Westminster Dog Show Preview

The Westminster Kennel Club event starts Monday morning with more than 2,600 entries and shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday the winner will be announced on front of 20,000 fans and on a simultaneous webcast. And once again, the Empire State Building will be lit in purple and yellow to highlight the show.

The Westminster Kennel Club is the world’s most famous dog show staged every year at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the world’s most famous sporting arena. It’s an event seen by millions on live television, millions more in 140 countries around the world via the Internet, and in a sold out arena filled with screaming, cheering fans. The Westminster Kennel Club is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs and its show is America’s second longest continuously running sporting event, behind only horse racing’s Kentucky Derby.

In 2006 all of the top 48 dog breeds in America were entered, 66 of the top 67 and 96 of the top 100. The American Kennel Club says "Nothing in the dog world represents continuity and tradition like the Westminster Kennel Club … Being a part of Westminster, whether as a spectator, an exhibitor, or judge, is to be part of history itself. The record of the show is a record of the dog show world in America."

Judges will pick their favorites based on how well dogs match up to the breed standard. Winners in the working, terrier, toy and nonsporting groups Monday night will advance to face the winners in the sporting, hound and herding groups Tuesday night. While golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, beagles, Dalmatians and Dachshunds are among the most popular purebred dogs in the country, none has ever won best in show at the Westminster. Almost half of the winners have been terriers.

Among the celebrities that own dogs who are competing this year, is Bill Cosby, owner of a 6-year-old Dandie Dinmont called "Harry". Harry was bred in New Zealand and won big in Australia before coming to the United States. He took 57 best in show ribbons last year, yet finished fourth in the terrier group at the Garden.

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