fox terrier

Photo compliments of Westminster Kennel Club

This weekend a 130-year-old tradition is drawing dog lovers from across the country to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show here in New York City. The event begins on Saturday, Feb. 11th and culminates to an end on Tues. the 14th, with the Best in Show event.  The dog show is one of N.Y.C s oldest and most prestigious annual dog competitions which features almost 3,000 purebred dogs; judged by Westminster’s strict standards of each individual breed – Upholding the club’s absolute tradition of perfection in the winning canine contestants. There are seven different types of breeds allowed: Hound, sporting, non-sporting, herding, working, terrier, and toy.  Breed rounds will be located at Piers 92 and 94. Madison Square Gardens will once again host the Group Rounds and the Best in Show.

The Westminster Kennel Club’s History

1887 was the year of several historic inventions. The first initial Radar was introduced by German inventor Heinrich Hertz, barbed wire was patented, and believe it or not, the first pair of wearable contact lenses was invented. An iconic New York tradition was also invented that year at 16th St & Irving PL.

The original Westminster Kennel Club members held their first competition of hunting dogs at Gillmor’s Gardens in 1887, future home of Madison Square Gardens; giving out guns and a pair of pearl handled pistols as prizes. Not too long after that first bar gathering of hunters at the ritzy Westminster Hotel, the Westminster Kennel Club was officially formed.

The Westminster Kennel Club was also the first dog club to join up with the American Kennel Club, founded in 1884. Both organizations have obviously grown substantially since the late 1900’s. So-much-so for the Westminster Kennel Club that it had to eventually put a cap on its allowed entrants, and then move the event to the Madison Square Gardens for its top competition, just in order to accommodate all of its avidly growing fans.

Westminster Kennel Club Facts

  • The WKC dog show started being nationally televised in 1948; it has since been regularly broadcasted on other major stations like the USA Network, NBC, and the Fox Network.
  • The only sporting event to prequel the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the also hugely popular Kentucky Derby.
  • The first hunting dog show in Gilmore’s Gardens donated a portion of its WKC proceeds to the recently emerging at the time, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; the money was earmarked by the ASPCA for the first stray and disabled animal shelter in New York City.
  • Westminster Judges don’t always favor just looks; the main scrutiny is normally based on a dog’s innate ability to perform its originally bred function. IE: Hunting, tracking, herding, etc.
  • Dogs that are competing in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show must be registered with the American Kennel Club. This rule has been in effect since 1884.
  • The Terrier breed is the most popular winners of “Best in Show”, having been awarded 45 wins out of 103. Slightly lower odds than flipping a coin.
  • The oldest dog to win so far was a Sussex Spaniel in 2009, which was 10 years of age. The youngest winner was a 9-month-old Rough Collie in 1929.

Tickets

Tickets are available for $35.00 at the door for adults and $20.00 for children. Tickets increase to $40.00 for general admission to up to $65.00 for reserved seating for the main event of Best in Show. A Tuesday pass valid for the 14th allows unlimited access to both the pier activities and Madison Square Garden’s main event, at $75.00 for general seating and $100.00 for reserved.

Schedule

  • February 11th – Masters Agility competition from 8 am to 4 pm. Meet the Breeds from 10 am to 5 pm. Agility champion finals from 7 pm to 9 pm at pier 92 and 94.
  • February 13th – Masters obedience championship: 8 am to 4 pm at pier 94.
  • February 13th to 14th – 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, 8 am to 4 pm, pier 92 and 94. Best in Show is from 6 pm to 11 pm at Madison Square Gardens.

Conclusion

The elite group of hunters that gathered for that first meeting at the distinguished Westminster Hotel in 1887, certainly never envisioned the true potential of the famous dog show that has since grown into the mammoth event that it is today.  For dog lovers around the country, and even around the world, 2017 will be another year to appreciate the different beautiful and talented breeds of “Man’s best friend” that Westminster highlights so well. The show that originally only showcased Setter and Pointer “Gun Dogs” has evolved to offer a plethora of gorgeous purebreds to suit almost every taste. The Westminster Kennel Club website does not list the prizes that are awarded for any given event. This reasserts what most every entrant would say about why they compete. It certainly is not for a cash prize. It is for the honor and prestige, along with some well-deserved bragging rights that come along with any prize recognition from the judges – That their beloved dog is the top of the top and the cream of the crop when it comes to its pedigree and abilities. 

 

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