Pekingese named Wasabi is top dog at Westminster

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — The flavor of the year at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show: Wasabi.

A Pekingese named Wasabi won best in show Sunday night, notching a fifth-ever win for the unmistakable toy breed. A whippet named Bourbon repeated as runner-up.

Waddling through a small-but-mighty turn in the ring, Wasabi nabbed U.S. dogdom’s most prestigious prize after winning the big American Kennel Club National Championship in 2019.

“He has showmanship. He fits the breed standard. He has that little extra something, that sparkle, that sets a dog apart,” said Wasabi’s handler and breeder, David Fitzpatrick, who guided the Peke’s grandfather Malachy to the Westminster title in 2012.

How will Wasabi celebrate?

“He can have a filet mignon. And I’ll have Champagne,” Fitzpatrick, of East Berlin, Pennsylvania, said with a laugh.

Wasabi came out on top of a finalist pack that also included Mathew the French bulldog, Connor the old English sheepdog, Jade the German shorthaired pointer, Striker the Samoyed, and a West Highland white terrier named Boy. Altogether, 2,500 champion dogs entered the show.

It underwent big changes this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, moving out of New York City for the first time since the show’s 1877 founding. This year’s show was held outdoors at an estate in suburban Tarrytown, about 25 miles north of where the top ribbon is usually presented at Madison Square Garden, and it happened in June instead of February.