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The Westminster Kennel Club Announces Judging Panel for 149th Annual Dog Show

Mrs. Paula Nykiel - Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2025 Best in Show Judge

The Westminster Kennel Club Announces Judging Panel for 149th Annual Dog Show Making Its Highly Anticipated Return to Manhattan in 2025

New York, NY (June 14, 2024) — The Westminster Kennel Club is thrilled to announce the Best in Show judge and judging panel for the 149th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Presented by Purina Pro Plan. America’s most prestigious dog show will make its anticipated return to two iconic venues in New York City on February 8, 10 & 11, 2025—Madison Square Garden (MSG), Westminster’s original home—which will host group judging and the Best in Show Ceremony, and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (Javits Center) for additional events. Mrs. Paula Nykiel of Washington, Missouri will select America’s Dog at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” on the evening of Tuesday, February 11.

Veteran breeder and owner-handler Paula Nykiel has been involved with the sport of purpose-bred dogs for nearly 50 years. She has bred over 50 Pointer Champions under her Sydmar banner, including the breed’s all-time top producer, Ch. Sydmar the Heartless Wench. Paula owner-handled her Pointers to the #1 ranking in 1978, 1979, and 1982.

She transitioned to judging in 1990 and has since judged 33 National Specialties in the Sporting, Hound, and Working Groups. International assignments have included Sweden, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, and Mexico.

Paula is a lifetime member of the American Pointer Club, a current member of the Judges Education Committee, and a founding and lifetime member of the Missouri Rhineland Kennel Club and the Gateway Sporting Dog Association. The 2025 Best in Show assignment will be Paula’s ninth at Westminster. She previously judged the Sporting Group in 2005 and 2017, as well as the Working Group in 2009 and 2023.

Recently, Paula received the esteemed “Judge of the Year” honor in the 2023 Show Dogs of the Year Awards.

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2025 Judging Panel
Mrs. Paula Nykiel – Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2025 Best in Show Judge

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2025 Judging Panel

Seven Group Judges will make their selections over two nights at Madison Square Garden with their winning dogs advancing to the Best in Show competition.

On Monday, February 10, the following judges will select four Group winners to advance to the Best in Show competition: Mr. Harold Tatro, III of Crowley, TX for the Hound Group; Mrs. Angela Pickett of Chuluota, FL for the Toy Group; Mrs. Vicki Seiler-Cushman of Xenia, OH for the Non-Sporting Group; and Ms. Janina K. Laurin of Ashford, CT for the Herding Group.

On Tuesday, February 11, the following judges will select the remaining three Group winners to advance to Best in Show: Mrs. Virginia Murray of Island Lake, IL for the Sporting Group; Dr. Niksa Lemo of Zagreb, Croatia for the Working Group; and Mr. David Kirkland of Sanford, NC for the Terrier Group.

On the heels of celebrating its 90th anniversary in May 2024, the Junior Showmanship competition at Westminster, which highlights and supports the dedicated youth in the sport of dogs, and Junior Showmanship Finals judge Ms. Elizabeth Jordan-Nelson of Sacramento, CA will name the Best Junior Handler on Tuesday, February 11 at MSG. The eight junior showmanship finalists will be determined in preliminary rounds by judges Mr. Adam Peterson of Seagrove, NC, and Mrs. Kellie Williams of Riverview, FL.

The 12th Annual Masters Agility Championship Presented by Purina Pro Plan takes place at the Javits Center on Saturday, February 8, and will be judged by Mrs. Michele Fletcher of Pikeville, TN, and Mr. Paul Moore of Welford Northants, England.

The judging panel for the Best of Breed or Variety competitions includes:

Hound Breeds and Varieties

Toy Breeds and Varieties

Non-Sporting Breeds

Herding Breeds and Varieties

Sporting Breeds and Varieties

Working Breeds

Terrier Breeds and Varieties

Additional event information including ticket sales, partner hotel listings, FOX Sports broadcast and streaming schedules, and more are available at Be sure to follow The Westminster Kennel Club on social media to keep up on event news and special announcements.