By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, a breed competition where proud pooches put their best paws forward for a panel of judges, concluded this week. The two-day show takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York City every year, featuring all kinds of dogs as they’re judged against high standards of perfection for their breed including color, eye shape, tails, and personality.
Before the dogs are able to compete for the top prize of “Best of Show,” they have to win their “Best of Breed” segment. See, thousands of competing dogs are divided into seven basic categories: sporting, non-sporting, hound, terrier, working, herding, and toy.
Sporting dogs include pooches that typically run or swim to hunt prey, while hounds use their great sense of smell to track quarry. Meanwhile terriers are experts at digging into the ground for game like foxes, mice, and rats. Working dogs are those that either serve law enforcement or home security, while herding dogs help on the farm with livestock. Finally, toy dogs are typically small and meant for companionship.
While mixed dogs were allowed to compete in small parts of the show, only purebreds were allowed in the main event. A purebred dog is one with registration papers showing that both of his parents were registered as the same breed, as described by a kennel club. For example, the Westminster Kennel Club has a series of descriptions for “standard” breed characteristics they use for their competition. Some animal rights groups argue that these ultra-selective competitions make people less likely to adopt ordinary dogs. Even the famous dog breeder Wally Conron regrets making certain combinations of pooches popular, such as the Labradoodle mix – a cross between a Labrador and a Poodle.
Images courtesy of Westminster Dog Show on Twitter.