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Interview with Elizabeth (Beth) Sweigart – 2023 WKC Dog Show BIS Judge

Elizabeth (Beth) Sweigart, the 2023 WKC Dog Show BIS Judge, is pictured holding an acolade in the show ring.


Interview with Elizabeth (Beth) Sweigart – 2023 WKC Dog Show BIS Judge

Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge Best in Show at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?

Elizabeth Sweigart: Oh course, when I received the call inviting me to judge Best in Show at Westminster, I was thrilled and surprised. It is, of course, the show all judges aspire to judge whether it be in the Breed level, the Group level, or for the highest accolade, to do Best in Show. It is, of course, also the show that all handlers and owners want to win and all judges want to judge.


What does it mean to head the judging panel at this historic show?

Elizabeth Sweigart: I think it is an awesome responsibility, as the whole world is watching and your selection will affect the breed that you select in many ways—instant popularity being one.


In your opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC events?

The new venue is awe-inspiring and has the same “vibe” as The Garden.


What were you thinking or feeling moments before you stepped into the center of the BIS ring?

Elizabeth Sweigart: I was nervous from the time they asked me to the time I stepped in the ring, but once I started judging, everything fell into place and I had a really good time.


Was there a heightened energy coming from the dog and handler teams? Did you feel the energy of the spectators?

Elizabeth Sweigart: I think the energy was electric and felt by the audience, the handlers, and myself. The dogs themselves seemed to put on their best performance too!


Do you have a word or two about your Best in Show winner? About the Group winners?

Elizabeth Sweigart: The Group winners were all outstanding and worthy to have been selected. To my mind, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen was outstanding. He was in fabulous condition, and from the moment he walked in the ring he owned it. His carriage, his movement, his condition are all fabulous. He had a beautiful head and expression, was well made with correct shoulder placement, good topline, and perfect tail carriage. He was presented beautifully without being over-groomed. I was pleased to learn that Peter gave his grandmother Best in Show at Welsh Kennel Club a number of years ago.

The Reserve Best in Show winner, the Pekingese, is another stunning dog bred by David Fitzpatrick. Presented in lovely condition, he exudes breed type with a beautiful head and expression, lovely eye, very correct body shape… and he moved exactly as a Pekinese should.


There is no other show quite like Westminster. Is there anything you’d like to say on behalf of the Westminster Kennel Club and its members?

Elizabeth Sweigart: I think much kudos should be given to the Westminster members and to the President and Show Chairman, Donald Sturz and David Helming. The massive effort to pull together such a fantastic event was amazing!


Are there specific ways in which this show furthers the cause of purebred dogs?

Elizabeth Sweigart: To see so many lovely dogs presented in such glorious surroundings is the best thing that can happen for purebred dogs. It makes people aware of the dedication of breeders to protect and preserve their breeds, many of which are ancient but declining.


Now that your assignment is complete, what does Westminster mean to you personally?

Elizabeth Sweigart: I have watched the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on TV since I was a little girl when it was on WPIX, a New York station. (I guess, local to New Yorkers at the time.) To be able to actually judge Best in Show there is obviously the highlight of my judging career. I have to thank everyone involved for making the show an unquestionable success!