Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Welcome to Dogs in Donut Coats Deadspin's seventh annual coverage of the Westminster Dog Show, featuring a dog in a donut coat. If you're only here for the dogs in donut coats, you can leave now, because there are no more. Otherwise: welcome. Donut-coatless dogs are within.

Click through the photos to navigate.

I've been doing this a long time. It was way back in 2007 when I blew off a J-School assignment to take pictures of adorable show dogs, and somehow sold it to Leitch for a hundred bucks. I've seen just about everything—dogs, dogs barking, dogs pooping, it really runs the gamut—but this year's edition brought some wholesale changes to Westminster. For one, the Northeast blizzard tied up local airports, meaning some champion dogs couldn't make it in to New York for what's basically Canine Fashion Week.

But the biggest change is the venue: for the first time in Westminster's 137-year history, the show is not being held at Madison Square Garden.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

The first Westminster, in 1877, was held on land that actually predated the first Madison Square Garden. But the current and fourth iteration of MSG is undergoing renovations that make it impossible to cram thousands of dogs and owners and handlers and fans into the arena's belly, so a temporary space was needed.

Breed judging for this year's dog show (the primetime best-in-group and best-in-show will still be held at MSG) is happening at Piers 92 and 94, a cruise ship terminal/exhibition space, on Manhattan's far west side. (Last time I was here, I was sailing to Bermuda. The dog show crowd is vaguely reminiscent of cruisers—similarly cornfed, similarly big hair, similarly bedazzled jeans.)

It is inconvenient (though there are shuttle buses from the three main pet hotels in Midtown), it is less glamorous, but the Piers are still better than MSG in almost every conceivable way.

There is space! There is natural light! No longer is the benching area, where the dogs wait before and after their judging, a dim, airless, doggie Dachau. You can now walk around without worrying about stepping on tails or children. The dogs have plenty of room for a jaunt to burn off any nervous energy. And wait 'til you see this...

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

The bathrooms are outside now! No more peeing indoors, like a common cat. No more sticking the waste pens in unvented corners, causing the whole benching area to smell like pee and wood chips. Specific "bitches in season" pens are still here, which is probably a good holdoverpoo.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Top 10 Sexiest Dogs Of Westminster: A Slideshow

Actually, this is the only piece of boudoir photography I was able to get. I'm quite proud of it though. A poodle gazes sensually toward us, framed by a perfect pair of poodle butt pads in the foreground. Do zoophiles like dog shows? Do they view them with a completely different eye than we do? These are dangerous questions.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Sorry, this is the last sexy dog photo, I swear.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Holy shit, this dog was standing on two legs! Haha! Silly dog, dogs walk on four legs. That's what makes you dogs. Unless this is the start of a major evolutionary change, and we're about to lose the one thing that sets us apart as humans. Sure, we're the masters now. But what happens when the dogs can reach the light switch? What then?

(Note: lots of dogs at Westminster were able to stand on two legs. I considered panicking, but decided it was most likely that the Tibetan Spaniel here had taught them all how to do it. So nothing to fear yet. Get bent, Lamarck.)

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

This one's for the internet.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

And here's a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Cute, no? Expressive face, soulful eyes, comically oversized ears. Perfectly hilarious. Yet for whatever reason, the internet has decided that only the Pembroke Welsh Corgis are acceptable for memehood. Wonder why. Probably racism.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Also racist: most dogs' names. I get the temptation to play up your dog's ethnicity, but seemingly every breed that originated in another country is given a name from that culture. This Chihuahu's name is Paco. I met an Icelandic Sheepdog named Leifur. Even the Tibetan Spaniel above was named Tenzing. I'm not sure dogs are ever going to fully assimilate into American culture. I bet they don't even bark English in the home.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

If you're the depressive or mathematical sort, Westminster is all about failure. More than 2,700 dogs flew to New York for the show. Only 187 will win their breeds. Just seven will win their groups. And one, only one, will go home without being eliminated.

When you go to a show, you pretty much only meet the losers. It's largely hands-off the dogs until their time in the ring—too much grooming has gone into them to let them mingle with kids with greasy, snotty hands, and me, also with greasy, snotty hands. Only after they've shown, and lost, do they hang out outside their cages, to be pet and photographed and fussed over. No glory for you, noble Chow friend—only love.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

You too, eager Keeshond. You're a loser.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Speaking of losing, the big story around Westminster this morning was the Wall Street Journal's look at the winless run of the Labrador Retriever. Despite being America's most popular breed, the Lab has never won Best in Show. But you won't find any sympathy from this hairless Chinese Crested—one Lab is guaranteed to at least win its breed.

The Chinese Crested comes in two varieties—hairless, and "powderpuff." They're the same breed, except one has fur everywhere, and one just has it on its feet and head. (Here's a photo of the two, the hairless hilariously wearing a camo vest.) The two compete together, perhaps unfairly—the WKC divides the 13-inch and 15-inch Beagles, for example—and the hairless never wins. Seriously, never.

It's tough to blame the judges. The hairless Chinese Cresteds consistently win the annual World's Ugliest Dog competition, and there's a perfectly furry dog right there to choose instead. But it's hard not to feel bad for the hairless Crested—a victim of in-group predjudice, without the Labrador Retriever PR machine to salvage its image.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Here's another scandal I'm going to blow the roof off of: what the hell is this, USA?

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

You know what no one comes to a cute puppy slideshow for? Words. So from here out I'll dump some photos, sorted into three general categories. First: Dogs With Children.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Dogs Looking Perturbed About Being Groomed.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Finally: Tired Puppies Sleeping Because They're So Sleepy, Yes They Are, Yes They Are.

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

Exile In Dogville: Westminster Gets Comfy In Its New HomeS

That's it; more dog show tomorrow.