Westminster Kennel Club hosted its 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship on Saturday, February 13. Held on a day of bone-chilling cold at New York's Pier 94, the event precedes Westminster's 140th Annual All Breed Dog Show on the following Monday and Tuesday. Entry is limited to dogs that have attained Master titles (MX and MXJ, or MXP and MJP) in agility. Entries were comprised of 330 dogs representing 28 states, most coming from New Jersey (81), New York (75), and Connecticut (31).
Westminster welcomes both purebred dogs and mixed breeds in agility competition. The Westminster website explains that includes purebred dogs, mixed breeds registered in the AKC's Canine Partners program, Miscellaneous breeds not yet eligible for conformation competition, Foundation Stock Service recorded breeds, and Purebred Alternative Listing dogs (purebred dogs that cannot be fully registered). Among the most exciting of dog-related spectator sports, the agility competition consists of an obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, a teeter, an A-frame and more. Dogs run off leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler is not allowed to touch the dog. Speed is everything, as the dog has to accomplish all maneuvers within one minute's time.
Agility is a sport where the border collie is the undisputed king. Indeed, the first two years at this Westminster event were both won by border collies.