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On Tuesday night, judges at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will crown one lucky pooch this year’s best in show. Bookies in Las Vegas—yes, they bet on dog shows, too—give a German Shepherd named Rumor 4-to-1 odds to win. But one pup that’s not likely on their radar, despite its steadily increasing popularity since the 1940s, is another German breed, the Weimaraner—which will be judged on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
When LIFE published a photo essay on the breed in 1950, there were 1,500 Weimaraners in the U.S., all owned by members of the Weimaraner Club of America. The club tightly controlled breeding to ensure that each generation retained the best of the breed’s characteristics: namely, a distinctly friendly and loyal personality and a solid record as a hunting companion.
Despite its good looks and nature, the breed has never been named best in show. The year these photographs were published, that honor went to a Scottish Terrier named Walsing Winning Trick of Edgerstoune.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.