The Annual Westminster Kennel Dog Show is back at The Garden, bringing together the top tier of competitors, from Dachshunds to Bernese Mountain Dogs, and, this year, two new breeds.
At its best, the Portuguese Water Dog moves with a manner that is “steady, penetrating, and attentive,” and better still if its tail doesn’t droop. The shorthaired Saint Bernard should appear as “powerful, strong and muscular in every part, with a powerful head and most intelligent expression.”
A Madison Square Garden tradition stretching back nearly a century and a half continues over the next two days with the 143rd Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, showcasing the breadth of what The Garden offers. As always, the standards are high. Not a beauty contest, the competition values everything from agility to attitude to expressiveness.
It may seem like a closed society, with Bernese Mountain Dogs, French Bulldogs and Rhodesian Ridgebacks, but the show this year includes two new breeds — and these don’t roll easily off the tongue. The welcome mat is out for seven Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes (in the spaniel family, of Dutch Descent) and eight Grand Basset Griffon Vendéens (with French roots) joining dogs gathered from around the globe.
The event began as the brainchild of a group of hunters who convened regularly in a pub at the Westminster Hotel at Irving Place and 16th Street in Manhattan and wanted to showcase their prize field dogs, primarily Setters and Pointers. Entries, including hounds, herding dogs, and terriers, now travel through a gauntlet of cities and qualifying shows before they reach The Garden for the sport’s pinnacle competition.
In the end, one dog will be crowned Best In Show. Its award — the Westminster Legend Trophy and its own particular place in MSG history.
By The Numbers
1877 The year the show began, making it the longest running sporting event in the U.S., surpassed only by the Kentucky Derby, which began two years earlier. The Westminster show helped christen the first Madison Square Garden in 1879, and it has been here ever since.
2,879 The number of entries that began this year’s competition. They come from all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico, and represent 14 other countries.
203 Breeds are taking part . The biggest group to begin the competition — 57 Golden Retrievers.
14 That’s how many times the Wire Fox Terrier has captured Best In Show. No Breed has won more.
$2 The cost to enter the first Westminster show. Today’s entry fee — $100.
10 to 9 The ideal ratio in inches, length to height, for the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. That’s just one example of the thousands of criteria the judges must weigh.
About The Madison Square Garden Company
The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) is a world leader in live sports and entertainment experiences. The company presents or hosts a broad array of premier events in its diverse collection of iconic venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden, Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, CA; and The Chicago Theatre. Other MSG properties include legendary sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA) and the New York Rangers (NHL); two development league teams – the Westchester Knicks (NBAGL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL); and esports teams through Counter Logic Gaming, a leading North American esports organization, and Knicks Gaming, MSG’s NBA 2K League franchise. In addition, the Company features the popular original production – the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes – and through Boston Calling Events, produces New England’s preeminent Boston Calling Music Festival. Also under the MSG umbrella is TAO Group, a world-class hospitality group with globally-recognized entertainment dining and nightlife brands: Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, Beauty & Essex and Vandal. More information is available at www.themadisonsquaregardencompany.com