The International Kennel Club of Chicago: Built on Tradition
The International Kennel Club of Chicago: To anyone who’s been around awhile, it’s one of the Big Ones, the ones you plan for, travel for, and wait for all year. It’s one filled with excitement, tradition, innovation, prestige and numbers.
The first dog show in America was held in Chicago in 1883—before there was even an American Kennel Club! It drew an entry of 21 dogs, all Pointers and Setters!
The Chicago Kennel Club was founded in 1900. The Union Stock Yard & Transit Company of Chicago purchased its charter in 1938. The name was changed to the International Kennel Club of Chicago—the only cub AKC allowed to use the word “International” in.
The new club’s show format was modeled after the prestigious International Live Stock Exposition, which was then the nation’s number 1 livestock shown and known for its focus on educational events, especially for young people. The IKC strove to emulate this with an emphasis on Junior Handling and Junior Dog Judging. The IKC’s first show, in 1938, drew an astounding entry of 1169 dogs.
While the conformation judging was the main event, the IKC devoted a huge part of its space to other aspects, including benching for 3000 dogs. It also featured a 50,000 square foot area in which to showcase indoor field trials, sighthound straight racing over a 200 yard track, weight pulling for Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, and scent hurdle racing (a precursor to flyball). Various canine celebrities such as Lassie and Ashley Whippet also made appearances. In addition, the IKC was one of the first shows to have vendors—and it had as many as 120 at a single show!
Of course, judges clamored to be on the panel, and IKC was able to feature some of the finest, including Mrs. Hartley Dodge of Morris & Essex fame, Alva Rosenberg, Percy Roberts, William Brainard, Harry Peters, Mrs. Robert Lindsay and Miss Laura Delano—some famous for their canine knowledge, and some as well for their society pedigree.
The show was originally held in Chicago’s International Amphitheatre in the Union Stockyards (at one time the largest exposition Center in the United States with 585,000 square feet), where it stayed until 1982.
In 1982 the club passed to the ownership of Louis Auslander, who initially co-owned it with Mrs. Gaylord Donnelly and later with his wife Seme Auslander. The show moved to Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center in 1983, where it remained until 2015.
At its peak, the IKC was the largest show in America, with entries of more than 3000 dogs and spectator attendance topping 60,000!
IKC is under new leadership and has plans to resurrect those great crowds, and maintain IKC’s long held position as the Midwest’s flagship dog show.
Our Principals & Team
Barb Madrigano and Julie Dunnweber
Junior Showmanship Chair
Our Board of Advisors
Vicki Seiler Cushman
Tara Martin Rowell
Frequently Asked Questions
Please contact us if you cannot find an answer to your question.
August 25-27, 2023 Show hours are 8 AM – 6 PM each day.
We are at the beautiful McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois
All dog lovers!! We provide affordable, family fun entertainment and education for dog lovers of all ages. We have special features and activities for children and lots of educational opportunities to learn more about dogs, training, caring for them and what you can do with your dog at home.
Unfortunately, no. Only dogs who are entered in the show are allowed to come.