Who Is the Dog on the Westminster Kennel Club Logo
The image of a dog on the Westminster Kennel Club logo defines what the kennel club is all about. But why was this one particular dog deemed worthy of being immortalized on the club's logo and what was his name?
The image of a dog on the Westminster Kennel Club logo defines what the kennel club is all about. Any dog lover who has watched the Westminster Dog Show on TV or viewed one of their programs is familiar with their logo. The dog in the image is named Sensation and was the pride and joy of the kennel club in the early years of the club. Sensation's rise to fame began across the pond in England. But why was this one particular dog deemed worthy of being immortalized on the club's logo?
Westminster Kennel Club is named after a hotel that was located in Manhattan. A group of high society gentlemen would meet regularly at the hotel's bar, bragging and inventing tale tales about their dogs and skills with a gun. They decided to form a club in 1876 where they could have a training area and kennel for their dogs. The Westminster Hotel, which is no longer standing, was a popular place for high society of the time and one of Charles Dickens's favorite hotels to stay at when he was in the country. So when it came time to give their new club a name, Westminster, the men's favorite bar, was the unanimous choice.
Looking for fresh breeding stock for their newly formed kennel, one of the charter members, George DeForest Grant, boarded a boat in 1876 to England in search of the perfect dog to add to their collection of Pointers. Sensation was born in England in 1874, a handsome lemon and white dog. Grant liked what he saw and soon Sensation, whose call name was "Don", arrived at the Westminster Kennel Club. He had already made his mark on England as a successful dog in the field and the kennel club had high hopes he would full fill their needs. The reason why Sensation was the dog adopted as the club's mascot and represent Westminster Kennel Club is because he was considered to have had the best head of any Pointer that ever lived. Since 1936, Sensation's image has been used as the Westminster Kennel Club's logo and printed on their catalogs for the Westminster Dog Show.
Sensation died June of 1887. The exact location of his resting place is unknown. He was buried.
beside a flagpole with a Pointer on top of a weather vane that always pointed into the wind which was located in front of the Westminster clubhouse in Babylon, New York. The clubhouse was later relocated and Sensation's exact grave site has been lost. The closest you can get is the general area based on old maps and photographs.
Pointers were first documented in England in 1650, but most likely, they were brought back to England by English officers in 1713 when they returned from the Netherlands after fighting in the War of the Spanish Succession. At the time, Netherlands was controlled by Spain. The dog was called the Spanish Pointer and was heavier, slower and bigger than today's pointer.
The Pointer we know today is believed to be a cross between the Greyhound, Bull Dog, Newfoundland, Italian Pointer, Setter, Foxhound and Bloodhound while the dog was still in England. They were bred to be a hunter's right hand dog, so to speak. Because of their strong sense of smell, pointers were used to locate and point out their prey. The early Pointers were slow and their only job was to find prey and it was Retrievers, Setters or Greyhounds who gave chase. At one time, the Irish Setter held the top spot in hunter's heart as a hunting dog, until the Pointer proved they had the right stuff in head to head contests with the Setter. Able to work faster and find game in a shorter period, the Pointer soon began to take top honors and continues to hold that distinction today.
More than likely, the dog was brought to this country by early colonist, but actual accounts weren't documented until the period during the Civil War. The Pointer was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1879.
Today's Pointer works fast and has the ability to cover a lot a ground. They are experts at finding and pointing the way to Quail, Pheasant, Grouse and Woodchuck and are well known for their reliance on holding a point as long as necessary. Once known as English or Spanish Pointers, today they are just called Pointers. In the southern part of the United States, they are also called "Bird Dog".
Sensation was a special dog and in the eyes of the men of the Westminster Kennel Club, perfect in every way. Because they raised and promoted Pointers, it seemed fitting to use the image of the dog they felt was the best example of the Pointer.