The 2014 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show kicks off Feb. 9, and thousands of canines and their owners are on their way to New York for the 138th two-day annual event.
Before you tune in to see which lucky dog will win the coveted Best In Show title, here are a few things you might not know about the Westminster Dog Show.
1. It’s been around for a long time.
First held in 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is America's second-longest continuously held sporting event. Only the Kentucky Derby has been held longer. The organization is also America's oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs.
2. The winners get a fancy lunch.
Every year, the dog that wins Best In Show dines at Sardi's, a theater district restaurant where the walls are lined with portraits of celebrities. In 2012, the tradition nearly came to an end due to health code violations, but the New York Health Department found a loophole: a waiver from the health commissioner. What is the winning canine served? Diced chicken and rice on a platter.
3. Some of America's most popular breeds have never won Best In Show.
Many obscure breeds have secured this coveted title, but Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, dachshunds and Chihuahuas have yet to take home the crown.
4. Entries come from all over the world.
The 2014 show will have canine competitors from 49 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and 13 foreign countries. With 115 entries, Canada has the most foreign dogs, but canines will also be traveling from Mexico, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Finland, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
5. It's controversial.
Although a portion of the proceeds from the first show in 1877 were donated to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, many animal organizations don't support the show today. Critics say Westminster glorifies purebred dogs and encourages puppy mill operations. Animal welfare groups often protest the show.
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