No bones about it, these top dogs are ready to show off their stuff

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The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has legs, as far as history’s concerned.

The club was conceived at a New York City hotel called the Westminster, and members held the first competition in 1877. Only the Kentucky Derby has a longer continuous history among U.S. sporting events.

And Tuesday night, a new winner will be crowned at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.

Monday marked the start of the traditional judging that leads to the best in show prize.

The dogs’ journey to best in show competition includes surviving breed judging and group judging. In breed judging, a canine competes to represent its breed, 201 of which are recognized by the American Kennel Club, the event’s sanctioning body.

Breed winners compete against dogs of often similar breeds and are divided into seven groups, from herding (example: German shepherd), to non-sporting (French bulldog).

Seven group winners compete for best in show and, since its addition by the American Kennel Club in 2012, reserve best in show, or second place.

They’re judged not against each other but against an ideal for their breed.

“You’re judging the dogs against a picture of perfection you have in your mind of the standard,” judge and professional handler Elliott B. Weiss said in an American Kennel Club primer on judging.

Separate competitions for agility, obedience and junior showmanship (by handlers 9 to 18 years old) are held in the days and hours preceding best in show judging Tuesday.

For the first time in the Westminster agility competition’s decade-long history, a mixed-breed dog, a border collie-papillion mix named Nimble, took top honors, organizers announced Tuesday. The AKC designated Nimble as an “all-American dog,” which it defines as being among breeds developed in the United States.

Last year’s best in show winner was “Buddy Holly,” a petit basset griffon vendéen that also won English, Irish and Australian conformation champion titles ahead of its Westminster victory.


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