Martha Stewart’s Chow Chow Out as Dalmatian Wins at Westminster

Ian the Dalmatian, led by Michael Scott, competes at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Should he win, Ian would be the first Dalmatian named best in show. Photographer: Jack Grassa/Westminster Kennel Club via Bloomberg

Familiar trumped exotic at the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York, as a German Shepherd, Dalmatian and Wirehaired Dachshund won their group competitions and spots to compete in the finals tonight.

“These are dogs most people know,” David Frei, communications director at Westminster, said in an interview at Madison Square Garden. “It’s a ‘regular dog’ show.”

Better-known breeds often capture the audience’s heart at the prestigious pageant. In 2008, Uno invited comparisons with Snoopy when he became the first beagle to win. Ian the Dalmatian, potentially the first Westminster winner of his breed, is marked by artful black spots and a wagging tail that doesn’t quit.

“He’s silly, crazy, full of life,” Ian’s handler, Michael Scott, told reporters. In winning the non-sporting group, he bested a Chow Chow named G.K., short for Genghis Khan, owned by Martha Stewart.

“He loves to be out there,” Jan Kolnik, G.K.’s handler, said after his ouster.

The fourth finalist is an 11-pound Pekingese named Malachy, the second-ranked canine in 2011 in American Kennel Club competition. He ambled -- some might say waddled -- to victory in the toy dog group. Front heavy, his breed is of Chinese origin, and images of it date back to the eighth century.

“When he looks you in the eye, it’s just beautiful,” said the judge who selected him last night, Timothy Catterson. The New Castle, Indiana-based president of the Italian Greyhound Club of America, he added, “If I had that dog in my house I’d be thrilled.”

Before best in show is chosen by Cindy Vogels, a breeder and judge from Greenwood Village, Colorado, three other finalists must be selected -- from the sporting, working and terrier groups. The top-ranked dog, Beckham, a black Cocker Spaniel, must get past an Irish Setter, Weimaraner and 27 other champions from the sporting group.

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