By Rachel Crocetti
Updated Nov 23, 2017 @ 2:00 pm
National Dog Show Winner
Credit: Steve Donahue; See Spot Run Photography

For most, Thanksgiving is an annual day to celebrate being around family and friends and to show gratitude for all of the wonderful things in their lives. But for one lucky dog, there is a whole lot more to be thankful for this year.

Every year, following the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC, the National Dog Show, presented by Purina, airs, and the country's top dogs take to the ring to show off their stuff. Hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, the show has been an annual event for 16 years, cementing itself as an official can't-miss Thanksgiving tradition.

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Last year's grand champion was none other than Gia the Greyhound, the long-legged hound who trotted her way into the hearts of the judges. Winning Best in Show is not easy, as the dogs have to spend a full day preparing for different levels of competition. First is best in breed, where the dogs compete with others who seem to look exactly like them. The dog that best exemplifies what is known as the breed standard, based on bone structure, shape, movement, temperament, and condition moves on the the group competition.

National Dog Show Winner - Embed - 2
Credit: Steve Donahue; See Spot Run Photography

There are seven groups in the second round—sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, and herding. When a dog is selected from each of those groups, the top seven dogs compete in Best in Show, where a Grand Champion is crowned.

This year, the big champion came in a tiny package. Newton the Brussels Griffon, handled by Susan DePew and owned by Keith Jacobson, came out on top after winning his breed and the toy group and taking home a trophy significantly heavier than he is.

National Dog Show Winner - Embed - 1
Credit: Steve Donahue; See Spot Run Photography

Brussels Griffons are best known for their bearded snouts and almost human-like expressions. Energetic terrier-like toy dogs, they respond well to training and therefore pick up clever tricks rather easily. Newton was deemed the absolute best of the best of his breed standard, and the adorable, little pup trotted his tiny legs to victory.

National Dog Show Winner - Embed - 3
Credit: Steve Donahue; See Spot Run Photography

This year, Andy Cohen and his dog Wacha teamed up with Purina to raise money in support of hurricane victims and their pets through the #DogThanking campaign. Millions of people and pets suffered when natural disasters struck Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico this year. Cohen and the people at pets at Purina are encouraging pet owners to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share what makes their pet the best by using the hashtag #DogThanking and tagging @Purina. For every unique post submitted between Nov. 16 and 26, Purina will donate $1 to hurricane relief efforts.

“Pets truly enrich and awaken our hearts in many different ways, so it’s important to celebrate what makes each one the best,” said Cohen.

Other best-in-group winners include Noah the Portuguese Water Dog from the working group, Anna the Whippet from the hound group, Timmy the English Springer Spaniel from the sporting group, Louie the American Staffordshire Terrier from the terrier group, Babe the French Bulldog from the non-sporting group, and Sophia the Old English Sheepdog from the herding group.

We all have a lot to be thankful for this year, and our pets are definitely on the list. But Newton the Brussels Griffon could perhaps have the most to be thankful for. Hopefully the celebration includes lots of cuddles and treats.