On January 15, the Westminster Kennel Club announced that for the first time in the Westminster Dog Show‘s 138 year history, mixed breed dogs will mingle with the purebred.
These pooches of unscrutinized ancestry will be competing in the show’s new agility trail, though they won’t be eligible for what many consider to be the night’s main event — the Best in Show award.
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Some animal rights activists have criticized the show and the pure-breeding it stands for — arguing that it’s inhumane to breed dogs for desired traits while millions go unadopted in shelters. Others point out that purebred dogs often suffer from genetic conditions as a result of the traits bred into them.
Enthusiasts argue that preserving dog breeds is important work and helps dog lovers find the dogs best suited to them. It seems many agree the end of an entire breed would be a loss: the potential demise of the Corgi sparked concern all over the internet late last year.
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For their part, the Westminster Dog Show has always claimed to celebrate a love for all dogs. “We’re very excited about the fact that Westminster can play a leadership role in embracing, really, the sport of dogs,” said Westminster President Sean McCarthy.