A regal three-year-old Pekingese, a Scottish deerhound, a Chinese Shar-Pei and a bearded collie who likes to stand on his hind legs and hug people advanced to the final round of the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York that ends tonight.
The four champion purebreds face the winners of the sporting group, which includes Golden Retrievers; working dogs, such as Akitas; and terriers, before the best in show is named. Judges will name winners of various individual breeds during the day. The best in show will be picked at about 11 p.m. New York time.
The top dog will be decided by Paolo Dondina, the first Italian national to pick best in show at Westminster.
“I just hope we go out there and look good,” said David Fitzpatrick, the handler of Malachy, the Pekingese who was the No. 2 dog last year in the American Kennel Club competition. “I’ve never shown to an Italian judge.”
An 11-pound hairy ball of charisma, Malachy was a crowd favorite at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s the best Pekingese I’ve ever seen,” said Frank Sabella, the judge who selected him as the top toy dog and the author of “Your Poodle, Standard Miniature and Toy.”
The Pekingese is of Chinese origin, according to the American Kennel Club, with large, dark eyes and a “lion-like” image.
The Pekingese bested a tiny Pomeranian, a crowd favorite as it ran around in circles on the floor of the arena.
Last year’s top ranked dog, a Smooth Fox Terrier named Dodger, will not compete, even though it’s in New York with its owners and officially entered at Westminster.
“There was no reason to show him,” said Phillip Booth, Dodger’s co-owner in an interview last night.
“People don’t realize how subjective it is,” he said of Westminster.
Sitting out may have saved Dodger’s reputation. The judge assigned to assess Smooth Fox Terriers passed over Dodger at several shows in the past two years.