Dog lovers, break out the popcorn and put on your giant foam fingers — or rather, paw prints, because the Superbowl of all dog shows starts tonight. When the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show kicks off this morning in New York, a whopping 2,721 dogs representing 187 different breeds will make their turns around the famous ring.
The WKC has added two new dog breeds to the competition this year: described by some as similar to a large Beagle, the Treeing Walker Coonhound will join the Hound Group, and the Russell Terrier will trot proudly into the ring with the rest of the Terrier Group.
The “Best of Breed” portion of the festivities is already under way for the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding groups; the best of the Sporting, Working, and Terrier breeds will be chosen in Tuesday’s segment of the competition.
Several dogs are already the early favorites to claim that coveted “Best in Show” ribbon, including a prize Wire Fox Terrier; a German Wirehaired Pointer who currently ranks as the country’s top show dog; and an American Foxhound who is causing some buzz among the competition.
But odds guru Johnny Avello, who oversees all sports bookmaking at the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, tells Businessweek.com he has another idea of which pampered pooch will take home the top prize. The seasoned oddsmaker has successfully predicted the “Best in Show” winner three times over the past few years, including the 2012 winner, a prized Pekingese named Malachy.
“To pick a winner is hard to do,” Avello admits. “Poodles are always there, though I don’t really like the Poodle to win it this year. The Scottish Terrier’s always in the mix. The English Springer Spaniel always seems to do well. These are all consistently good — every year you’ll find an English Springer Spaniel that’s good.”
But Avello’s gut tells him that a Doberman Pinscher will dominate this year’s battle for doggie domination, and he’s got his eyes on a 4-year-old Dobe named Fifi. “She’s had a good year and been very consistent,” Avello says of the Fifinator. “She’s won some shows, gathered a lot of points. She was always right up there if she didn’t win it.”
Others are putting their money on another Doberman Pinscher, Veni Vidi Vici, who made it all the way to the best-of-seven finals in last year’s WKC Dog Show.
Still many Americans are hoping that their number one dog, the Labrador Retriever, will pull off the upset and take home the bacon in the “Best in Show” round tomorrow evening. Of the lovely Labs competing this year, 5-year-old yellow Lab Mitch is an early favorite. Mitch’s co-owner, Yankees President Randy Levine, tells the Huffington Post that Mitch won’t let himself be ruffled by the tough competition.
“He’s like Derek Jeter,” Levine explains. “Very calm.”
But don’t count out Banana Joe, the pint-sized pooch with the monkey face. The Affenpinscher just claimed “Best in Breed” for the third straight year, and some experts are taking it as a sign he could pull off an even bigger win tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden.
Live, streaming coverage is available on the Westminster Kennel Club website throughout the competition, and a free WKC smartphone app will give you unprecedented access to the exciting event from the comfort of your own home.