Dog show returns with tradition, new breeds

Dog show returns with tradition, new breeds

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While you may struggle to contain the energy of just one four-legged companion in your home, imagine having 2,000 dogs all under one roof.

That’s the reality of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Shows — but, having presented dog shows in some form since 1979, KCP knows the ropes of staging a high-quality, well-organized event.

“We start meeting the next day after the show is over to plan the next year’s event,” said Wayne Ferguson, president of KCP and in-house announcer for the shows, who’s been involved in the dog-show world for more than 45 years.

The two-day event is held Nov. 14-15 at Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks and broadcast Thanksgiving Day on NBC. 

The event has evolved throughout its rich history; for instance, it originally drew participation largely from the Philadelphia region, but now boasts contestants from nearly every state in the nation. 

However, its status as a benched show — where the dogs and their handlers remain in the building throughout the duration of the day and greet the public, rather than “showing and going” — has remained unchanged. Ferguson noted it’s one of just four benched shows left in the country. 

There will be about 180 breeds competing, separated into seven groups: terrier, toy, working, sporting, hound and non-sporting. The winner of each of those categories competes for Best in Show. Seven new breeds will be introduced this year, bringing the number of new breeds introduced at the competition since 2003 to 40.

The competition itself will take place on Saturday, and Sunday’s event will feature canine athletic challenges, family-friendly activities and more. About 60 vendors will set up throughout the weekend, offering pet products and resources, as well as non-pet items.

Ferguson said the events attract a diverse group of spectators.

“We get a lot of families. We have couples, single people, just all dog enthusiasts. And many people, it’s their first time at a dog show,” he said.

He noted that the show is a good outlet for dog lovers to explore their interests.

“It’s just like any other show: If you’re interested in flowers, you go to a flower show; if you’re interested in cars, you go to a car show; if you’re a dog enthusiast, come to a dog show.”

For more information or tickets, visit 

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