In dog show world, details obvious and subtle rule the day
May 9, 2023 -NEW YORK (AP) — Doe-eyed dachshunds, push-faced French bulldogs and other nonsporting breeds circle the hallowed rings. A bracco Italiano receives a jowl massage. Spaniels get blow-dried. Everyone is prepping — lovingly, meticulously — for a hoped-for big moment.
With more than 3,000 dogs competing this week at the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show, one of the world’s most prestigious, sometimes it’s a competitor’s confident gait or self-possessed gaze that sets it apart from the pack.
“Like all things, beauty is subjective,” said Ann Ingram, who traveled from Cork, Ireland, to New York City to judge several events. “A dog’s attitude in the ring can help. If the dog loves itself, you can tell. He kind of has that attitude of, you know, ‘I’m a winner.’”
In short: There are the obvious characteristics — the quantifiable ones — and then there are the intangibles.
The show is being held this year on the 40-acre (16-hectare) grounds of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, where Ingram was selected to choose the winning schipperke, bulldog, Frenchies and miniature poodle to go on to the semifinals – and, perhaps, the marquee Best in Show competition on Tuesday night.
Each spring, the rarefied world of breeding purebreds — a beloved if idiosyncratic American subculture — is telecast to viewers around the world for three days spanning more than 16 hours. Things can get pretty arcane if you’re not steeped in the topic.