The 145th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is this weekend, and there’s a lot to yap about.
For the first time, because of the pandemic, the show has moved 28 miles from inside Madison Square Garden in Manhattan to the outdoors, on the grounds of the 67-acre Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, N.Y.
Spectators and vendors will not be allowed at the event in compliance with the state’s COVID-19 regulations. You’ll be able to watch or stream it on Fox. But don’t worry, the show isn’t in the doghouse for good: the competition has already planned a return to its regular location in New York City in 2022.
This year’s show will feature 2,500 dogs from all 50 states and Puerto Rico, as well as 10 additional countries. Two-hundred nine breeds and varieties will compete, including four newly eligible breeds: the Barbet, the Biewer terrier, the Belgian Laekenois and the Dogo Argentino.
All will be able to compete and make history in the Best in Show competition, held on Sunday. Here, we’ll catch you up with past winners and meet the newest competing breeds. So what are we waiting for? Let’s meet some dogs.
These new breeds are eligible this year
Now recognized by the American Kennel Club, four breeds are eligible to compete at the Westminster Dog Show. Competing for their first chance in history to appear on the green carpet are:
The Barbet: A French water dog, the American Kennel Club describes the Barbet as “a Muppet come to life.” It’s medium-sized and completely covered in a dense, long, curly coat. The breed will be classified with the Sporting Group. Six barbets will compete this weekend.
The Biewer terrier: Pronounced like “beaver,” the Biewer terrier is a long-haired, tri-colored toy breed that will join the Toy Group. These dogs are small but full of energy, and 10 will compete this weekend.
The Belgian Laekenois: This dog is the rarest of the four native Belgian breeds (which also include the Malinois, shepherd, and Tervuren) and will join the Herding Group. The Laekenois is protective and has a rough red, brown or gray coat. Six will compete this weekend.
The Dogo Argentino: A pack-hunting dog, the Dogo Argentino has a short, entirely white coat. Intelligent and powerful, 14 Dogo Argentinos will compete as part of the Working Group.
These are the recent Best In Show winners
As we prepare for the next top dog to wear Westminster laurels, let’s check in with past winners over the last five years:
Siba, a standard poodle, became the first of her breed in almost three decades and the fifth standard poodle ever to win Westminster’s Best in Show last year. The competition was heated as Siba edged out Daniel, a fan-favorite golden retriever who fans hoped to see become the first of his breed to win the prize.
With royalty already in his name, wire fox terrier King received the crowning honor of Best in Show two years ago. He had been selected from an original field of 2,800 as the dogs worked their way over the three-day show to the final competition.
Flynn, a bichon frise, shocked viewers when he was named the 142nd Westminster Dog Show’s Best in Show. The white ball of fluff had previously won the best in breed for non-sporting dogs before winning the purple ribbon.
German shepherd Rumor (named for the Adele hit song “Rumor Has It”) was named Westminster’s 2017 champion. The second of her breed to win the top prize, Rumor had actually come close to retiring a year before, when she had narrowly lost the show.
CJ, a 3-year-old German shorthaired pointer, won Westminster’s 140th show. Owner Valerie Nunes-Atkinson said she’d known CJ had “that something extra” since he was a puppy. CJ won against more than 2,700 entries in the 2016 show.
In a show unlike any other this 145th year, may the best pup win. But of course, we all know that the best dog of all is your dog.
Josie Fischels is an intern on NPR’s News Desk.