Now in its 141st year, the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is the second-longest continuously running sporting event in the United States after the Kentucky Derby.
“So we’re here today at the 141st annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show and we have nearly 2,800 dogs entered in the show this year from 49 states and 16 other countries,” said Westminster spokeswoman Gail Miller Bisher.
Three new breeds just added to the Westminster Kennel Club’s registry are the Pumi, the Sloughi and the American Hairless Terrier.
“They’re actually not new breeds, they’re just new to the US and so we have the Pumi, which is a Hungarian herding dog that will be in the herding group and it’s historical for that breed because whoever wins Best of Breed today will be the first Pumi to be at the Garden at Westminster, so it’s a big deal,” Bisher said. “And then we also have the Sloughi, which is an ancient African sighthound hunting dog.”
Five-and-a-half-year-old Toby the Sloughi has been the No. 1 Sloughi in the country since 2014, according to his owner, Erika Wyatt. He’s a two-time speciality winner and was the Best of Breed Sloughi at the AKC (American Kennel Club) National Championship in Orlando in December.
“This is a breed that is naturally very aloof, they’re not bred to be extremely outgoing or gregarious, and so they are naturally reserved around strangers,” said Wyatt. “And plus, Toby lives in the country, we live on 12 acres at home and we travelled here and he can’t believe there’s so little grass in New York City.”
Nancy Nelson travelled with Zsa Zsa, her 5-year-old Pumi from Norwalk, Connecticut.
“We’d like to say they’re really cute. So we say they’re Curious, Unique, Tenacious and Energetic,” Nelson said. “So Zsa Zsa lives up to her name. She’s very enamoured of Ms Gabor and misses her very much. She loves to shop. She likes to get out and about. And her favourite street in New York is 47th street where all the jewellery vendors are.”
Nearly 200 breeds and varieties were eligible for this year’s Westminster competition. After judges select the best of each breed, the top dogs go to the main event at Madison Square Garden where they are narrowed down to best of each group: hound, toy, non-sporting, herding, sporting, working or terrier, which go on to compete for the “Best In Show” title. – Reuters