From a shih tzu to a sheepdog, dogs advance at Westminster Kennel Club show

Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:03am EST
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By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A bouncy beagle and a floppy Old English sheepdog were among a handful of canines selected on Monday to advance in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, a two-day event that draws more than 2,700 competitors from 15 countries.

In its 139th year, the show is the second-longest continuously running sporting event in the United States, behind the Kentucky Derby horse race.

"It's a beautiful group of dogs," said Colton Johnson, from Colorado Springs, whose three-year-old Old English sheepdog, Swagger, won best in his group and will advance to the finals.

From perfectly coiffed Standard Poodles to small and sprightly Bichon Frises, 192 breeds were featured in this year's event, taking place at Piers 92 and 94 and Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.

New to the competition are two breeds: Coton de Tulears, part of the non-sporting group, and the Wirehaired Vizsla, of the sporting group, hailing from Madagascar and Hungary, respectively.

As part of the show, judges select the best of each breed and group, divided into seven categories - hound, toy, non-sporting, herding, sporting, working and terrier.

On Monday, a lively 15-inch beagle, named Miss P, was selected to represent the hound group. Chosen to head the toy group was a silky-haired shih tzu with a sparkling ponytail, called Rocket. Flame, a dark and puffy standard poodle, will represent the non-sporting group. For the herding group, the friendly 110-pound Old English sheepdog, Swagger, was picked.

Sporting, working and terrier groups are judged on the second day of the show.   Continued...

Swagger, an Old English Sheepdog, walks with his co-owner and handler Colton Johnson during judging in the Herding Group at the 139th Westminster Kennel Club's Dog Show in the Manhattan borough of New York February 16, 2015.  REUTERS/Mike Segar