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c. 1957

Go backstage at the 1957 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Behind-the-scenes photos of dogs with their human families at the famed canine festival.

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 1957: A family sit with their St. Bernards , behind the scenes at the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY in February 1957. (Photo by Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Since 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has put New York City at the center of the canine world. The show is huge, in all senses.. With entrants typically numbering up to 3,000, two whole days are required to simply judge every dog.

Originating with a group meeting of Victorian hunters and their hounds at Manhattan’s Westminster Hotel, the group formed a kennel club for the purposes of creating a show. Early prizes included hunting pistols with handles inlaid with pearl.

So strong is demand today that entry spaces are completely filled on the day they open. At the event itself, dogs compete to be Best of Breed (BOB), the winner of which then competes in one of seven groups—Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. Mixed breeds have been allowed since 2014—but only in an agility event.

And the overall winnner? They are, for a year, “America’s Dog”, and tour the States , including a visit to the viewing deck of the Empire State.

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These rare color photographs taken behind-the-scenes show the anticipation of some of the dogs—and their owners—in February 1957.

Owners groom their dogs backstage.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A couple sit with their collies.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A collie is groomed.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Owners with their St. Bernards behind the scenes.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A line of schnauzers.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A women poses with her dog after Best in Show.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A schnauzer is groomed backstage.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Dogs are groomed backstage.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Women sit with their Great Danes.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A St. Bernard and his family.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Dogs and dinnertime backstage.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A women holds her Afghan hound..
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A young woman looks at her golden retrievers.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A man takes a nap with his Great Dane.
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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