Empire StateOn February 16 and 17, the top of New York City’s Empire State Building will be lit in purple. This is in honor of the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

The Westminster was started in 1876 as a club for gentlemen who hunted with their sporting dogs. It was named after their favorite hotel – the Westminster – where they held their meetings. The first show was held in New York City in 1877. The entry fee was $2.00, and that included food.

2015 marks the 139th anniversary of the Westminster. The only U.S. sporting event that has been around longer is the Kentucky Derby. And, this year, you can also cheer on two breeds, making their debut.

wire haired vizslaThe first is the wirehaired vizsla (VEEZ-shlah), a rugged hunter that will compete in the sporting group. Heavy and with a brushy coat that camouflages into the countryside, vizslas are able to withstand icy winters and the rough terrain of their native Hungary, Nearly extinct during World War II, the breed was redeveloped behind the Iron Country. The word, “vizsla” is Hungarian for quick.

The second newcomer is the Coton de Tulear (Koh-TOHN duTOO-lay-ahr). Coton Coton is French for cotton, and these happy-go-lucky balls of fluff were named in French for the port city of Tulear in Madagascar.  Prized by nobles, they were also used to rid ships of rats. Cotons are considered to be hypoallergenic and their easy-going nature makes them family favorites. This year you will see them competing in the non-sporting group.

You can catch the Westminster live on February 16, from 8 to 11 PM, on CNBC. And on February 17, from 8 to 11 PM, on USA network. See how the two newbies (or your favorite breeds) do.  And learn more about the winner on the next “Mutts”.