A Westminster Dog Show Experience

by Madeline

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Dogs are considered man’s best friend. Their only purpose in life is to give undivided love and attention to their masters. This is why, after boasting about their dog’s capabilities, a group of men in 1877 decided to create a club which showcases their dog’s looks, and abilities. Thus the Westminster Breeding Association was born.  This club, named after a popular Manhattan hotel, started as a small group who would gather to tell tales of their shooting successes and their dog’s achievements. In the beginning it was just a kennel that raised Pointer dogs for hunting, but it soon grew one of the largest dog competition communities in the United States.

The association’s first major event was a dog show in Philadelphia, and the show was such a success that the members of the association decide to hold their own dog show to compare their dogs. The association is today dubbed “The Westminster Kennel Club. This club rapidly expanded into a worldwide pastime. Thousands gather together each year at the Madison Square Garden in New York City to watch this two day event, and hundreds of proud breeders and handlers flock to this show, eager to share their prized show dogs to the world.

This year the Westminster Dog show held their 137th national dog show competition. There were over 173 different breeds and over 2,500 dogs in attendance. Each breed has specific qualifications that it must meet, and a judge is assigned to certain breeds, and they have to study and familiarize themselves with these breeds, and then they are able to judge them. Most breeds have certain requirements regarding their height, weight, coat color, tail, ears, and facial structure. The judges also pay close attention to the dog’s temperament, how they interact with the other dogs, and their human handlers. This is essential for combining the best qualities for breeding.  These are high standards and only the crème de la crème get to compete for the highest title, “Best in Show”.

Before the show begins, spectators are allowed to go into the grooming/set up area, where breeders and handlers prepare their dogs for show. Definitely make sure to stop by the poodle station, to watch some amazing groomers in action! Also, remember to bring a camera. You’ll meet some pretty rare breeds, some of which are new to the Westminster this year. Including; the American English Coonhound, which can be seen competing in the hound group, the Cesky Terrier, of the Terrier group, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, of the Herding group, the Finnish Lapphund, also of the Herding Group,  the Norwegian Lundehund, or the “Puffin Dog”, in the Non-Sporting Group,  and last but not least, the Xoloitxcuintli, or the “Show-Low” dog, also in the Non-Sporting Group. Even though these dogs didn’t win big this year, the fact that they were newly reconized as breeds by the AKC has given them a lot of publicity!

This two day competition focuses on narrowing down the dogs and categorizing them in seven different groups based on their breed’s traits; Non-Sporting, Sporting, Terrier, Working, Toy, Hound, and herding groups. These groups are then further narrowed down into best of breed, and various other titles. Then, the top seven dogs compete for the title of Best In Show. This title is world renowned, and this year a four year old Pekingese, “Ch. Palacegarden Malachy” was given the title. 

Overall, the Westminster dog show is an event for old and young, both two legged and four legged. It is a great family event, and is also broadcasted on television on the CBS station. So for all dog lovers, this is a must see! The 2013 Westminster Dog Show is set to be held some time in February, so keep your eyes pealed for updated information!

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