Three new breeds will be joining the competition at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this year. The 141st annual event runs Feb. 11, 13 and 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and is expected to feature more than 2,800 dogs.
Besides the well-known breed judging, there will also be agility and obedience events, as well as a non-competitive "Meet the Breeds" program where animal lovers can get up close and personal with dogs — and cats! Although "Meet the Breeds" has featured dogs and cats for the past five years, this is the first time the event has been part of Westminster weekend.
"We are taking necessary safety precautions to ensure that all of the animals are safe and comfortable during the event," says Brandi Hunter, spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, which sponsors the event. "And the dogs are fabulous! They are quite OK with sharing a bit of the attention."
Here's a look at the three new breeds vying for the Best in Show trophy.
American hairless terrier
"Fearless and feisty," as described by the American Kennel Club, the American hairless terrier was the result of a rare mutation that happened in a littler of rat terriers in the 1970s. The completely hairless pups became a hit with allergy sufferers and a new breed was eventually born. The athletic, muscular dogs often perform well in agility and obedience.
This Hungarian herder is known for its wavy and curly hair and a "whimsical expression," according to the AKC. They're active, lively and energetic, and make great family dogs as long as the family isn't a bunch of couch potatoes. This dog likes to be in the middle of the action, and excels at sports and obedience.
Also known as the Arabian greyhound, the sloughi (pronounced SLOO-ghee) is a smooth-coated hound from North Africa. The graceful dogs can be reserved around strangers, says the AKC, but they are incredibly powerful and athletic, with roots in hunting large game.