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5 things to know about the Westminster dog show


NEW YORK (AP) - Barks, blow dryers and black Russian terriers will abound at the 138th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, America's most prominent pooch pageant. Judging begins Monday morning and the winner will be picked Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Things you'll see (and not see) this week:

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TALE OF THE TAPE: 2,845 dogs are entered in 190 breeds and varieties, coming from all 50 states and from as far away as Australia, Japan and Brazil. There are Swedish vallhunds, Chinese shar-peis and spinoni Italiani. Do they understand different languages? Well, the handler of reigning champion Banana Joe the affenpinscher says he responds to German, Dutch, Spanish and English.

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UNLUCKY DAWGS: In the park or backyard, Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers and Dalmatians and Dachshunds and Chihuahuas are pretty popular. But at Westminster, they're all in the doghouse. They've never won, not once. Why no love? Many of them are considered "honest dogs," meaning they don't rely on a fancy cut to impress. Rather, neatly trimmed terriers and preening poodles often take the top honor.

Mutts Allowed Out of the Dog House for the 138th Annual Westminster Dog Show
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MOCKUMENTARY ... OR DOCUMENTARY? Cult classic "Best in Show" is often hailed as a perfect parody of big-time dog events. But if anyone who enjoyed Christopher Guest's film happened to wander into Westminster, they might think it's way more truth than fiction. Rich owners, mom-and-pop outfits and the backstage scramble are all part of the scene. So was Parker Posey last year - star of the 2000 movie with her "Busy Bee" toy, she came to the Garden to see the real thing.

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CLASS FAVORITES: The best in show winner gets a silver bowl (small dogs are usually coaxed to jump right in) and a ribbon. There's no cash prize - owners often make a lot of money by breeding the champion. The prime contenders: Sky the wire fox terrier, Matisse the Portuguese water dog, Swagger the old English sheepdog, Riley the Irish water spaniel and the Fifinator, a Doberman who has her own Facebook page. Judge Betty Regina Leininger will pick her winner shortly before 11 p.m. EST on the USA Network - she's isolated from the whole show until walking into the best-of-seven final ring and pointing to America's new top dog.

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OFF CAMERA: Every breed winner gets a close-up on the Westminster telecast while judges examine their teeth, coat, gait and most everything else. Dogs are checked for how close they come to matching the purebred standard. The real action often is before and after they've paraded on the green carpet. Handlers try every trick to keep them still - teasing with liver treats, playing with stuffed frog toys or combing their fur. Tucked inside in the distinctive gold-and-purple breed boxes on the floor are water spray bottles, ice packs and brushes. Then again, sometimes all the dogs need are each other for a rollicking romp and an entertaining sideshow.

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fng01 February 10 2014 at 6:50 PM

You people e.g., (r1kramer) are complete "no-nothings" and jerks. Pure-bred dog breeders are the only people in this country who go to unbelievable lengths to maintain the purity and integrity of a breed--and yes, their health. People like r1kramer are so uninformed that their comments are laughable. He/she must have watched and believed Best in Show, a decent comedy. In truth, a "puppy mill" is your local, on-the-mall pet shop and the people who advertise in newspapers as having "AKC Champion Blood Lines for $$$'s. Complete nonsense (or should I say, complete BS).

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jadpaps February 10 2014 at 12:11 PM

Hello! I'm looking forward to watching the Westminster Dog Show. Papillons are wonderful dogs that I'll be watching.

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1 reply
jmtpoodle jadpaps February 10 2014 at 1:05 PM

Yes they are!!! My little GiGi was the sweetest little girl. Lived to be 16 1/2 YO. I'm on my second Poodle now - very lovable, and sooo smart. Good luck to all the wonderful doggies in the show.

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sharon February 10 2014 at 12:21 PM

great danes are the gentle giant. and so lovable. we are on out 3 one. holly is 3 years old. black

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1 reply
lbreamer sharon February 10 2014 at 1:16 PM

My daughter in law has a Great Dane, sweetest thing ever! We have a St Bernard right now; my husband said he's going for a Great Dane when that one passes on... looks like we'll just be having big dogs at our house!!

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gabegeese February 10 2014 at 12:24 PM

I love papillons because they can do agility, rescue, therapy, obedience, rally, conformation. Paps can wear many hats. However, what is this about mutts not being allowed to participate...in agility. That's just plain snobby. My dogs say = : > ((---- even though they are purebred paps out of international champions.

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1 reply
msjgl gabegeese February 10 2014 at 1:09 PM

My Pap is now 13 years old and almost blind (one eye) has been removed from Glaucoma, she is however still active and doesn't seem to know she is almost totaly blind. It is hard to watch and catch her from bumping into a wall or chair leg remembering she is a AKC Champion finishing at 11 months old, pretty exceptional for any breed, winning her last time in the ring as a senior at 8 years old and totally retiring at that time.
My point is, I believe the last and only time a Papillon won at Westminster was in 1988. So why is it my little girl as with so many overlooked breeds who have earned their championships through hard work on both the owners and Paps never even come close to winning at Westminster. Are the judges 'size' blind or do they only see breeds they can relate to. So here's to the magnificent, beautiful breeds who work their hearts out in the show ring only to be overlooked yet again.

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1 reply
hellyon3too msjgl February 10 2014 at 6:06 PM

The last time a Papillon won Westminster was in 1999. Since then 13 different breeds have taken the honors. The only repeat breed was the English Springer Spaniel in 2000 and 2007 (not the same dog). Seems pretty fair to me.

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Kaye February 10 2014 at 12:25 PM

I want to see a Shih Tzu in the winners circle.

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1 reply
bevboshoff Kaye February 10 2014 at 12:41 PM

couldnt agree more!! sweetest creature on earth!

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Linda February 10 2014 at 12:40 PM

All dogs are winners to the right person... my three are my winners :)

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dlcox56 February 10 2014 at 5:37 PM

Looking back at the "Best in Show" winners going back to the 1920's - I can honestly say there have only been 4 winners of dogs that I'd even want - Beagle, 2 Newfoundlands, German shepherd. Most of the rest just have some sort of stupid haircut. For once I'd like to see a dog like a foxhound, Labrador retriever, or an English mastiff. Yes, the little dogs are cute but I can't see where they are more the ultimate example of their breed than a well put-together foxhound.

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Janice!! February 10 2014 at 12:57 PM

Why does Obama have to be brought into this. Really, c'mon. Always gotta be one in the crowd. *smh*

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Sunny February 10 2014 at 2:55 PM

I would love to see and Old English Sheepdog win.

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Larna J. Keane; February 10 2014 at 3:07 PM

I never showed seriously in Conformation. But, once you have experienced taking a dog thru Obedience trials.........you look at a show like this differently. Sure, it seems unfair for some dogs to have the expert handler doing the show in front of the judge in Conformation ..... not sure about all that........I just love to see the activities and was glad my dog, and I got to compete in Obedience Trials.

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1 reply
hah153 Larna J. Keane; February 10 2014 at 6:53 PM

What a sad, vain life yours must be.........

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