Dogs' digs at the Garden: Westminster show returning to Madison Square Garden next year

NEW YORK (AP) — Madison Square Garden is going back to the dogs.

The Westminster Kennel Club announced this week that its storied dog show is returning next year to the Manhattan arena for the first time since 2020. That year's show was held weeks before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and shutdowns began in New York City and across the United States.

For various reasons, the annual canine contest has since been held at an estate in suburban Westchester and at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens. But organizers have wanted to return to Manhattan and to the so-called World's Most Famous Arena, the dog show's home for nearly all of the event's 148 years.

The 2025 show will begin with an agility competition Feb. 8 at the sprawling Javits Center convention venue, a few blocks from Madison Square Garden. The traditional breed-by-breed contest that leads to the best in show trophy will unfold on Feb. 10 and 11, with preliminary-round judging at the Javits Center during daytime hours and the semifinals and finals at night at the Garden.

“As Westminster approaches its 150th anniversary in 2026, we could not be more excited to welcome our celebration of the world’s top canines, as well as our incredible fan base, back to this global stage,” club President Donald Sturz said in a statement.

About 3,000 canines compete in the various events at Westminster, which is considered the most prestigious U.S. dog show.

This year's winner was a miniature poodle named Sage, while a border collie-papillion mix called Nimble became the first mixed-breed winner in the agility trial.