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Miniature poodle named Sage wins Westminster Kennel Club dog show

The best in show winner gets a trophy and a place in dog-world history, but no cash prize.

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Westminster Dog Show

A miniature poodle named Sage won the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, in what veteran handler Kaz Hosaka said would be his final time at the United States’ most prestigious canine event.

Sage notched the 11th triumph for poodles of various sizes at Westminster; only wire fox terriers have won more.

The last miniature poodle to take the trophy was Spice, with Mr Hosaka, in 2002.

Westminster Dog Show
Mercedes, a German shepherd, takes part in the best in show competition (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

Striding briskly and proudly around the ring, the inky-black poodle “gave a great performance for me”, Mr Hosaka added.

Sage bested six other finalists to take best in show. Second went to Mercedes, a German shepherd whose handler, Kent Boyles, also has shepherded a best in show winner before.

Others in the final round included Comet, a shih tzu who won the big American Kennel Club National Championship last year; Monty, a giant schnauzer who arrived at Westminster as the nation’s top-ranked dog and was a Westminster finalist last year; Louis, an Afghan hound; Micah, a black cocker spaniel; and Frankie, a coloured bull terrier.

While Sage was going around the ring, a protester carrying a sign urging people to “boycott breeders” tried to climb in and was quickly intercepted by security personnel.

Police and the animal rights group Peta said three demonstrators were arrested. Charges have not yet been decided.

Westminster Dog Show
Sage, a miniature poodle, competes with handler Kaz Hosaka (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

In an event where all competitors are champions in dog showing’s point system, winning can depend on subtleties and a stand-out turn at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, home of the US Open tennis tournament.

The final line-up was “excellent, glorious”, best in show judge Rosalind Kramer said.

To Monty’s handler and co-owner, Katie Bernardin, “just to be in the ring with everyone else is an honour”.

“We all love our dogs. We’re trying our best,” she said in the ring after Monty’s semi-final win.

Dogs first compete against others of their breed. Then the winner of each breed goes up against others in its “group”. The seven group winners meet in the final round.

The best in show winner gets a trophy and a place in dog-world history, but no cash prize.

The Westminster show, which dates to 1877, centres on the traditional pure-bred judging that leads to the best in show prize. But over the last decade, the club has added agility and obedience events open to mixed-breed dogs.

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