Updated: Aug 18, 2021
The Minneapolis Kennel Club (MKC) was incorporated in the state of Minnesota in 1933 and held its first benched dog show in April 1934 at the old Minneapolis Auditorium. The show catalog was 50 cents and it took two days and three judges to judge the entry of 442 dogs. There were two rings and the judging times both days were 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. with the groups starting at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday evening. There was a trained dog exhibit (obedience)_ both days at 7:00 p.m. It was truly a full weekend affair! Notable entries were 71 Cocker Spaniels, 25 Collies, 29 Wire Fox Terriers, 29 Pekes, 25 Boston Terriers and 24 Bulldogs. The Sporting Group was the most popular with an overall entry of 166 and the Hound Group lagged far behind with a total entry of 10. Few of the dogs entered had either a champion sire or dam. In general, first prize for the classes was $1.00.
Maurice Baker, a founding member of the MKC, was the bench show chairman for many years and was the only all-breed AKC judge who has been a member of the Minneapolis Kennel Club. Many of the present day members knew Maurice well as he judged into his eighties, passing away in the mid-1980s. Sarah Weld, a current club member, is a grand-niece of Maurice.
A second show in 1934 was held at the Polo Grounds at Ft. Snelling and the 1936 show was held at the Hippodrome at the State Fair grounds. At that show, there was an entry of 197 dogs in 36 breeds. Obedience was offered for the first time at the 1939 show. In 1941 the show was held over a two-day period at the parade grounds during the Minneapolis Aquatennial and a picture of an Aquatennial float was featured on the cover of the catalog. First place prizes were now up to $2.00 and when the entry was 5 or more in the breed, the prize was $5.00.
Highlight of the 1947 show was the presence of Rin Tin Tin III, grandson of the famous movie dog. Rin Tin Tin served as a K9 soldier during World War II and he and his master stayed at the Radisson Hotel. He was on exhibit twice a day and the Minneapolis newspaper gave him, and the show, an excellent write up. Up to 1947, this was the largest show held in Minneapolis within entry of 633 dogs. Again, the show was held over two days. The Maltese was entered for the first time and this was also noted in another article in the newspaper.
In 1949 there were 56 breeds on display at the show and entries had now reached 800. By 1955, a Parade of Champions had been added and the catalog cost was increased to $1.00.
The 1950 show was once again back at the old Minneapolis Auditorium and entries had expanded to 568 dogs, with 44 Golden Retrievers, 54 Boxers. The Hound Group had finally grown to 65 dogs.
By 1955, the show still covered a two-day period but opening judging time had been moved up to 9:00 a.m. with Best in Show taking place at 10:15 p.m. on Sunday night. An added attraction, noted in the catalog, was a dinner dance, open to all, held at the Calhoun Beach Hotel … dinner, dancing and cocktails for $3.50 a person. Somewhere after this date, the two-day show was discontinued and all dogs were judged on one day.
Shows started changing rapidly after 1955 and by 1970 MKC had an entry of almost 1200 dogs. The Hound Group finally came into its own with an Afghan entry of 45. 107 dogs were now in Obedience and, although Junior Showmanship was offered, there were no entries.
In 1981, MKC started giving two shows a year and by 1984 the six groups of dogs had been expanded by the American Kennel Club to seven groups with the division of working and herding. Entries were around 1400 to 1500 and, to this day, that remains the size of our shows.
By now, MKC was one of six clubs in the country who were still offering a benched show. Those who have been showing for decades remember the camaraderie of these shows with exhibitors having a chance to visit, exchange pedigrees, bring food for lunches and compete for the best-decorated bench for individual or breed club. Although the benching day was long -- 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – it was a wonderful opportunity to meet people and to acquaint the general public with specific breeds. In addition, everyone had the chance to watch the judging of other breeds rather than hurrying home after showing. MKC held its last benched show in 1987, due to the demise of the superintendent and the high cost of bringing in a superintendent and equipment from the East Coast. 1987 was also the last year for our spectacular trophy table which required the work of many individuals. The AKC Gazette did a three-page write-up of MKC’s last benched show. It was a rather sad occasion for many of the club’s long-time members.
In 1991 the catalog cover said "Twins Win!" to honor the World Series. In 1995 the AKC permitted us to offer two back to back shows (rather than one show each in the winter and fall). In 1998 the Minneapolis Kennel Club shows featured Meet the Breeds, an opportunity for the public to observe selected breeds and converse with owners and breeders.
Finances over the years paint an interesting portrait. Revenue for 1965 was $7200 and expenses were $6300. There was an annual picnic in 1965 and the roster cost us $5.00 to publish. Memorials were $10 whereas now they have increased to $50. In 1966, the Club started the Minneapolis Kennel Club Scholarship Fund at the University of Minnesota with a donation of $3,000.00. This endowment has now reached $85,000.00 and each year several students in small animal husbandry receive a scholarship from the fund. In 1965, and for several years, the Club also held a dinner dance at the Edina Country Club at a cost of $665. The Club has now donated over $150,000 to various funds and projects at the University of Minnesota, Hennepin County Humane Society, American Kennel Club Dog Museum, Canine Defense Fund as well as many other organizations who function for the betterment of the dog. To round off the finances, the show that cost $5500 in 1955 now costs $40,000 and receipts have increased from $7200 to $60,000.
In 1997 the MKC started holding Chipping Clinics, annually allowing a significant number of dogs to be identified by microchip, in addition to annual educational seminars, bimonthly training classes and annual puppy matches.
In its history, the Minneapolis Kennel Club has made a significant contribution to the local purebred dog community, creating friendships and good times in the process. May the prosperity and success of the Club and its members increase, and may the MKC’s shows remain jewels in the dog show scene.