Monday, February 11, 2013

137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Returns to Madison Square Garden

The 137th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show returns to Madison Square Garden on February 11th & 12th, 2013

American Staffordshire Terrier: "Maddy" 2 & 1/2 yrs-old

The Westminster Kennel Club dog show had grand ambitions from its inception in 1877, when nearly 1,200 dogs trotted through the Hippodrome at Gilmore's Garden in New York City. Though that number was lower than promised – the show had hoped to attract nearly 1,500 to make it the biggest in the world – it was an auspicious beginning. By 1937, breeders, owners, aficionados and fans could see 3,147 dogs compete in breed, group and best-in-show competitions. Today, the annual event is the second oldest continuously held sporting competition in the United States, after the Kentucky Derby.

In recent years, the number of dogs has been capped at 2,500, and the spectacle takes place in a newer iteration of “the Garden” — Madison Square Garden — but fierce competition and a grandness of spirit are still hallmarks of the Westminster dog show.

Each dog that shows must be a champion in his or her breed to enter the ring. (It is for this reason that the dogs’ names begin with “Ch.”) Through each round of competition, luminously well-bred dogs are discarded for others more finely constructed; the standard presses toward perfection. From 157 breeds, to seven groups – sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding – to one prancing circle of exemplary specimens, a single dog emerges: the best in show.

What must go through his or her mind at that moment? We never know. At Westminster, as at the Kentucky Derby, the competitors never grant post-game interviews." — The New York Times

Castle Rocks SBigStaff Mad About You "Maddy"


Fred Conrad photographs 102 champion dogs, each the Best in Breed, at the Westminster Dog Show.

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