It turns out one of the stars of this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has a celebrity pedigree.
A Bracco Italiano named Lepshi, who won his breed’s debut at the event on Tuesday, happens to be co-owned by country music legend Tim McGraw. The “Something Like That” singer’s regal 6-year-old pooch beat out eight other Italian hunting dogs to score top honors in the category, as reported by the Associated Press.
Lepshi (pronounced leep-she) reportedly nailed the breed’s signature ground-covering trot in the ring to outshine his competitors. Ryan Wolfe, who handles the dog for McGraw and his fellow owners Kristi Libertore, Tony Libertore, and Jenell Tonini-Zanotto, said it was an “honor” to come first.
“He’s a wonderful ambassador for the breed,” the handler added.
McGraw is clearly a fan of the breed, too. The singer and his A-lister wife, Faith Hill, have welcomed a number of Bracco Italianos into their Nashville mega-mansion and showcased them on social media.
“So proud of Lepshi,” McGraw wrote on Instagram. “He’s always been a winner in our eyes!”
Lepshi wasn’t the only standout at the 147th annual show, though. Around 2,500 dogs from 210 breeds strutted their stuff at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City on May 8. Each breed produced a rightful winner and the top dogs were then separated into seven groups (hound, toy, non-sporting, herding, sporting, working, and terrier) to determine the overall champion.
A Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen (or PBGV) named Buddy Holly won the coveted Best in Show award. The shaggy six-year-old from Palm Springs was the first of his breed to score the contest’s top prize, as reported by Reuters. PBGVs were bred to track hares through the rugged terrain in the Vendée district of France, but the humble breed has now made it to the world stage.
“I never thought a PBGV would do this,” handler and co-owner Janice Hayes said after the win. “Buddy Holly is the epitome of a show dog. Nothing bothers him.”
Buddy Holly bested the six other finalists to take home what is considered the most prestigious dog show award in the U.S. This year’s Best in Show reserve (or runner-up) was a Pekingese named Rummie. The fluffy toy dog has the winning coat in our eyes, though.