This February 10th and 11th marks the 138th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. This grandiose event is rich in history and trivia. Here are five facts to provide you some insight on what happens behind the scenes leading up to the event!
Only 3,200 dogs are allowed to compete in the show. All of the dogs competing have won shows throughout the year prior to Westminster. The top five dogs of each breed are invited to compete. After that, entries are allowed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Due to its prestige and popularity, entries typically sell out in less than an hour.
Dogs must be available for spectators to view throughout the competition. There is no rest for these professionals! Handlers prepare their dogs using a variety of methods, such as special grooming combs and cornstarch, to ensure an impeccable appearance. Once groomed, dogs are held standing to prevent normal canine behavior. Sitting, panting, and chewing of hindquarters can displace the dog’s fur and lead to lost points.
The Best Breeds
Thinking about investing in a show dog? You may want to sponsor a terrier in order to get your money’s worth. Terriers were originally bred to pursue small prey such as rats. Now they are consistent Westminster champions. As of 2013, terriers have won “Best in Show” 45 times.
Speaking of getting your money’s worth – sponsoring a show dog is a guaranteed way to lose money. It only costs $100 to enter a dog into the show. However, much more than that is required to be considered a competitor. Campaigns for champion dogs rival that of minor political campaigns. A typical campaign of $300k per year covers professional handlers, travel, competition entry fees, and advertisements in industry publications. Stud fees are only a few thousand dollars and there are few opportunities for commercials. Even champion dog owners never recoup their outlay.
The show has served as a platform to support charitable causes aiding animals since its inception in 1877. The first show supported building animal shelters for the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals (ASPCA). Throughout the years, a variety of organizations have received funding awards from Westminster. One of last year’s recipients was Project HEAL, which helps wounded veterans get service animals. The show also awards six scholarships to deserving veterinary students annually.