At the 142nd Westminster Dog Show, Good Breeding (and Great Style!) Is Everything

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is now in its 142nd year, meaning that it has been around for longer than both the Super Bowl and the Triple Crown thoroughbred races. (Only the Kentucky Derby has been around longer, according to the Westminster website, but only by a year.) More than 120 breeds of dogs participate in the annual pooch parade—last year even saw the addition of cats, though they have their own competition. At the Meet the Breeds event the Saturday preceding the show’s kickoff on Monday, thousands of rain-slicked humans huddled into Piers 92/94 for a chance to breathe the same rarified air as some of the world’s most elite breeds—in total, some 2,882 dogs from across the country. Highly trained and beautifully coiffed canines awaited their adoring public in personalized booths laid across two piers—a kissing booth for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier; a carnival tent for the Pomeranian; a Pupparazzi step-and-repeat for the Rottweilers, one of whom sat patiently in front of it in a tuxedo bib and reflective goggles (“He’s James Bond!” said his owner); a cuddle puddle of Leonbergers, splayed out on rugs; a pug-patterned tablecloth for a table-top puppy pile of pugs, some of whom wore pearls and straw hats, and all of whom were pushed around in the same stroller. At least two of the dogs in attendance had recently appeared on Saturday Night Live; a few had their agents in tow. All, without a doubt, were very good dogs. “You can technically teach a dog to do anything,” said Stephanie Kodis, whose Lhasa Apso, Angie, posed gamely for photographer Charlie Engman, in Vogue’s booth. “Obedience is one thing. This type of competition, with this level of excellence, it’s about far more than the ability to be correctly cued.” What sets a Westminster champion apart, in other words, is far less easily quantifiable. “Star power,” said Kodis, “now that’s another thing entirely.”

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