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Insights from George Milutinovich – 2023 WKC Dog Show Non-Sporting Group Judge

George Milutinovich, 2023 WKC Dog Show Non-Sporting Group Judge, is pictured at the show standing besides a placquette that says "Pressure is a Privilege."


Interview with George Milutinovich – 2023 WKC Dog Show Non-Sporting Group Judge

Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Non-Sporting Group at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?

George Milutinovich: What a great question! The letter, dated October 27, 2022, begins: Dear Mr. Milutinovich, On behalf of the Westminster Kennel Club, it is our privilege to extend to you an invitation to judge at our 147th Annual Dog Show… The assignment is as follows…

My reaction to receiving this invitation could only be described as one of great honor and appreciation.


What does it mean to judge a Group at this historic show?

George Milutinovich: There is no greater honor for a dog show judge to receive than an invitation to judge at Westminster! It’s an enormous responsibility to live up to the long-standing values and traditions of the Westminster Kennel Club, which can never be taken lightly!


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

George Milutinovich: Westminster Kennel Club Dog show is the second-longest continuously held major sporting event in the US, behind the Kentucky Derby. It attracts the Best of the Best from around the world. There is no award more coveted than a Westminster Award!

It’s Mission Statement: “To celebrate the companionship of dogs while promoting responsible dog ownership and breed preservation.”

The club does this in spades. It certainly has earned its mantra, “WESTMINSTER… THERE’S ONLY ONE!”


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

George Milutinovich: At the Group judges pre-show meeting with Fox Sports, we were educated on the rewards and challenges of live TV broadcasting! At the end of this meeting, President Don Sturz addressed our group.

I am paraphrasing, but in essence, he said to walk out into the ring, look around, and take in all of the glory and pageantry that is Westminster! “Enjoy your Honor.” And that is exactly what I did!


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

George Milutinovich: Energy levels were at a heightened pitch. The level of excitement grew louder and stronger as I began my cut!

George Milutinovich


How challenging was this assignment? Can you share your selection process?

George Milutinovich: I have been judging dogs since 1999 and I can honestly say that this was the strongest Non-Sporting Group I have ever seen. The depth of quality went far beyond the eight dogs that made the cut!


Do you have a word or two about your Group winner? About the dogs that placed?

George Milutinovich: My Group winner… What else could possibly be said about this French Bulldog?

He exemplifies the Breed Standard and is a born showman! The handler/dog team is simply a joy to watch! As a side note, a well-known and respected French Bulldog breeder and mentor approached me after judging and said, “There are two things wrong with that Frenchie… I didn’t breed him and I don’t own him!” Quite an endorsement!

Second place to the gorgeous Standard Poodle with the magnificent silhouette and carriage to match!

Third to the lovely Bulldog bitch who showed her heart out, and fourth to the lovely Bichon Frise!

Congratulations to the owners, breeders, and handlers of these magnificent dogs!


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?

George Milutinovich: The entire Westminster Kennel Club membership consists of dedicated fanciers upholding the long-standing traditions of excellence. They are warm and welcoming, and their attention to detail in everything they do is unequaled. It has been my honor to meet many of them and their families!


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

George Milutinovich: Westminster showcases the many positive aspects of purebred dogs.

Conformation, Agility, Obedience, and other performance events are televised live for the entire world to see!


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

George Milutinovich: This Group assignment at Westminster was the greatest honor of my life in dogs! My wife, four married children, son-in-law, my sister, and my brother and sister-in-law all flew back to New York to witness my dream come true. I thank God for all of these blessings!