Pedigree, sad dogs lose at Westminster

You know those pet adoption ads that tug at the heartstrings with those sad looking pooches cowering behind cages?

Well, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which held its finale Tuesday with its “Best of Show” winner, wasn’t having any of it – or them.

After 24 years as the premier kennel show’s chief sponsor, Pedigree was replaced this year because the WKC said the dog food company had taken the wrong approach to promoting pet adoptions by showing shelter dogs with sad faces.

“Show me an ad with a dog with a smile. Don’t try to shame me,” show spokesman David Frei told the Associated Press. “We told [Pedigree] that and they ignored us.”

Frei said the show is a “celebration of dogs. We’re not promoting purebreds at the expense of non-purebreds. We celebrate all dogs. When we’re seeing puppies behind bars, it takes away from that. Not just because it’s sad, but it’s not our message.”

Frei earlier told AP concerning the Pedigree ads, “The feedback we got from our primary audience was that they were seeing commercials that made them want to turn the channel.”

Pedigree was replaced with Nestle Purina PetCare. Pedigree said it was “surprised and disappointed” it ended up in the doghouse.

More than 2,000 dogs are entered in the 136th Westminster show, representing 185 breeds.  Coverage was shared by the USA Network and CNBC. If you want to see the latest photos from the show click here and here.

Update: A Pekingese won ‘Best in Show’ Tuesday night in New York. Malachy beat a Dalmatian, a German Shepherd, and four other breeds.

59 comments Add your comment

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[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

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[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]


February 14th, 2012
2:50 pm

That’s because the AKC wants to protect its financial interests by pretending that there’s no such thing as abandoned or abused dogs…

Personally, I think the AKC should be outlawed.


February 14th, 2012
3:09 pm

Very disappointed with them for this. True, the Westminister is a celebration and high ritual for the love of dogs but there’s the flip side, that the majority of dogs out there don’t have the pampered existence of the few pups who make it to the green carpeting of Madison Square Garden.
For all of their talk about working for the pet community and responsible pet ownership, you’d think they’d have thicker skins about ads that mention the less fortunate canines out there. In their defense, Pedigree did show happier commercials, not all were sad stories but the “let them eat cake” attitude is a little delusional in this day and age when people are abandoning pets left and right due to economic stress.
I miss Roger Karras who would flat out say during the show that sure, you can go out and get that purebed that you’ve always wanted but also go to the shelter and find a good companion mutt who also deserves a good home. He always got a round of applause for it too.


February 14th, 2012
3:59 pm

What WKC does to “manufacture” these purebreed dogs is a sin. They are a commodity and are discarded when no longer a money maker. Give me a shelter dog any day!

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]


February 14th, 2012
6:23 pm

“Show me an ad with a dog with a smile.”

Yeah, let’s suspend reality and make believe all dogs are smiley happy. Oh brother.

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Harman Singh

February 14th, 2012
10:19 pm


Those commercials were spreading a good and honest message and they help save many, many lives of cats and dogs everywhere. They help them find homes instead of being killed.

The people who change the channel usually turn it right back, at least from what I’ve seen from my friends and family.

This is greed.

Kent Brockman

February 14th, 2012
11:14 pm

I guess you could say…. this barely qualifies as news.


February 14th, 2012
11:36 pm “Echo gets adopted” Pedigree commercial where Echo says “I dont know how I ended up in here, but I’ll never forget the day I got out” and shows him romping in his new home….not sad


February 14th, 2012
11:39 pm

It ALL comes down to breeders wanting to breed more and more…and who are these resgitries (AKC CKC UKC) for? Breeders. Maybe due to the economy, and people getting better about adopting pets, its cut into the pockets of breeders. Yes, GOOD breeders make no money at it, but the kennel clubs also play host to thousands of backyard breeders.

E. Vieuxtemps

February 14th, 2012
11:50 pm

Scary thing is they treat people pretty much the same way. The 99% need not apply and in my humble opinion, mutts make the best pets. Give me my shelter pet over a unnaturally shaved standard poodle any day. If you knew how many breeds are groomed you’d be horrified. Pedigree should have dumped the AKC.

Kneel Borezt

February 15th, 2012
12:22 am

I have a purebred & 2 rescue dogs. I’m going to watch the show no matter what dog food brand sponsors it.


February 15th, 2012
2:00 am

Disappointed Pedigree wasn’t the sponsor, too. They do so much for shelter dogs all year long. Shame on David Frei and WKC. Also, extremely disappointed in the winner of the show this year. No way the Peke was in better form, for its breed, that the German Shepherd, Dalmation or Dobie. The Kerry Blue and the Irish Setter were wonderful reps for their breeds, too.


