Did you know that there are more than 69 million dogs in the US? About 63 percent of all households own one. Do you?
Today, more than 2,500 purebred dogs will converge at Madison Square Garden in New York City for the 131st annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The contest, which airs tonight and tomorrow night on the USA Network (check your local listings for times), is considered by many to be America's most prestigious dog show.
First held in 1877, the show predates the invention of the light bulb, the automobile, basketball, and Coca-Cola.
It's second only to the Kentucky Derby as the longest continuously held US sporting event.
About10 million television viewers will tune in to watch more than 160 breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) compete for "Best in Show," the coveted award given to the best dog of all the entries.
Not just any dog can enter the Westminster dog show. Pooches must first obtain "champion" status by earning points at various AKC-sponsored dog competitions around the US.
This year, the dog with the most entries for an individual breed is the golden retriever. Other top entries include: dachshunds, Australian shepherds, pugs, rottweilers, and Labrador retrievers. What's your favorite dog breed?
Through the years, there have been more than 289,000 dogs entered in Westminster's shows. In 1999, "Kirby," a papillon, was the oldest dog to capture Best In Show. He was a little more than 8 years old. His record still stands. The youngest winner was the rough collie, Laund Loyalty of Bellhaven, who captured the award in 1929, at the age of 9 months.
The Labrador retriever is the most popular purebred dog in the US, according to the American Kennel Club.
Here are the Top 10:
1. Labrador retriever
2. Yorkshire terrier
3. German shepherd
4. Golden retriever
9. Shih Tzu
10. Miniature schnauzer