A York area dog has an opportunity to be named best in show at this year's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Champion Palacegarden Malachy, a 4-year-old male Pekingese owned by Iris Love of East Berlin, won the toy group Monday night at the 136th annual show at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Malachy the Peke drew cheers that grew louder with every tiny step Monday night and repeated as the top toy at the Westminster Kennel Club event. Pink tongue peeking out from his black face, he beat a prize affenpinscher called Banana Joe in a competitive group.

"He doesn't run. He has a dignified Pekingese gait," handler David Fitzpatrick said.

The pooch was named best in breed during the first day for competition, said spokesman Steve Griffith.

Malachy also has 114 best in show ribbons on his resume, and is aiming to add this title. His early work done here, he rested on a cool pack after competing.

Watch live: Four group winners were decided Monday, and the remaining three will be decided Tuesday. The seven group winners compete against one another for Best in Show honors about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Judging for Best in Show will be shown live on the USA Network.

A black cocker spaniel that was the No. 1 show dog last year could give Malachy a run for the title.

But the spaniel, named Beckham, already has an omen on his side. A 12-story ad featuring soccer star David Beckham posing in his underwear is painted on a building that overlooks the Garden.

Beckham the dog, by the way, beat out Malachy as the country's top-winning show dog in 2011.

Another local pooch could also be joining Malachy in the best in show competition.

Tanner, a 6-year-old Bernese mountain dog, is slated to compete in his breed category at noon on Tuesday.

If he wins his group, he'll go on to the best in show competition.

Tanner, owned by Dawn Cox of Hanover, is retiring after the show.

While out of the competition, Nathan, an English toy spaniel, owned by Bonnie Miller of Spring Grove walked away with an honor Monday. Nathan, whose show name is Grand Champion Sanchi Chocopologie, received an award of merit.

- Reach Greg Gross at 505-5434, ggross@yorkdispatch.com, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/greggrss.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.