February 15th, 2012
6:17 am

I wonder if this is not the real reason. I wonder if the big dogs (pardon the pun) at WKC were mad the pedigree stopped throwing $ away on the big dinner during show week…it was the “must attend” event, and they stopped doing it last year as it was a huge expense for Pedigree. I wonder if the new sponsor was willing to “put on the dog.” Just some things that make you stop and go, “hmmmmmmmmm??”


February 15th, 2012
8:19 am

I have 9 indoor dogs and every single one was from the pound or from someone who couldn’t keep them. While I think the WKC should keep Pedigree I also agree about the comercials. I turn the channel everytime one comes on. My husband does also. If we don’t my 6 year old daughter starts to cry. I don’t think showing such comercials will change peoples minds. Either they have sympathy and want to help or they just don’t care and no amount of sad comercials will help. They don’t have to be happy go lucky but turn down the sad meter a bit.


February 15th, 2012
8:20 am

In all reality, the Westminster Dog Show is nothing more than another political event. Who in the world could honestly say that an ugly Peke was the best representation of a particular breed. The judges always make the safe choice – never chosing an exotic or rare breed. It boils down to who has the most money and influence and nothing to do with standards or ethics.

Road Scholar

February 15th, 2012
8:33 am

Reality is a bitch ain’t it! Wanting to change the channel because of the dogs in cages…why don’t you go to a rescue and contribute your time by getting them a home!


February 15th, 2012
8:34 am

The Doberman should have grabbed the Peek, shook it, and threw it up in the crowd after it won.


February 15th, 2012
8:37 am


Sort of reminds me of The Masters. Basically if you want to be a part of our event you WILL listen to us and do as you’re told. We do not need you, you NEED us. Now, sit down an shutup.


February 15th, 2012
8:37 am

As a true dog lover, I am guilty of switching the channel because I can’t bear to watch the sad commercials. I am not saying Pedigree is guilty of this, but instead of trying to guilt people into adopting dogs, I think the commercials should be more informative and spread messages about responsible pet ownership and adopting from shelters. Show me the success stories and the facts, not sad and abused dogs. I know they are out there and we have several rescues of our own. I have knock down drag out fights with family members who want to buy from breeders “just because” but please don’t make me watch sad commercials.

Roy M

February 15th, 2012
8:39 am

Yes, some of the Pedigree adds were pitiful. But how else to get peoples awareness regarding this mass execution of mans best friend? A happy dog in a cage?? I have adopted strays and shelter dogs and they are the best. uh, maybe ’cause there’s no money in shelter dogs is why the AKC dumped Pedigree????


February 15th, 2012
8:55 am

I support Pedigree. The akc show refuses to acknowledge that breeding became easy money and IS responsible for millions animals being unwanted and put to death. That is the facts.

Foolish hubris is all it is. Snobbery with the resulting death warrants.

Cities, counties should make tighter restrictions on animal ownership, this cost taxpayers millions to dispose of the by-product of this selfish group and it’s “exclusive” mentality. Given the obvious greed and small minded snobbery, I am glad to support Pedigree, which ought consider changing its name.

Shelter dogs are usually a mix and have far better health and personalities than in-bred breeds. After some study into my latest dogs (part) heritage, and knowing as we do the dangers of inbreeding, I was utterly shocked to read about their practices. No wonder most have MAJOR health problems.

AKC your time I hope is drawing to a close with the thousands of irresponsible people who procreate misery. shame on you all. There is o longer such a thing as a responsible breeder when the America taxpayer has to pay for their ways to the tune of millions and millions of dollars every year to clean up their mess. Who else has a hobby that gets to pass off the ultimate cost to the taxpayer?

Yeah, AKC, turn your head away from YOUR responsibility.


February 15th, 2012
8:59 am

We should not be supporting the Westminster Kennel Club or any other club that supports breeders. There is no need for breeders when there are thousands of dogs that have no homes. These clubs support breeding at the expense of other dogs.


February 15th, 2012
9:08 am

So many adoptable pets out there. And ppl should have to a pay a huge licensing fee to breed, or huge fine if they breed without a license. This overpopulation of cats and dogs needs to end, but holding ppl responsible is the only way. And bring down spay/neuter fees.

As for that Pedigree commercial..its has been one of my favs on tv. Two thumbs down on WKC.


