BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The convention center in Biloxi has gone to the dogs. One thousand pooches are facing off in the Pelican Cluster All-Breed Dog Show. The well-manicured canines are a sight to see and so are the competitions.
A Weimaraner practices one of the most important moves at a dog show--the down and back. All the dogs will be judged on how well their appearance represents their breed. And depending on the breed, handlers and/or owners can spend a minimum of 30 minutes to eight hours on grooming. It's a tedious process that happens before their time in front of the judges.
"What you see here is just a minimum of what we do. We groom the dogs at home. There's a lot of work at home. They obviously have to have their special diet. And they get exercise. They run on the treadmill just like we do," said Professional Dog Handler Ryan Wolf of Indiana.
Wolf said he spends as much as 20 hours a week preparing a dog for a show like the Pelican Cluster, which consists of the Riverside West Kennel Club of Greater New Orleans and the Northlake Kennel Club of Covington.
This year the show included a new addition called the owner-handler series.
"Owner-handlers are the back bone of the American Kennel Club. These are the people that breed the dog, deliver the puppies and show the dog when the time comes," said Public Relations Chair for the Pelican Cluster Dog Show Carol Grotton.
From the smallest breeds like a five-pound Smooth Chihuahua to the tallest dog breed in the world--the Irish Wolf Hound, Grotton said the wide range of breeds at the show make this a sight to see for all canine enthusiasts.
This show also features rare and newly accepted breeds by the AKC.
"You've got two new breeds that have come in this year, we have the Wirehaired Vizsla and we also have the Coton de Tulear," said Grotton.
Around 20 of the dogs at the show are ranked in the top 10 of their breeds and every last pooch in the Pelican Cluster fought hard to go back to its kennel with the coveted "Best In Show".
The winner of Best in Show is a Mastiff with the number five and Reserve Best in Show went to a Whippet carrying the number 20. The show goes on this Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Organizers said dog shows are also open to junior handlers between the ages of 9 to 18 years old. They are judged on their handling skills and don't have to own a dog to become a handler. AKC offers up to $100,000 in scholarships to junior handlers each year. Any child interested in becoming a handler should contact their local dog kennel club. They include: The Biloxi Kennel Club, Pearl River Kennel Club, MS Gulf Coast Kennel Club and the Mobile Kennel Club.