NEW YORK - The two newest dog breeds to join the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club made their public debut in New York on Wednesday in front of the paparazzi, barking and playing ahead of the club's annual show that draws more than 2,700 competitors from around the world.
The Westminster dog show, to be held in mid-February, features 192 breeds, the newest of which are the Coton de Tulears and the Wirehaired Vizsla.
"We have dogs that are more proven, more accomplished than in previous years," said spokesman David Frei with an array of show competitors at a media event in New York.
The coming show is the 139th in the history of Westminster, the second-longest continuously running sporting event in the United States behind the Kentucky Derby. It runs on Feb. 16 and 17 at Madison Square Garden.
Among the canines meeting the press were Chanel and Burberry, a pair of white and fluffy Coton de Tulears who will compete in the small breed category.
Chanel is energetic and an experienced champion who can be counted upon for a steadily good attitude, said her owner, Justine Romano, of Montville, New Jersey.
Burberry, on the other hand, appeared subdued and far less outgoing. "Burberry, we don't know if she's going to be happy or not,"Romano said with a laugh as she patted the sulking dog.
At Westminster this year, Golden Retrievers have 56 entries, the most for any breed, followed closely by Labrador Retrievers and Australian Shepherds.
Representing the other new breed was a Wirehaired Vizsla named Falko, who pranced confidently at the end of a golden chain held by owner Anton Sagh.
Sagh described his coppery, amber-eyed dog as consistently calm and an excellent swimmer. The breed originates from Hungary.
Cotons de Tulears hail from Madagascar.
To be included in the show, a breed must meet rules set by the American Kennel Club, including having sufficient numbers in the United States, a certain geographical distribution and a parent club that regulates breeding.
After competing within their breeds and categories, Westminster competitors vie for the top honour of "Best in Show,"won last year by Sky, a Wire Fox Terrier from California.
Mixed breeds are eligible to compete in an agility contest ahead of the show.