Introduction to the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog ShowPublished January 24, 2013
Even those who aren't dog lovers know there is something special about the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Perhaps it’s because the best dogs in the world come to New York City to compete in the show. Or maybe it's because the 137-year-old dog show is steeped in history, having survived two world wars, gas shortages and more. As the second longest continuously held sporting event in the country (the Kentucky Derby is first), there are some traditions that have helped make Westminster one the greatest sporting events ever. And each year, it only gets better, with some surprises each year that make the show memorable.
Westminster 2013: The Largest Showing Ever
This year, there are entries from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and several foreign countries, making the show the largest entry in 15 years. Of the 2,721 dogs competing, there are 61 Golden Retrievers, 54 Labradors and 50 Rhodesian Ridgebacks. New York and California have the most dogs entered in the contest, with 287 and 228 dogs respectively competing.
Westminster Expands to Two Venues
This is the first year that the dog show will be held at two venues: Piers 92/94 during the day and Madison Square Garden at night. (Shuttle buses, available for exhibitors and spectators, will be running from the area hotels (Hotel Pennsylvania, Affinia Manhattan and the New Yorker). Check the schedule for more information.)
The new space at the Piers means that there is more room for benching.
Why Attend the Dog Show & What to Know Ahead of Time
Westminster is truly special because it is one of the only dog shows left in the United States in which spectators can see the dogs and interact with the handlers and breeders.
According to David Frei, the co-host and voice of the show for 24 years, “The handlers, breeders and dog owners are terrific sources of information on deciding whether their breed is the right one for you.”
Even so, keep in mind that breeders and handlers usually arrive at the Garden before sunrise to begin ring preparations. They (and their show dogs) may have had a stressful journey through bad weather, lost luggage, delayed flights and been up through most of the night preparing. Before going into the ring, they have many things on their mind. If you want to talk to them, the best thing you can do is keep your questions until after they have shown their dog. You will be able to learn much more by waiting. That is also the best time to ask to pet their dog(s).
If you are planning on attending the show in person, you can find each breed’s show time in the catalog. Before the show, purchase a catalogue ($15) or guidebook ($20) to help you find your favorite breeds.
To purchase tickets:
Daytime: Piers ticketing will be a general admission. This will allow entrance to both Piers 92/94, as well as to all of the benching and judging that is held there. There will be limited seating, as usual, around each ring. Online ticketing will be subject to an additionally fee. Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the day of the event. $25.00
Evening: Madison Square Garden tickets are sold through MSG and at ticketmaster.com, 866-858-0008; or thegarden.com. The 200 series of seats can only be purchased at a cost of $40 per evening, plus applicable fees.
Watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show from Afar
If you can’t go to the show, watch it online throughout the day on the Westminster website or on TV at night.
“Although the dog show competitors are purebreds, the show is really about a celebration [of] all dogs and the animal-human bond,” says Frei. “Snuggle up on the couch with your pooch, [and] cheer for your alma mater breed or a dog that you like best.”
For live television coverage, check your local listings and tune in to CNBC on Monday, February 11 from 8 PM-11 PM EST and watch USA Network on Tuesday, February 12, from 8 PM-11 PM EST. Television coverage in the Pacific Time zone is delayed for that time zone and will air from 8 PM-11 PM PST both nights.