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Photograph: Lauren Spinelli

Everything you need to know about the Westminster Dog Show

Written by
David Goldberg

Every February, more than 2,800 beglammed canines (and their owners) pack Madison Square Garden for two days of ferocious competition during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. We broke down everything you need to know about the beloved national fixation—now in its 141st year in NYC—so you can judge those furry guys like the pros do.

RECOMMENDED: Complete Westminster Dog Show guide

The dogs
No, your mom cannot register her schnauzer Pretzel to compete at MSG. The pooches taking the bench at the big show must have multiple wins under their tails from previous breed-specific shows. The best of the breeds face off during the daytime of the WKC Dog Show, and the seven top doggies ascend to the final groups (sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, nonsporting and herding) at night. From there, only one beast can take the prize of Best in Show. And listen closely for the finalist’s names, which Kanye or Gwyneth may want to steal: past winners have included Palacegarden Malachy, Foxcliffe Hickory Wind and Special Times Just Right.

The shows
Head to Pier 92 and 94 on Saturday 11 for Meet the Breeds (10am to 5pm) and to see particularly springy pooches leap over bars, dash through tunnels and crush an obstacle course at the Agility Championships (8am to 4pm, 7 to 9pm). Then, watch the breed-judging unfold at Madison Square Garden on Monday 13 and Tuesday 14 from 8am to 4pm, followed by the climactic, dramatic group picks from 6 to 11pm, which climaxes with the announcement of the Best in Show.

The merch
Even if your four-legged soul mate isn’t competing for eternal glory in this year’s show, you can still pamper yourself (and your pet) like a champion. Pick up collars, leashes and more from Mackenzie Couture Accessories; organic grooming products from Kibble Pet; and dog-inspired art prints from D.W. Possum Designs. For canines, Christmas apparently comes twice a year. 

The cats
That’s right. Along with three new dog breeds—the Sloughi, Pumi and American Hairless Terrier—this year’s blowout features felines showing alongside the pups. At the Meet the Breeds show, you can fall in love with Sphynx cats, Maine Coons and even a Bengal called Jungletrax Abiding Ovation. 

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is at Pier 92 and 94 Sat 11 and at Madison Square Garden Mon 13 and Tue 14 (212-213-3165, Tickets $32–$75. 

Lauren Spinelli

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