / @westminsterkennelclub

Like many other female competitors, Rumor did not participate again this year after her pregnancy. Male dogs, on the other hand, compete over and over again with seemingly nothing standing in their way.


Credit: Instagram / @westminsterkennelclub

A dog’s peak age to compete is 3 to 5 years, which is also the prime breeding age for females. Handlers prefer male dogs over female dogs for this reason. A female’s heat cycle challenges her potential for winning with the changes in temperament, hormones, and shedding.


Credit: Instagram / @westminsterkennelclub

Males can continue to breed and compete without these changes, which bring fewer challenges to handlers.

Betty-Anne Stenmark, the sole judge of this year’s Best In Show category denies the bias against females. She said although appearance has its importance, each sex still has a “50-50 chance” of winning based on the judge’s experience.


Credit: Instagram / @westminsterkennelclub

At the end of the day, male dogs get an easier show training experience and bring a bigger payoff since they do not have to go through the trouble of carrying a litter.


Credit: Instagram / @westminsterkennelclub

Do you think dog competition standard are unfair to female dog competitors? Let us know what you think!