Finally, Mutts Can Compete in Westminster Dog Show

Kennel Club reverses long-standing prohibition

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Seth Wenig / AP

Levi, a rat terrier, touches noses with Joy L'Ecuyer during a news conference in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. The rat terrier is one of three new breeds that will be competing at the 138th Westminster Dog Show starting Feb. 10, 2014

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.