Why Did They Change The Location Of The Westminster Dog Show?


The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is one of the oldest and most prestigious dog shows in the world. It was founded in 1877 by a group of sporting gentlemen and held at the Westminster Hotel in New York City, which gave the show its name. The first Westminster Dog Show lasted for three days and drew over 1200 dogs representing 32 breeds. Over the years, Westminster became the longest continuously held sporting event in America, aside from the Kentucky Derby.

For the first 115 years, the Westminster Dog Show was primarily held at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. The event changed locations a few times in the early years, including a stint at the original Madison Square Garden, but by 1920 it found a permanent home at MSG. The Westminster Dog Show enjoyed an impressive 105-year run at this iconic venue in the heart of New York City.

Madison Square Garden

For over a century, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. MSG, as it’s commonly called, has been the home of the event since 1880 with only rare interruptions. This iconic indoor arena is known for hosting major sporting events and concerts in addition to serving as the primary venue for the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, and St. John’s basketball.

exterior view of madison square garden arena in new york city

According to BizBash, Madison Square Garden has a maximum capacity of 20,000 for events. The layout features an arena bowl with tiered seating levels and luxury suites. Amenities include a state-of-the-art sound system, strobe lights, and advanced technology offerings. MSG is conveniently located above Penn Station in midtown Manhattan.

Reasons for Leaving MSG

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show had called Madison Square Garden home for over a century, but in 2021 organizers decided it was time for a change. The primary factors that led to leaving MSG were issues with the outdated facilities, scheduling conflicts, and lack of adequate space for the growing event.

Madison Square Garden, despite renovations over the years, struggled to provide the modern amenities required for a high-profile dog show. As reported by ABC News, “the lack of air conditioning created uncomfortable conditions” (1). The cramped surroundings also made it difficult to properly showcase each breed and provide comfortable rest areas for the dogs.

The Garden’s busy event schedule further complicated matters. Westminster’s usual February date conflicted with the venue’s preparations for the Westminster Masters tennis tournament. Organizers had to consider moving the show to accommodate this scheduling issue according to Good Morning America (2). Additionally, the lack of available setup and tear-down time reduced the show quality.

Finally, the limited space prevented the show from expanding. SI.com reported Westminster required “twice as much space” (3) to appropriately showcase over 200 breeds. The cramped quarters disappointed exhibitors and prevented the event from growing.

New Home at Lyndhurst Estate

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show announced in 2022 that starting in 2023, the show would move to the historic Lyndhurst estate in Tarrytown, New York after over a century at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Lyndhurst is a grand Gothic Revival mansion located in Tarrytown, New York, overlooking the Hudson River. It was originally built in 1838 as the country home of wealthy New York City merchant William Paulding. The estate was later owned by railroad tycoon Jay Gould and his family. Today, Lyndhurst is a National Historic Landmark operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and open to the public as a house museum (https://lyndhurst.org/).

lyndhurst mansion house museum where westminster will be held starting 2023

The Lyndhurst mansion is set on 67 acres of parkland and features expansive lawns, formal gardens, and picturesque views of the Hudson River. The mansion has over 60 rooms, including a library, music room, and grand dining room. The estate offers ample indoor and outdoor event space to accommodate the Westminster Dog Show.

Benefits of Lyndhurst

The move to Lyndhurst Estate provides the Westminster Dog Show with a number of benefits over its previous Madison Square Garden location. Most notably, Lyndhurst offers significantly more space and better amenities to accommodate the large scale event.

With its sprawling 67 acres of land, Lyndhurst can comfortably accommodate the huge crowds and wide array of activities involved in the Westminster Dog Show. This gives both human and canine participants more room to operate. There is space for multiple competition rings, vendor booths, spectator seating, and exercise areas for the dogs. Madison Square Garden’s constrained space led to crowded conditions.

Additionally, Lyndhurst provides updated amenities like air conditioning that Madison Square Garden lacked. The large indoor exhibition hall at Lyndhurst features temperature control, ensuring comfort for dogs, handlers, and spectators. Lyndhurst also offers on-site parking and picturesque outdoor spaces that allow the Westminster Dog Show to utilize unique settings.

Taking advantage of Lyndhurst’s beautiful outdoor landscapes, many key events like the agility competition and Meet the Breeds can occur outside with scenic backdrops. The estate’s stunning architecture and historic gardens provide an unparalleled backdrop for photography and filming opportunities as well.

Overall, Lyndhurst’s increased capacity, improved amenities, and one-of-a-kind outdoor setting offer significant upgrades over Madison Square Garden that benefit all participants.

