Westminster Dog Show Unleashed: Ruff Competition, Puparazzi, & Other Musings

If you happen to be in New York you might have noticed that it has gone to the dogs.

In fact, many hotels are busy hosting yappy hours and other events for the serious dog fanciers who are attending the 133rd Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Gardens later today.

According to the Best in Show segment on Nightline, the serious dog fancier and show participant will spend up to $100,000 per dog on the show circuit.

So forget the red carpet here on the West Coast, it is the green carpeting of the Westminster Dog Show on the East Coast that matters to these avid breed enthusiasts participating in one of the oldest dog shows in existence.

Queen Victoria’s pet portrait image courtesy of Victorian Web

The European dog fancy began to emerge in the middle of the 19th century spurred on by the pup passion of Queen Victoria.

The dog fancy moved forward as increase in pet dog ownership and hobbies, or more serious pursuits, sparked a trend of showing dogs, dog breeding, and participation in active dog sports.

But the trend focused on perfection and so evaluating dogs for specific looks and behavior led to selective breeding and isolating the breeding stock which has resulted in many of the modern breed standards and traits seen today.

Selective breeding morphed the breeds into different looking animals that are different from the founding animals from those earlier times. (In case you have missed it, Terrierman has been doing a great series on dog breeding and the kennel club. Check out his blog to see them and don’t miss his post on the Westminster Kennel Club Show.)

So just when did the Westminster Dog Show begin?

Officially 1876.

The show has roots back to an informal gathering of sporting gentlemen at the bar of a Manhattan hotel to trade stories about their shooting accomplishments and the talents of their dogs.

Eventually they formed the club called the Westminster Breeding Association—the club owned a kennel and raised Pointers for hunting and field trials.

Then in 1876 the Westminster Breeding Association helped put on a dog show in Philadelphia in celebration of America’s centennial.

Due to its success, the members decide to hold their own dog show and the name of the organization was changed to the Westminster Kennel Club.

The 133rd Westminster Dog Show reports that more than 2,400 dogs (representing 170 breeds) will compete for ribbons.

California leads the pack with the most entrants (265) of any other state.

Now if you overlook the puparazzi, there are still a lot of special services provided to the pampered pooches attending the event.

Although it is not the only hotel catering to the metro pet beauty contestants, at the Hotel Pennsylvania, a popular pooch palace, the Doggie Concierge takes care of the VIPs (Very Important Pooches).

Handlers and owners will be on site. Check out these two Westminster dog handlers that you are sure to see over and over again with their charges.

As one of the hosts to the event, the Hotel Penn sets up a doggie spa-w on the lower floor where discerning pets can enjoy amenities such as the beauty parlor/salon (aka grooming center), treadmills for exercise, a canine masseuse, and an animal communicator.

Don’t forget to make a stop at the his or her toilet areas…in case you have not noticed, show dogs are big business especially during this beastly beauty contest.

You can catch the televised show February 9-10, 2009.

Who will win this year? I am not sure but check out Christie’s pre Westminster interview over at the Pet Connection.

Finally, I also recommend that you enjoy a little levity with the movie, Best in Show.

Below is a clip for you enjoyment.

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  1. Goodness! So much happens behind scenes! I do admire the show and although not a dire fan of club competitions I think responsible and caring breeders do an amazing job at maintaining a truly genetic map for their four-legged friends. It’s so funny, a doggie concierge! Hey, whatever keeps this economy going!

  2. Thanks for stopping by Karina. Yes, it is fun to watch the different breeds and the competition.