Westminster dog show adds three new breeds, mixed breed event

Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:14pm EST
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By Marina Lopes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three new breeds, Chinooks, Portuguese Podengo Pequenos and Rat Terriers, will be vying to be top dog at the 138th Westminster Kennel Club in New York in February, organizers said on Thursday.

The two-day show on February 10 and 11 at Madison Square Garden and Piers 92 and 94 will open with a separate agility competition in which mixed-breed dogs will be allowed to compete for the first time in more than 100 years.

About 2,845 dogs, the most in more than two decades, will be featured in the show, the second longest continuously held sporting event in the United States after the Kentucky Derby.

"They all have interesting histories. It's fun to see the new breeds, hearing what they were bred to do and trying to envision them doing that," said David Frei, a co-host of the show.

The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, the smallest new breed in the show, is used by Portuguese hunters to catch rabbits and comes in two varieties, smooth and wire.

The Chinook, a breed that was developed in New Hampshire in the 1920's, is highly trainable and used in sledding, scootering and carting, and the Rat Terrier, a small, playful American farm dog is known for hunting rodents and vermin.

Joy Lecuyer, a 16-year-old from Enfield, Connecticut, woke up at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday to introduce her Rat Terrier, Levi, at a preview of the show.

"It's great for people to finally acknowledge them for who they are: great hunters," said Lecuyer, who has been working with Rat Terriers as a junior competitor since she was seven.   Continued...

A rat terrier is introduced as a new breed during a news conference to announce the line up for the 138th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan in New York January 15, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid