If you (and your pets) are making plans to watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, you may be surprised to learn, not all the competitors are puppies, or even young adults. Records show 14 dogs over the age of 5 have earned Best in Show honors since the competition started in 1877.

We know what you’re probably thinking — five years old is considered a “senior” dog?

Well, when you are talking about show dogs — once past their physical peak which is often by age 4 — it’s typically time to retire. But, then again, it can all depend on the dog. “Adult and senior dogs who have never had any formal, structured training can still grasp the idea of following instructions in order to obtain a reward,” The Gray Muzzle Organization Advisory Board Member Mikkel Becker says. Our friends with Gray Muzzle believe older dogs should learn new tricks, and for many the combination of exercise and our brain supplement Neutricks, can keep your dog’s mind sharp as it ages.

But there’s more: “The bigger reward of training, for both dog and human, is increased communication and bonding between pet and owner,” Becker says. So no matter your dog’s age, training is good for both of you!

Now, back to the big show, and those dogs who trained to be in the spotlight there.

The 3 at the top of the “oldest” list prove, age is just a number:

Westminster Senior #1: Stump

Stump (Ch Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee) wasn’t only one of the oldest dogs to compete at Westminster in 2009, but at 10, was the oldest ever to take home the Best in Show prize. The Sussex spaniel was also the first of his breed to win the top honor. Stump’s biggest accolades came after a 5 year hiatus from competition; when prior to 2004, he’d won more than 50 Best in Show prizes. Following his win, and well into retirement, Stump helped promote Angel on a Leash. The program based in New York sends therapy dogs into hospitals to visit with patients. He died in 2012.

Westminster Senior #2: Kirby

Second oldest was Kirby (Ch Loteki Supernatural Being). The then 8 year old Papillon, earned Best in Show title in 1999, but didn’t stop there. Kirby also won the World Show and Canadian Royal Show, which is a rare feat, no matter the dog’s age. Kirby died in 2007 at the age of 17.

Westminster Senior #3: Hatter

And third on the list is Hatter (Ch Covy Tucker Hill’s Manhattan). The German shepherd was 7 when he won the top prize in 1987, and remains the winningest dog of his breed in history. But German shepherds are also known for a shorter lifespan, so for his biggest win to come at the age of 7, was quite an accomplishment.

Follow the WKC Dog Show

Want to keep tabs on who is doing well at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show? We are a proud sponsor of Talkin’ Pets with Jon Patch, and he will be live from the main hotel for the show, Hotel Pennsylvania, on Saturday, February 13th from 5-8pm (EST). He’ll be covering the biggest events of the show on the 15th and 16th via social media. We invite you to listen, and take part, here: http://talkinpets.com/new/

For those of you who are social media savvy, you can also follow the dog show on Twitter using the hashtag #WKCDogShow.