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(Adds winner of working dog group)
By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) - A 6-year-old German wirehaired pointer that came in as the top-ranked dog in the United States won best in group for sporting dogs at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday, eliminating the Labrador retriever once again.
The German wirehaired named Oakley advanced to the best in show competition later on Tuesday along with a Portuguese water dog named Matisse, which won the working dog group, representing generally the biggest dogs in the show.
The 20-month-old Matisse - the same breed as the dog owned by President Barack Obama's family - upset a Doberman pincher that had been ranked third in the country and a kuvasz that had been ranked seventh.
"This dog has a certain charisma, a certain arrogance about him," said Matisse's handler, Michael Scott.
Oakley and Matisse will compete with five other finalists - including the best terrier, which had yet to be chosen - later on Tuesday for best in show.
The Labrador retriever, America's most popular dog breed, was no match for Oakley, which has won 87 best in show titles. Oakley was the No. 1 ranked dog in the United States in terms of points earned in other dog shows.
"He's a once-in-a-lifetime dog. I've been handling dogs over 25 years and he's one that comes along not so often," said handler Phil Booth, who lives with the dog in Fowlerville, Michigan. "You've got to have a dog with some heart."
On Monday, an athletic American foxhound, a little black affenpinscher, a fluffy white bichon frise and a shaggy old English sheepdog won best in group in the hound, toy, non-sporting and herding groups, respectively.
More than 2,700 dogs competed over two days. Contenders represent all 50 U.S. states, organizers said, and there are more than 100 foreign entries from countries such as Brazil, Croatia, France and Japan.
The buzz surrounding this year's show had been about whether a Labrador retriever could finally win best in show with Westminster judges.
The Labrador has been the most popular pure bred dog in the United States for the last 22 years, according to American Kennel Club registration statistics.
Hopes had been resting on a 3-year-old Labrador retriever named Kiefer, which beat out 53 other Labradors to win best of breed but failed to get a second call-back in judging against other sporting dogs.
One Labrador expert said she suspected that the dogs suffer from being described as "goofy, sturdy, big working dogs," unlike some of the sleeker, flashier breeds.
"Look at that pointer over there. You can tell it can run 100 miles per hour just by looking at its body," said Robin Anderson, of Seekonk, Massachusetts.
Anderson is editor of the Labrador Retriever Club newsletter and is a breeder-owner with five Labradors at this year's show.
"A Labrador goes in the ring and its tongue is hanging out on one side and it's galumphing along," she said. "You love it, but you don't think of it as a show dog." (Editing by Daniel Trotta and Christopher Wilson)