This year, for the first time ever, mutts — formally dubbed “all American dogs” — will be allowed to participate in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show on Feb. 8. The nation’s premiere canine event has a long history of only allowing purebreds to compete, the Associated Press reports.
Mutts will join the purebreds in the First Masters Agility Championship, a skills-based competition that’s “all about brains — brains and speed,” show chairman Tom Bradley said at a news conference Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. “Agility dogs are not designer dogs — or they don’t have to be.”
The change may have come as a response to animal rights supporters who argue that promoting dog breeding is unethical. Many mutts need to find homes — 60 percent of dogs in shelters are euthanized — and should be promoted as desirable pets. While Bradley would not say whether such criticism of the show drove their decision, he did admit that “purebred dogs have taken a bit of a rap” recently.