Mongrels will be allowed to compete at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for the first time in 138 years, show officials told a news conference Wednesday.
Along with adding mix-breeds, the country's premiere dog show will add three new breeds – the Chinook, the Portuguese podengo pequeno and the rat terrier, according to The Associated Press
. While the mix-breeds will compete in new agility drills, they will not be able to compete for the Best in Show award.
Toms River, N.J., dog owner Irene Palmerini told the AP she is happy that her dog Alfie, a part-poodle, part-terrier will be able to participate in Westminster this year. Alfie will be in the "all-American" dog category, going up against purebred competitors at the elite event.
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"I didn't breed this dog to do agility. He's just my pet," Palmerini said to the Associated Press. "(Agility) is just about performance. It doesn't matter what your dog looks like. It doesn't matter who their mother or father was."
Westminster leaders told the Associated Press that they are pleased with the change, saying that the dog show is "a celebration of all dogs."
"We're very excited about the fact that Westminster can play a leadership role in embracing, really, the sport of dogs," purebred or not, said Westminster President Sean McCarthy.
The dog show will select its best in show Feb. 11 from more than 2,800 entrants in 187 breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club. Those dogs include 76 Labrador retrievers, 58 golden retrievers and 52 French bulldogs, but also robust entries from some lesser-seen breeds, like 30 Tibetan mastiffs.
The Westminster Kennel Club dog show will take place Feb. 10-11 at Madison Square Garden, according to the event's website
. Monday's competition includes hounds, toy, non-sporting and herding groups. Tuesday's competition will include junior sportsmanship, sporting, working, terrier groups and best in show.
CNBC will televise the competition Feb. 10 from 8-11 p.m. and will move to the USA Network Tuesday from 8-11 p.m.
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