A contestant poses for a photo at a 1916 dog show. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

“Shamus O’Brien”, an Irish Wolfhound owned by Lt. Col. Francis A. Junkin, and “Cortez”, a Mexican Chihuahua, owned by A. Radcliffe, pose for a photo at the 7th annual Dog Show of the Washington Kennel Club on May 8, 1920. (National Photo Company Collection/Library of Congress)

St. Bernards wait in their crates at a dog show in 1908. (Bain News Service/Library of Congress)

Dog shows are famous for their spirit, their spunk and, as satirized in Christopher Guest’s 2000 film “Best in Show,” their cult following. That following — visible in these delightful frames — shows a devotion that predates the invention of the lightbulb, woman’s suffrage and the World Series.

Dog shows, which originally started as side attractions to cattle shows in England in the 1850s, quickly crisscrossed the globe to become competitions worthy of their own fanfare and personality.

Last week, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show had its 141st annual show in New York, making it second only to the Kentucky Derby as the longest continuously held sporting event in America. The show’s appeal spread nationally, and it is now part of a large network of local and regional shows. The Kennel Club of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania started the National Dog Show just a few years later in 1879, and the American Kennel Club/Eukanuba National Championship, which started in 2001, has since become the largest show in the country. In December 2016, 4,710 dogs competed for the title of national champion.

From dalmatians to Russian wolf hounds, much has changed since the canines in these Library of Congress images had their 15 minutes of fame, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still enjoyable to bask in their glory.

 


A contestant poses for a photo at a 1915 dog show. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

Another 1915 dog show contestant. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

A 1915 dog show contestant. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

A 1915 dog show contestant. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

A 1915 dog show contestant. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

A 1915 dog show contestant. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

Owners pose with the largest and smallest dogs at a dog show on Jan. 26,1923. (National Photo Company/Library of Congress)

A contestant poses at a 1916 dog show. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

Marion C. Bourne poses with Michael Strogoff, the best American-bred Russian wolf hound in the Mineola dog show in 1908. (Bain News Service/Library of Congress)

A contestant poses at a 1915 dog show. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

More contestants at a 1915 dog show. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

Walter Johnstone, son of Mr. and Mrs. R.H. Johnstone of D.C., poses with Shamus O’Brien, an Irish wolf hound belonging to Col. Francis A. Junkin, at the 7th dog show of the Washington Kennel Club on May 8, 1920. (National Photo Company Collection/Library of Congress)

A contestant at a dog show between 1910 and 1920. (Bain Collection/Library of Congress)

Dalmatians wait in their crates at a dog show in the early 1900s. (Bain Collection/Library of Congress)