When it comes to live sports and events, the effects of COVID-19 are still being felt even as the U.S. begins to open back up this summer, and that is true of the 145th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
For the first time in its history, the show is not being held at Madison Square Garden but at the historic Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown, New York. Because of New York COVID-19 regulations, Westminster's 2021 events were not open to spectators.
The Westminster Dog Show is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S. Many may not realize that the week actually involves two distinct events: the annual dog show, a competition for purebred dogs, and the Masters Agility Championship and Masters Obedience Championship, which allows dogs from all backgrounds to compete.
In 2021, four new breeds were introduced at the Westminster Dog Show: the barbet, the Biewer terrier, the Belgian laekenois and the Dogo Argentino.
Before Best in Show airs live Sunay night, let's take a look at the highlights and social media reactions from the first two days of the show, which is being held June 11-13. We'll also collect what you surely came here for: pictures of the dogs competing, not all of whom will win but all of whom are nevertheless the best.
Westminster Dog Show Highlights, Photos and Twitter Reaction
The barbet, one of the four new breeds making their debut this year in the dog show, made an appearance at the press preview event Tuesday. The Belgian laekenois is another new breed for this year.
Other breeds who were on hand to greet the press and represent the show included the pug, the St. Bernard and the pointer.
On Saturday, four groups announced their winners: hound, toy, non-sporting and herding. The other three groups—sporting, working and terrier—will be announced Sunday, as will Best in Show.
Bourbon the whippet was the runner-up for last year's Best in Show award, but she's well on her way to a potential victory this year as she won the hound group Saturday. The last time a hound group dog won Best in Show was Miss P, a beagle, in 2015.
Wasabi the Pekingese took the toy group. His grandfather, Malachy, won Best in Show at the 2012 Westminster Dog Show.
The non-sporting group was claimed by Mathew the French bulldog, and Connor the old English sheepdog won the herding group.
In the agility competition, it was no surprise that border collie Verb took the title for the second time, having last won in 2019. Verb beat his former championship time of 32.05 seconds by .75 to finish the obstacle course this year in 31.3 seconds.
Barry Bonds and his miniature schnauzer Rocky are competing in the terrier group in this year's show:
FS1's Charlotte Wilder was on the ground at this year's show and delivered plenty of viral moments, including getting three Boston terriers to howl on cue:
If you love golden retrievers (and really, who doesn't?), Sunday's action was for you:
On Sunday, husband and wife Billy and Amanda Vine will show their Bordeaux purebreds Shadow and Pirate and go head-to-head in hopes of winning the working group before hopefully advancing on to the Best in Show competition Sunday evening.
Sunday is the final day of the Westminster Dog Show. Best in Show will be airing live for the first time ever on Fox. The winner will be announced after 10:30 p.m. ET.