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Westminster Dog Show Begins Today

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Jack Russell Terrier

Today marks the beginning of the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Show.  The show is the second longest continuously held sporting event in the United States, after the Kentucky Derby. This year there will be a few changes for the show:  an additional venue and two new dog breeds.

The two new breeds being added are the Russell terrier and treeing Walker coonhound, making a total of 187 vying for best in show.

For the first time ever, the show will be adding a second venue. In addition to Madison Square Garden, it will be extended to Piers 92/94 on the Hudson River.  The increased space will give dog lovers the chance to have more interaction with their favorite breeds.

This year also marks an increase in the number of dogs featured, with about 3,200 dogs in the show.  Westminster is the second-longest

The Russell terrier, at 10-12 inches tall at the shoulder, will be among the smaller breeds in the show. The breed was born when the Jack Russell breed was divided into two in the mid 1980s — the smaller Russell terrier and the larger Parson Russell terrier, which measures 12-15 inches tall.

The Russell terrier is described as the ultimate working earth terrier because of its small size and unique chest. Even though the breed originated in the 1800s it will be making its debut at this years show.

The other new entrant, the treeing Walker coonhound, is a relative of the English foxhound and gets its name from tracking and chasing wild raccoons up trees.

Before being included in the show, a breed must meet American Kennel Club rules, including having sufficient numbers in the United States, a certain geographical distribution and a parent club that ensures responsible breeding practices are being followed.

Labradors, golden retrievers, German shepherds and Yorkshire terriers are among the most popular breeds, while the Wirehaired fox terrier has won best in show 13 times. Terriers, in general, have won the top prize 45 times.

Odds are slim that one of the new breeds showing will take home the Best In Show prize. Normally, it takes several years of showing for a breed to win the top prize.  The shortest time for a breed to win Best In Show so far has been 20 years.  The breed that accomplished it was the Bichon Frise, which won the top prize in 2001.

The 2012 Best In Show winner was Malachy, a 4-year-old Pekingese.

The show airs this evening beginning at 7 p.m. on CNBC.  There is a smartphone app available from the Westminster website, and there will also be live streaming available on the site.  For more information on the show schedule and to download the app, go to


Source:  Westminster Kennel Club site,

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