Primping pooches: Do's and don'ts at Westminster

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Associated Press

Posted on February 11, 2013 at 4:06 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Perfectly primped, vivacious Sophie was the very picture of a poodle. Pompoms neatly trimmed, aqua wraps on her ears and full of flyaway fur, she was most definitely a show dog.

It took a lot of scissors, blow dryers and bobby pins over several days to get her prepped for the start of America's top pooch pageant Monday.

What the Westminster Kennel Club rules out is PEDs — performance-enhanced dogs.

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

"It goes against the spirit of showing dogs in their appropriate state," Westminster President Sean McCarthy said.

Steroids aren't allowed in this sport, either. Yet detecting illegal drugs is virtually impossible when 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."

There were 2,721 entries this year, though some missed out after getting stranded by the 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 chosen Monday night. The top working, sporting and terrier come Tuesday, and judge Michael Dougherty was set to pick the best in show shortly before 11 p.m. at Madison Square Garden on the USA Network.

An affenpinscher called Banana Joe was picked Monday as the best of his breed for the third straight year. The three-peater known for its monkeylike face ranks among the nation's top show dogs.

The best in show will be chosen Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. A Doberman, a wire fox terrier and an American foxhound are among the early favorites to walk off with the prized silver bowl.

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Associated Press writer Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

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