BREAKING NEWS: Westminster Announces Major Changes for 2013

On the opening day of America’s top dog show, the Westminster Kennel Club held a news conference today to announce major changes coming for the 2013 show.

At the press briefing, Show Chairman Thomas H. Bradley III outlined the changes:

*The show will sharply increase the number of dogs accepted for entry from 2,000 this year to 3,200 next year.

*Dogs will no longer have to be champions to be entered. Eligible dogs will now include dogs that have not earned their championships but have won major points.

*The show will invite pre-entry of all best of breed winners at National Breed Club specialties.

*Next year’s show, to be held Feb. 11-12, will be held at a new location. Daytime breed judging and benching will take place at Piers 92/94 in New York City, located at West 55th Street and the West Side Highway, to accommodate the larger entry.

*Judging of Group and Best in Show will continue to be held both  Monday and Tuesday evenings next year at the longtime venue, Madison Square Garden.

Bradley said the top five dogs in each breed in breed point standings will continue to be invited to pre-enter, as in the past.

Due to the ongoing renovation of Madison Square Gardens the show had to limit the entry this year to 2,000 champion dogs. “We had to turn away 800 entries,’’ Bradley said, acknowledging that number had never been revealed before. “We think these changes will only improve the show.’’

Asked if having two venues would be more expensive for the Westminster club to put on the show, Bradley smiled and simply said “Yes.’’ “We gave him an unlimited budget and he exceeded it,’’ joked David Frei, sitting nearby, the voice of Westminster and communications director for the club.

The club emphasized it looked forward to maintaining a relationship with Madison Square Garden, which dates back to when it was held in Gilmore’s Garden, predecessor to Madison Square Garden, in 1877-78-79.

“We take great pride in our relationship with the world’s greatest sporting arena,’’ said Westminster President Peter R. Van Brunt in a statement.

ERNIE SLONE is editor of DOG FANCY and DogChannel.com, and Group Editor of Dogs in Review and Dog World.

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