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Every year, people and their pups gather around the TV to lap up fun and canine cuteness from the Westminster Dog Show. The Mini Page talked with an expert at the Westminster Kennel Club to learn more about the club’s famous show.

Pooches on parade

The Westminster Dog Show is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the United States. Only the Kentucky Derby has been going on longer, by just one year.

The 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was held Monday and Tuesday in New York City. Millions of people throughout the world watch it on television or online.

In the show, 2,721 purebred dogs compete for top honors. A purebred dog is one whose parents were both the same breed, or type, of dog. For example, if a Pekingese is a purebred, then each of its parents were also Pekingese.

In competitions, people have papers proving the dog came from ancestors of the same breed.

Dog on the job

Over the years, people bred, or developed and raised, dogs that were good at certain things. Dogs might have been needed to hunt pests in people’s gardens or farms. They might have been bred to herd sheep, help hunters find birds or protect the family.

People raised dogs with the characteristics, or traits, they needed for the job. For example, terriers were bred to be good at hunting down pests such as rats.

Terrier traits

When people first bred terriers, they thought about what the dog would need to do. If a rat dives into a hole to escape, the terrier needs to be a good digger so it can go in after the rat. It needs to be small enough to fit in the rat hole.

Its body needs to be flexible so it can turn corners in the underground tunnel. It can’t be so tall that it would get stuck.

Its fur should be short so it won’t get tangled on plants. The dog needs to be a good fighter in case it has to defend itself. It has to have a fearless personality, so it isn’t afraid of the rat. It has to enjoy the chase.

These pointers are being judged for Best of Breed. This year, dogs from 187 different breeds and varieties competed in the Westminster Dog Show. (Some breeds are separated even further into varieties. For example, there are three varieties of the dachshund breed: longhaired, wirehaired and smooth.) A dog considered Best of Breed is chosen from each of these 187 breeds and varieties. The Best of Breed champs compete against winners of other breeds that were bred for the same type of activity. For example, pointers compete against other sporting dogs.