The Culture First Look

Rumor the German shepherd confirms she is paws above the rest

Rumor the German shepherd came out of retirement to take Best in Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. She's the first German shepherd to win the top prize in three decades.

Rumor, a German shepherd, looks down at her ribbons after winning Best in Show at the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, on Feb. 15, 2017, in New York.
Julie Jacobson/AP
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A year after she was beaten out by a German short-haired pointer at Madison Square Garden, Rumor came back to win – and firmly placed her pawprint in the history books.

On Tuesday night, the German shepherd, whose handler and co-owner is Kent Boyles, took “Best in Show” at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York. She beat out seven other finalists – including runner-up Adrian the Irish setter – for the top spot.

It was quite the comeback for 5-year-old Rumor, who was off the show circuit, and technically in retirement, until January. And though German shepherds are perennial favorites with the New York crowds, her win marks just the second time that a German shepherd has won the top prize.

"The German shepherd standard talks about quality and nobility," judge Thomas Bradley III said in an interview with broadcasters. "When you recognize it, it hits you at home, and that's what it really is. She is just magnificent."

The Westminster Kennel Club, America’s most prestigious dog show, began in 1877, making it the second longest-running sporting event in the country, behind the Kentucky Derby. It draws the top canine talent from across the United States and around the world. In 2017, there were almost 2,800 contestants from 49 states and 16 foreign countries.

There are 202 eligible breeds, and all dogs are judged on characteristics specific to their breed. Depending on their breed, the dogs then compete for the top prize in various categories. The winner of each category advances to the final round to vie for best in show.

In the competition on Monday night, Rumor won the herding group, while Adrian – the eventual runner-up – claimed first prize in the sporting group. Other finalists included a boxer, Devlin, who won the working group, and Tanner, a Norwich terrier, who was victorious in the terrier group. 

Monday night’s win was déjà vu for Rumor, who is named for the Adele song “Rumor Has It.” Ranked No. 1 in the country going into last year’s competition, she took first place in the herding group before a surprise victory by a German shorthaired pointer named CJ closed her out of the "Best in Show" title.

That was supposed to be the end of Rumor’s show career. Mr. Boyles, who has been breeding German shepherds for 35 years, planned to take her home to Wisconsin as a house pet. She was also supposed to have puppies. But when that didn’t happen, he started to wonder about reviving her show career.

"She liked to show and was in good shape, so we thought, why not?" he said.

Though Boyle says Rumor will now retire, Tuesday night’s victory in the final round means she can go out on top. After 10 competitions in January, Rumor now walks away as “Best in Show,” making her the first German shepherd to win the top prize since Manhattan won in 1987, and just the second in the show’s history.

"This was definitely the ultimate type of win for her," Boyles said.

This report includes material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

Editor's note: This article was updated to clarify that although Rumor was beat out of the 2016 "Best in Show" title, she was not the runner-up.