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Top dogs are groomed to win at Westminster

By BEN WALKER Published: February 12, 2013
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— Scissors, blow dryers, bobby pins — they're as much a part of the Westminster dog show as commands, crates and treats.


Take Sophie, for example. With perfectly trimmed pompoms and fluffed out fur, she's the very essence of poodle pulchritude.

What Westminster won't tolerate, though, are PEDs — performance-enhanced dogs.

That means no tattooing a boxer's nose to make it more black, no braces for a pointer to straighten its teeth, no removing a basset hound's inner eyelid to improve its appearance.

“It goes against the spirit of showing dogs in their appropriate state,” Westminster President Sean McCarthy said Monday, the opening of the two-day show.

Cosmetic surgery isn't permitted, either, along with steroids. Yet detecting illegal drugs is virtually impossible while a dog has its few minutes in the ring.

“Our judges are not all veterinarians,” longtime Westminster television host and breeder David Frei said. “They can't tell if a dog is on greenies.”

Storm has impact

There were 2,721 entries this year, though some missed out after getting stranded by the recent blizzard that hit the Northeast. The 137th Westminster features dogs in 187 breeds and varieties with a pair of newcomers, the treeing Walker coonhound and the Russell terrier.

The herding, toy, nonsporting and hound group winners were to be chosen Monday night.

Often a sellout, the crowd was down this year as the show split the day and evening sessions between exhibition space along the Hudson River and Madison Square Garden.

The top working, sporting and terriers come Tuesday, and judge Michael Dougherty was set to pick the best in show shortly before 10 p.m. Central on the USA Network.

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