Everything You Might Want to Know About the 2013 Westminster Dog Show

Esther Zuckerman
February 11, 2013

Expect New York to have even more dogs than usual for the next couple of days: the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show is in town Monday and Tuesday. In case you find yourself watching, or trying to talk about something other than Best in Show references, here's the world of Westminster now — the workouts, the favorites, the controversies (there's a murder this year), and, you know, the places to find cute dog photos.

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Two New Breeds  Competing at Westminster for the first time this year are Russell terriers and treeing Walker coonhounds. Russells are often called Jack Russells, like the dog on Fraiser or Uggie; the similar Parson Russell terrier, which has a more "square" body, is already a part of Westminster. The treeing Walker is known for chasing raccoons up trees. This is a photo of a treeing Walker sniffing a Russell terrier's butt: 

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A New Location (Sort of) Though the primetime broadcast (on CNBC and USA) will be based out of Madison Square Garden as usual, this year the daytime part of the competition—where breeds are judged—is taking place at Piers 92/24 on Manhattan's far West Side. Westminster is streaming breed judging in the afternoons. DogChannel.com explains that the "benching" area—where the public is able to view and meet the dogs—had become hectic and crowded at MSG in recent years. Per DogChannel.com Westminster is a "bench" show, "which means all of the dogs exhibited on a given day must be on display in the benching area for the public to view and meet. A bench show from its very first show in 1877, Westminster is one of the few bench shows left in the country, and this feature sets the show apart and makes it both historical and special." You can learn more about how benching works here.

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A Hotel for Dogs Hotels that host Westminster pups also have special amenities for the show dogs—they're spas of sorts. Note the mock fire hydrants at the Hotel Pennsylvania near MSG, which are just asking legs to be lifted against them: 

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At the New Yorker Hotel a few blocks away an American Eskimo worked out on a treadmill: 

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And a poodle was being groomed at the New Yorker hotel: 

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This Affenpinscher at the New Yorker genuinely looked like it has no face: 

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And here's a Cardigan Welsh Corgi named Harvey in the lobby of the Hotel Pennsylvania: 

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Photos by Esther Zuckerman

A Controversy! Or Two! The New York Times has been doing (pretty serious) deep-dive reporting on Westminster's seedy underbelly. First, Mary Pilon and Susanne Craig reported over the weekend on how the American Kennel Club, the governing body for dog shows including Westminster, is coming under scrutiny from "animal protection services, law enforcement agencies and lawmakers who say that lax in performing inspections and that it often lobbies against basic animal rights bills because they could cut into dog registration fees." Today, the same team reported on how one Westminster judge reveals how insular this world is, a new reality that calls into question the fairness of the results. 

A True Crime This year's festivities have already been marred for some by the recent murder of Afghan hound expert Peter Belmont. USA Today reports that Belmont was found beaten in his home in Kansas City, Kansas. The Afghan hound community rallied to help two dogs who escaped from Belmont's home during the crime.

Some Labrador Love Reuters ran a story with this headline: "Labrador lovers hope for upset at Westminster dog show." But the Wall Street Journal feature on why Labs don't get Westminster love, despite being popular, doesn't give those lovers much hope. Why don't judges like Labs? Well, they aren't flashy and don't like to hog the spotlight. So basically, while other dogs are the Beyoncés of the world, Labs are the Kelly and Michelles. 

...and More Photos  So, who to follow on Twitter if you want to spend your day looking at adorable photos from the show? Well, the Times team is doing good work on that front. In addition to Pilon and Craig's tweets, the Times has enlisted the help of one Hamilton Pug, who is also providing Vines: 

Natural beauties? #westminsterdogshow vine.co/v/bvwHunz1eiz

— Hamilton Pug (@HamiltonPug) February 11, 2013

(Hamilton's human dad is a Times reporter.) You can also check out Paw Nation and Modern Dog Magazine on Twitter, if you haven't already spent too much time thinking about a dog show by reading this far.