“The wide-open outdoor space at this extraordinary venue allows us to hold a dog show safely while following current social distancing guidelines and public health regulations,” Westminster’s president, Charlton Reynders III, said in a statement.
Many of the specifics of next year’s show, from the setup of the judging areas to whether fans will be allowed to attend, remain unclear, given the continuing spread of the coronavirus and the fluidity of health recommendations and rules to fight it. In other leading shows held outdoors, competition areas are sometimes set up in large tents without sides. In any event, the vast collection of antique furniture inside Lyndhurst’s iconic castle — which is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation — will, presumably, remain off-limits, even to champions.
The change in venue, which was made possible when two other shows agreed to surrender the June dates, will allow the Westminster show to extend a continuous run that dates to 1877, and includes 100 years of shows at various iterations of Madison Square Garden. Only the Kentucky Derby, which was first run in 1875 and crowns a horse, not a dog, as its champion, has had a longer run among American sporting events.
Westminster also announced Wednesday that three new breeds would enter the competition in 2021: the Barbet (“the archetype water dog of France”) in the sporting group; the Belgian Laekenois (“an affectionate, alert and intelligent dog bred to herd and guard flocks and fields”) in the herding group; and the Dogo Argentino (“bred to find, chase and catch dangerous game”), which will join the working group and captain the kennel club’s soccer team. (OK, that last part isn’t true.)
The additions will join the 208 eligible breeds competing for best in show.