Pooches show their best side at Westminster

WESTMINISTER (REUTERS) -  From toy-sized Brussels Griffons to 180-pound Irish Wolfhounds, hundreds of purebred dogs packed into New York on Tuesday (Feb 16), the second day of the two-day competition, to put their best paw forward at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in hopes of advancing towards the gold.  

Some 2,700 dogs from more than a dozen countries have entered one of the world's most prestigious events for pedigree breeders.

Now in its 140th year, the show is the second-longest continuously running sporting event in the United States after the Kentucky Derby.

This year, the show has expanded its sporting competition by adding a new category.  

"So we have confirmation, we have agility championship and now an obedience championship," said Gail Miller Bisher of Westminster.  

"Also, we have seven breeds that have debuted this year at our show. Two of them will be showing today in the working and the sporting group," she added.  

Those seven breeds just added to the American Kennel Club's registry are the Bergamasco, Lagotto Romagnolo, Berger Picard, Miniature American Shepherd, Boerboel, Spanish Water Dog and Cirneco dell'Etna.  

Nearly 200 breeds and varieties were eligible for this year's Westminster competition.

As usual, labrador retrievers and golden retrievers have the most entries, with 51 and 50 contestants respectively. The bat-eared French bulldog comes in third.  

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.  

The best of the hound, toy, non-sporting and herding groups were selected on Monday and the top sporting, working and terrier will be selected on Tuesday, before the best in show is decided.

Last February, a bouncy female beagle named Miss P was crowned the winner.