Dalmatian, Dachshund could make Westminster show history

NEW YORK Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:23pm EST

1 of 2. A Golden Retriever stands during the 'Best in Breed' category at the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York's Madison Square Garden, February 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A wire-haired Dachshund, Pekingese, Dalmatian and German Shepherd defeated thousands of other competitors to advance to the final round of the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

They will be joined by victors from the sporting, working and terrier groups to vie for the best of show prize on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden where more than 2,000 dogs representing 185 breeds have competed over two days.

David Frei, the club's director of communications, said no wire-haired Dachshund had ever won Westminster, and had only won the best-in hound group twice.

"The only surprise would be if there weren't any surprises," said Frei. "Judging is all in the eye of the beholder. It's really a subjective process."

He added that balance and silhouette were critical.

Dogs competing in the show came from as far away as China, Russia, Brazil and Japan, but the majority were from the United States, particularly New York, California and Pennsylvania.

And while age is no barrier to victory -- the winners have ranged from more than 10 years to just nine months old -- history is on the side of the wire-haired Fox terrier.

The breed has won 13 best-in-shows. Terriers have triumphed 45 times, while all other six groups combined have won 58 blue ribbons.

But this year's competition has a solid chance at making history. There has never been a Dalmatian nor a wire-haired Dachshund best-in-show at Westminster.

Las Vegas odd makers are pointing to the Pekingese, at 6-to-1, as the favorite to prevail. Among Monday's pack of initial finalists, the Dalmatian was the long shot at 100-to-1.

Last year's winner, a Scottish deerhound named Hickory, was the first of its breed ever to win, defying the 60-to-1 odds against victory.

Six breeds competed for the first time this year -- the American English coonhound, the Cesky Terrier, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, the Finnish Lapphund, the Norwegian Lundehund and Mexico's hairless Xoloitzcuintli.

On Monday a Chow chow owned by lifestyle guru Martha Stewart won the best-of-breed competition, but failed to place during the non-sporting group judging, which was won by the Dalmatian.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Patricia Reaney)

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