February 15th, 2012
9:09 am

The fact is..there are no happy dogs/cats in a shelter….why fake it WKC?

the guy

February 15th, 2012
9:34 am

I hate the sad dog ads. We’ve adopted 3 pound-bound dogs, and the jerks that run those ads still make my wife and I feel like we’re not doing enough.


February 15th, 2012
9:42 am

I agree with AKC… Happy people spend much more money than sad people, so why try to convince an audience to rescue a dog after crying at a commercial? Guilt doesn’t entice nearly as many people as happiness. Show happy, cute and playful dogs and then see how many more people make the decision to adopt a new friend.

**And if you only have 1 dog now, get him/her a friend! Having two dogs is so much better than one! (and easier on you)

A.B. Normal

February 15th, 2012
9:55 am

A bull mastiff always appears to smile (or at least grin) right before ha clamps down on a human limb. Want to make a commercial out of that?

I love Weimaraners

February 15th, 2012
9:59 am

I don’t like these commercials either. I have 2 pure bred Weimaraners and they have been the best dogs ever! that said, we take in every stray that comes to our house. when i was looking for a new dog, it was cheaper to buy from a breeder, than it was to “adopt” from an animal shelter. Don’t bash all owners who have pure bred dogs. I also had a schipperke that we had 3 generations of puppies from. Not one of these ended up in a shelter. Just as with kids, there are good parents and bad. My babies are just that, my babies. they are treated like kids. I would go without to make sure they are taking care of.

#occupy my desk...

February 15th, 2012
10:05 am

Oh Emma – liberal harebrain… How would outlawing AKC help shelter pets? If anything they encourage dog ownership and breed education. I have a Doberman and 2 Dachshunds – all rescues – so I fail to grasp your point. Bottom line is that this is their event and they can set decorum as they see fit. I am exhausted listening to people like you complain nonstop – it is just so tiring. Ban this! Regulate that! End this! 1,000,000 people against X! 1,000,000 people for Z! Stomp out Y! Do you even know anymore?


February 15th, 2012
10:17 am

Wow. They should be ashamed of themselves. The problem of pet overpopulation and euthanasia is a big one. Guess what, AKC? There are TONS of pure breeds in shelters. People don’t just abandon mutts. I volunteer for a local rescue group and we pull pure breeds from animal controls and kill shelters on a regular basis. And guess what, AKC? Shelter dogs love just as much (I’d like to think even more) as your expensive show dog. I like watching the AKC shows for the variety of dogs, but the whole thing is lame and needs to go away.


February 15th, 2012
10:23 am

And I agree with Patriciamw62’s comment on how ads should be more educational about spay/neuter and responsible pet ownership. The ads make me really sad as well. The one that makes me change the channel, though, is the ASPCA ad with Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” playing in the background. Sometimes I just don’t feel like crying, okay?


February 15th, 2012
10:32 am

I was disappointed with the AKC’s decision, because I have ALWAYS loved the Pedigree commercials. Yes, some of the commercials tugged at the heartstrings — yeah! They WORKED. Pedigree has done an amazing job in raising awareness of the option of adopting a pet from the orphanage. I wonder at what kind of feedback AKC is going to get on this. Purina is a fine company who also does a lot to support pet adoption, but they certainly don’t have the visibility in this area that Pedigree does.

My favorite Pedigree commercial was a few years ago about Echo — a shelter dog commercial with the theme of “don’t know why I’m here . . .” with a lovely dog with eager, hopeful eyes, and the subsequent follow-up showing a happy, rollicking Echo having been adopted. That commercial has stayed with me — and I don’t remember a single Purina commercial.

Big Al

February 15th, 2012
10:44 am

I tried to watch the Westminster Dog Show but my cat made me switch the channel.

Bubba Grump

February 15th, 2012
10:47 am

I turn the channel as soon as one of those commecials comes on so I think the WKC was right. Why would you want ads that cause folks to stop watching??


February 15th, 2012
10:51 am

I think the real problem is too many dog owners. If we could just spay and neuter humans that would solve the problem!

Dogs Rule

February 15th, 2012
11:26 am

I own a beautiful purebred dog too- but she is a rescue from a horrific puppy mill where she was caged most of her life being bred (raped) repeatedly. The poor thing was so undersocialized and terrified of everything. Its heartbreaking to see how broken this little girl is because of neglect, abuse and the social demand for purebred dogs. It’s taken a year and a half of patience and working with her to get her to somewhat trust me and learn how to be a dog and how to play. She still has a LONG way to go. So I 100% support Pedigree, adopting rescues, banning puppy mills, and shame on Westminister!