Reaction to Venue Change

The move from Madison Square Garden to the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, NY for the 2023 Westminster Dog Show has elicited mixed reactions from organizers, handlers, and attendees of the prestigious event.

Westminster Kennel Club President Charlton Reynders III acknowledged some pushback against the change but emphasized the benefits, saying “While we understand those longer-standing members who enjoyed the convenience of having the dog show in Manhattan, we’re committed to keeping the show accessible to the public and we’re excited that we’ve found a new location that will provide attendees with an expansive and unique backdrop” (AP News).

professional dog handlers competing at westminster dog show

Professional handlers had mixed views, with some lamenting the loss of the iconic MSG venue. “It takes away from the spectacle of Westminster to move it somewhere else” said handler Beth Sweigart (AP News). However, others welcomed a change of scenery. “I’m looking forward to it. It will be nice to have a change” shared handler Gabriel Rangel (AP News).

Overall, while the change from the traditional MSG location initially gave some pause, many attendees now express an openness and even excitement about experiencing Westminster’s storied competitions in the new pastoral setting that Lyndhurst Estate promises to provide.

Impact on Future Shows

The venue change from Madison Square Garden to the outdoor Lyndhurst Estate will have significant impacts on the layout, scheduling, and activities of future Westminster Dog Shows.

With an outdoor venue like Lyndhurst, the show will need to account for weather conditions in scheduling and operations. The event may need to have contingent indoor facilities or scheduling adjustments in case of rain or extreme temperatures (Source). Organizers will likely schedule the show during more temperate times of year.

The expansive outdoor layout at Lyndhurst allows for more spacing between judging rings and amenities like vending booths. However, the event may need elevated platforms or bleachers so spectators can view the judging areas. The green space also allows for dog demonstrations, meet and greets with breeds, and other engaging activities for attendees (Source).

With thoughtful planning and preparation, the Lyndhurst Estate offers opportunities to enhance future Westminster Dog Shows for dogs, owners, and spectators alike.

Looking Ahead

The Westminster Kennel Club has confirmed that the Westminster Dog Show will continue to be held at Lyndhurst in the upcoming years. According to the Westminster Kennel Club’s website, Lyndhurst will be the location for the show through at least 2024. The contract currently states the show will remain at Lyndhurst through the 148th Annual Westminster Dog Show in 2024.

the westminster dog show logo

The Westminster Kennel Club seems committed to keeping the show at its new location at Lyndhurst estate for the foreseeable future. In an interview with ShowSight Magazine, Westminster Kennel Club President Charlton Reynders III said “Lyndhurst will be the home of Westminster for years to come.” The venue has provided an ideal setting and space for the various components of the Westminster Dog Show.

Many expect Lyndhurst to continue hosting the Westminster Dog Show well beyond 2024 if the arrangement continues to work smoothly. The contract periods will likely be renewed and extended. According to The Journal News, Reynders said “As long as they’ll have us, we plan on staying.” The Lyndhurst estate seems pleased to host the prestigious dog show for the foreseeable future.

Recapping Key Factors

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show had called Madison Square Garden its home for over a century before deciding to move the historic event in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With large crowds banned from indoor arenas in New York City, holding the prestigious dog show at MSG was not feasible.

The primary factors that led to the venue change include:

  • COVID-19 restrictions made MSG unavailable for large events like Westminster in 2020 and 2021 (https://abc7ny.com/westminster-dog-show-moves-us-open-tennis-tournament/12418530/)
  • Outdoor space was required to allow for social distancing of spectators and participants (https://www.si.com/more-sports/2021/06/14/westminster-dog-show-2021-outside-challenges)
  • Lyndhurst Estate provided a spacious outdoor venue with room for rings, benches, and vendors (https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/living/story/westminster-dog-show-moved-madison-square-garden-1st-73785431)

While the move was unexpected after a century at MSG, the Lyndhurst Estate allowed Westminster to continue safely during the pandemic. It remains to be seen whether the show will return to MSG in future years once COVID restrictions ease.


In conclusion, the decision to move the Westminster Dog Show from Madison Square Garden to Lyndhurst Estate was an important one to ensure the future success of this prestigious event. While leaving MSG ended a longtime tradition, the benefits of the new outdoor venue with its beautiful grounds and historic mansion backdrop have provided an enhanced experience for dogs and spectators alike.

With the show established at Lyndhurst for 2022 and the years ahead, organizers can focus on continuously improving the event. Dog lovers around the world look forward to seeing their favorite breeds compete amidst the rolling hills and gardens of Lyndhurst Estate. As the Westminster Dog Show embarks on this new chapter at a new home, the competition is sure to remain one of the greatest dog shows on earth.

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