The 2022 Westminster Dog Show was slated to begin January 24 but, according to the Westminster Kennel Club, has been canceled “due to the extraordinary spread of the Omicron variant in New York City at this time and the disruptions it is currently creating in travel and event management.”
The first Westminster show took place on May 8, 1877, making it second only to the Kentucky Derby in terms of continuously held sporting events in the United States. (Both events were held despite the Great Depression and the World War.) The show originated as a show for gun dogs, primarily Setters and Pointers, initiated by a group of hunters who met regularly at the Westminster Hotel at Irving Place and Sixteenth Street in Manhattan.
They decided to create a kennel club called the Westminster Kennel Club specifically to hold a dog show. The prizes for these first shows included such items as pearl-handled pistols, which were of use to the hunters and terriermen who worked these dogs in the field.
Held at Gilmore’s Garden, now Madison Square Garden, the show drew over 1,200 dogs. It proved so popular that it took four days instead of the three days originally scheduled. The club donated proceeds from the fourth day to the ASPCA for creation of a home for stray and disabled dogs.
The Westminster Kennel Club predates the formation of the American Kennel Club by seven years and became the first club admitted to the AKC after its founding in 1884. Breed parent clubs (e.g., the Collie Club of America) create the standards for judging their breeds, with the AKC administering the rules about shows and judging.
There are seven groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. Group competition occurs during the evenings. The seven Group winners advance to Best in Show, the final round.
The winning dog becomes a celebrity for the coming year. The reign begins with a media tour followed by appearances on nearly all television network morning shows and visits to iconic spots in New York City and the world. The New York Stock Exchange invites the winner and related handlers to ring the opening bell
In October 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, the 2021 show was was relocated from Madison Square Garden to the grounds of the historic Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, north of Midtown Manhattan. No outside spectators were admitted.
Summarized from Wikipedia.
In 2021, a Pekingese named Wassbi won best in show, but not without controversy. Pekingese are bred for their signature flat faces and concave chests which poses health risks to the animals and many feel they should not be celebrated.
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