Peggy Wilson

February 15th, 2012
11:56 am

I agree with WKC.. Everytime the commercial comes on with Sarah M. singing the song I have to turn it over or if I am not in the room and hear it I have my husband turn it over. Way to tug at the heart..Adoption is not about sadness, it is about giving a dog or cat another chance at a better , loving life..I dont have a problem adopting from shelters or rescue dogs, they just need to go about the ocmmercial differently. I donate to ASPCA every month for abused and neglected animals (cats & dogs.). Pedigree or a mutt, they all do not need abused. I have a Llasa Apsa dog that is a puribred.. Very dominate animal and subborn, but patience pays in the end. Love my pets…


February 15th, 2012
12:42 pm

More than 25% of dogs at shelters are purebred. All of our dogs have been rescues, some purebred some not. You can find any breed you want. Puppy mills are 80% of AKC business. In 2003 alone it registered 917,247 puppies at $25 per pup. In their website I could only found information on how to write your congressman to object to the term puppy mill which they find offensive. I find the AKC offensive.

H Smith

February 15th, 2012
12:50 pm

As an experienced volunteer at the Humane Society, putting the true issue in peoples faces DOES help. It raises awareness. It cut’s through all of the sugar coating. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is true. Anyone that needs to turn the channel when these commercials come on need to get their head out of the sand. The purpose of these commercials is to raise awareness, to get under your skin, to get you angry, perhaps even cause you to want to help. When everything is sugar coated, it’s too easy to walk away with nary a thought.

Frankie McDonald

February 15th, 2012
1:52 pm

All my 5 of my dogs during my lifetime have been rescues, including my current big 2 year-old goofball. I also love the WKC shows. I think WKC does a lot toward preserving historic breeds; kind of history on four legs. I’m sorry Pedigree didn’t get to present commercials to promote adoptions, but I’m sorry they don’t balance the message by showing the positive, responsible side of pet ownership instead of dwelling on the misery. It’s like the starving children charity ads; I can’t save the world and I’m not going to be guilted into trying. My dogs are family and I never took one on without knowing it was a lifetime commitment. That’s the message that needs to get out. It’s a commitment to every one you breed, every one you buy, every one you adopt. Be a responsible pet owner and enjoy your companion as you grow together; that’s the message they should be sending.


February 15th, 2012
2:35 pm

I have to agree, I am tired of seeing those sad commercials with dogs looking pitiful and abused and needing medical attention. I don’t know if those are Pedigree commercials or SPCA commercials, in my area it’s usually a celebrity singing a sad song and holding a sad looking dog asking for your help. I don’t know about the WKC or if they are trying to get people to buy from breeders, I never have nor ever will, I always adopt, so that doesn’t influence me at all.


February 15th, 2012
2:43 pm

Then heaven forbid let’s not remind people of the THOUSANDS of terrified, abused and abandoned dogs that are put to death in shelters every year. DO NOT BRED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER ANIMALS DIE! And no – I’m not a PETA nut, just an animal lover who believes in being part of the solution, not the problem.

Jon from Va-Hi

February 15th, 2012
2:49 pm

This is an incredibly misguided decision. These rescue groups do more for dogs in one day than the AKC has done in its entire history.


February 15th, 2012
3:13 pm

I breed and show my dogs and am proud of it. I will not be guilted into not watching a dog show or attending a dog show if I want. I also have been very involved in breed rescue over the years and those of you who want to quote figures…..if 25% of all shelter dogs are pure bred then doesnt that mean there are 75% that are not. 3 times the amount of mixed breeds in shelters than pure bred dogs. Anyone who produces a puppy whether by choice or accident is a breeder so dont go finger pointing at us who choose to show our dogs and research pedigrees before we breed. Look on craigs list and see all the pure bred and mixed breed puppies being produced by not the responsible show breeders but by the people who buy a dog and figure they want to make their money back by breeding it to whatever dog they can find and once the pup leaves their home they suddenly get amnesia. We who show and breed our dogs have extensive contracts to stop any of our dogs being indiscriminately bred by anyone and to ensure they always have a home with us no matter what if their owners want to give them up.


February 15th, 2012
4:15 pm

I hate that commerical and am one of those to “tune out” while it runs, not because I choose to avoid reality, but because it’s hurtful for me to watch all those animals and not go scoop them up. I have dogs, Schnauzers, and even though they are purebred, I have had many a shelter dog in the past. I think it was a wise move on Westminster’s part to remove this negative publicity.