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A hairy dog story


Behind the scenes at the Westminster Kennel Club show

February 15, 1996
Web posted at: 7:15 a.m EST

From Correspondent Jeanne Moos

NEW YORK (CNN) -- He's the top dog in the canine world. Brady, or Ch. Clussexx Country Sunrise, trotted home with the best-in-show honors Tuesday night at the Westminster Kennel Club's 120th Annual Show. But the 4 year-old white and tan-spotted clumber spaniel wasn't the only pooch putting on the dog. If you're a poodle, the Westminster show can be hair raising.


They may look like society ladies caught in curlers but they are the super models of the dog world. They get the same treatment top hairdressers give their clients; from the perfect trim to clouds of hair spray and yes, even make-up.

"(Poodles are) a very glamorous dog," says a groomer at the show. Yeah? Tell that to the boxer who stared as if he'd spotted an alien when he ran into Rosie the poodle at the dog show restroom.

Poodles are perched everywhere in various phases of primping. Some even had little bundled baggies all over their heads to keep the dog's mounds of hair out of their mouths and prevent the hair from breaking. Bet Cindy Crawford doesn't use those.

And the glamour doesn't end with the poodles. Even a down to Earth basset hound gets to wear sequined ear gear.

The poodles are judged in three size categories: toy, miniature and standard.

What sets the poodles apart is their haircut, the two main cuts being the English saddle and the continental.

And when handlers, groomers and owners talk of these poofy creatures, they use some fairly unusual jargon possibly tossed around at a General Motors plant. One poodle had "a pretty rear end assembly," one woman observed.

poodle rear

The fur puffs on the legs are known as bracelets and the ones on the rear are known as rosettes. And the ball on the end of one poodle's tail stands at attention because "he's trained to keep it up."

Of course, the poodles aren't the only strange looking creatures at the Westminster Dog Show. The Chinese Crested is pretty weird, too. But poodle owners are used to people shaking their heads and saying, "Oh my God why did you do that dog that way?"

The answer is you have to if you want to show them, though the haircut is enough to cause confusion about which end is which.

And what does Rosie look like when she's just lounging around the house? "Like an unmade bed," her owner says.

poodle groom

Getting the hair organized is half the battle. Though the use of a foreign substance such as hairspray is technically not allowed, it is a rule everybody ignores.

And spray they do. Often. One groomer confesses that she spends three days grooming her dog and 10 minutes grooming herself.

And after all of that fluffing, arranging, and spraying, it's showtime. Just before they spring out onto the course, paws are sprayed so that the poodles won't slip on the carpet.

Rosie brought in best-in-breed and was promptly doused with more hairspray to prep her for her for the official photograph. But she's got that look in her eye. One that says, "Boy, I can't wait to get home and roll in the yard."



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