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Improve your Westminster dog show 2019 knowledge, including how to meet the furry competitors

The show is back with 2,800 dogs, including two new breeds and so much cute. 

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show's 2018 Best in

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show's 2018 Best in Show winner Flynn, a Bichon Frise, poses for photos. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

Across three days, about 2,800 canines are converging in midtown Manhattan for the 143rd Westminster Kennel Dog Show. That's 76 Dachshunds, 48 French Bulldogs, 47 Labrador retrievers, 53 Bernese Mountain Dogs —and more cuteness than we can fathom.

Yes, the judging is serious business, but for those of us watching, Feb. 9, 11 and 12 provide a furry feast for the eyes.

Here's what you should know ahead of the show, including some highlights to watch out for.

Can I meet the dogs? Yes. You can meet the dogs competing in the Masters Agility Championship's preliminary rounds from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Piers 92/94 on Saturday, Feb. 9, in addition to some of the purebreds competing for best in breed on Monday and Tuesday during the Meet the Breeds event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Or, head back to the piers on Feb. 11 and 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., to meet even more canine ambassadors, as the representatives of 100-some breeds strut it out in the ring to determine which move on to the group showings at Madison Square Garden that night.

Cat fans are welcome too. There will be cat agility demonstrations for the third year in a row.

Tickets are $32.

When can I watch the championship? Feb. 11 and 12 is when the show really gets down to business. You can purchase tickets for day (at Piers 92/94) and evening sessions (at Madison Square Garden).

Feb. 11 

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: The breed judging of hound, toy, non-sporting and herding groups; the junior (children's) showmanship preliminaries; and the Masters Obedience Championship;

Noon to 1 p.m.: Dog Show 101, which evaluates breeding stock;

7:30 to 11:30 p.m.: Group judging of hound, toy, non-sporting and herding groups.

Feb. 12

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: The breed judging across sporting, working and terrier groups; junior (children's) showmanship preliminaries;

Noon to 1 p.m.: Dog Show 101 Presentation

7 to 11:30 p.m.: Junior showmanship finals; group judging of sporting, working and terrier groups; and Best in Show.

You can find tickets here.

What's new this year? Two breeds — seven  Dutch Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes in the sporting group and eight French Grand Bassett Griffon Vendeéns in the hound group — make their debut.

Are there any local dogs competing? Yes, 17 of them are New York City residents and represent several breeds such as a Toy Poodle, the newly recognized Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeens, a Portuguese water dog, a Bearded Collie and more. We spoke to the owner of four Cocker Spaniels from Staten Island and the Williamsburg-based owner of a Basenji about how they're preparing for the show.

Who gets to select the Best in Show winner? That's Peter Green of Pennsylvania. He's an owner, a breeder of terriers and professional handler who has been in the industry since 1946, when he showed dogs as a boy. He's won Best in Show with his terriers four times at Westminster and Best in Show at Crufts, the largest dog show in the world, in 2005. He retired in 2006 to begin his judging career and has mentored many top-winning handlers. This is his 10th judging assignment at Westminster.

Can I bring my dog? No. We know your dog is the best good boy in the city, but unless he's a service dog or in the show himself, he cannot attend.

Can I buy merch? Yes, there will be 27 vendors selling official kennel club merchandise in addition to fine art, jewelry, accessories for dogs, gifts featuring various breeds, and much more. Your dog will thank you.

How can I watch from home? You can watch the Masters Agility Championship preliminaries on Saturday from 8 to 4 p.m. live on westminsterkennelclub.org and the finals repeated on Fox from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

Then on Monday and Tuesday, you can catch the activities live on Fox Sports GO and on WKC's website from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

From 1 to 4 p.m., Nat Geo WILD will air the show from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 11 p.m., competitions will be live on FS1 (Fox Sports). Here's the schedule.

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