The nearly 140-year-old Westminster Kennel Club dog show hasn’t had a mixed-breed prance around since its early days. This year, however, organizers will allow mixed-breeds to compete in a new agility event.
"[Agility] is just about performance. It doesn't matter what your dog looks like. It doesn't matter who their mother or father was," says Irene Palmerini, who owns a poodle-terrier mix named Alfie.
"We're very excited about the fact that Westminster can play a leadership role in embracing, really, the sport of dogs," said Sean McCarthy, the President of Westminster.
Westminster Kennel Club, with its emphasis on purebreds, has caused much disharmony among dog lovers. Some argue that dog breeding is thoughtless, especially as thousands of mixed-breeds suffer in shelters. On the other hand, many people feel strongly about maintaining certain breed traits and creating the most compatible pets.
Westminster’s most prestigious award, Best in Show, will still be chosen from some 2,800 purebred entrants, such as Labrador retrievers and French bulldogs. The 2014 event will take place February 10 and 11.