Banana Joe Affenpinscher Wins Best in Show at Westminster Dog Show


Their full names are a little on the haughty side: Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot, Foxcliffe Hickory Wind, and Palacegarden Malachy. Each dog won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show from 2009 to 2011. When not on full display in front of thousands at Madison Square Garden, they go by the more modest, (yet still a little uppity,) names of Sadie, Hickory, and Malachy respectively.

Then there’s Banana Joe Van Tani Kazari. More commonly known as Banana Joe, the affenpinscher, took top honors at Tuesday’s 137th Westminster Dog Show with one of the more unique names in recent Best in Show history. The toy dog bounced and wagged his way to a surprise victory, leading to headlines and one liners about “monkeying around” and Banana Joe’s “monkey-like face” being the key to victory. Without taking advantage of the great pun possibilities, let’s examine Banana Joe like an ape would a plantain. 

Banana Joe was the first affenpinscher to win Best in Show at Westminster. An affenpinscher is a toy dog, a category that engulfs most of the smaller breeds like spaniels and pinschers. They usually range in size from six to 13 pounds and stand nine to 12 inches tall. Banana Joe has a monkey like face and is covered by a poof of black hair with black, beady eyes, a black, button nose, and a pink tongue that sticks out as his poofy, pointy tail wags behind him.

His charisma seemed to be the deciding factor over the crowd favorite who drew the most cheers from the restrained Madison Square Garden crowd, Swagger, an old English sheepdog. When announced as winner, Banana Joe’s handler, Ernesto Lara, hoisted the 5-year-old in the air as the joyous dog wagged his tail and stuck out his pink tongue.

This year’s show saw 2,721 dogs in competition at what is known as the Super Bowl of dog shows. The competition was whittled down to seven as the winners in categories like the Sporting Group, the Working Group, and Hound Group made their way to the final seven. It was there, that Banana Joe prevailed over Swagger, a German wirehaired pointer, an American foxhound, a Portuguese water dog, a bichon frise, and a smooth fox terrier.

On top of his charm, Banana Joe might have had an advantage over the six dogs on display with him in the final judging: he speaks four languages. (Yes, that sentence is true.) Co-owner and breeder Mieke Cooijmans told reporters, “[Banana Joe] speaks German, Dutch, Spanish, and English.” 

So, to Banana Joe: “Glückwünsche,” “Gefeliciteerd,” “¡Felicidades!” and “Congratulations!”

For your enjoyment, here are a few of the other competitors from Tuesday's Westminster Dog Show ...

Swagger the old English sheepdog:

Oakley the German wirehaired pointer:

Honor the bichon frise: