Mary Ellen Shriver's Irish wolfhounds are bigger than she is.

During competition at York's seventh annual Celtic Classic Dog Show, Shriver and her son presented their three wolfhounds — two females and one male. Full-grown males tend to weigh close to 170 pounds, she said.

As she brought the 10-month-old male, Finn, around the ring, his gait was horselike, and his nose nearly reached up to her chest.

Although the massive dogs need their exercise, they just hang in the house like big rugs, Shriver said.

"They're very laid-back," she said.

The show: Chelsea, one of the two females, won Best of Breed Wednesday for the Irish wolfhounds. Each day of the show, judges choose a winner from each breed and a winner for the whole show.

Shriver, of Schnecksville, Pa., has been showing dogs for 25 years and always makes sure she comes to the Celtic Classic.

"Because it's the biggest, the best," she said. "The people are so kind."

Aside from the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York, it's the second largest dog show on the East Coast, said Jeff Moore, vice president of the York Kennel Club. The club runs the show along with the Lancaster and Delaware County kennel clubs.

This year's show runs through Sunday and features more than 7,800 dogs from 152 breeds — and there will be 2,800 dogs on Saturday alone, Moore said.

Misconceptions: With groups of pugs, Dalmatians and golden retrievers everywhere, you'd think the Celtic Classic would be a dog-lover's dream. But many people have misconceptions about dog shows, Moore said.

"The atmosphere of this dog show is different than what people would perceive," he said.

First of all, the event is family-oriented and open to the public, with free parking and admission, Moore said. The show presents people who are interested in getting a dog with valuable resources: After their shows, breeders are usually willing to talk about specific breeds, he said.

"They can meet the breeders, and they can actually see what the dogs look like," he said.

That can prevent personality clashes between dogs and owners — herding breeds aren't for everyone — and ultimately keep dogs out of shelters, Moore said.

And the show dogs aren't mistreated or locked up in crates all day: They're pampered, well-fed and get plenty of exercise, he said.

After all, the main purpose of the show is to determine the best specimens to reproduce and keep a breed going, Moore said.

Passion: Lisa Miller, 56, of Mechanicsville, Md., has been involved in shows since she was 7 and showing great Danes in the junior division, she said.

Now, she breeds champion American foxhounds. One female, Jewel, was the top hound in the country for two years and won Best of Breed at this year's Westminster Dog Show.

"It was top notch," she said. "It was really good, high-quality dogs. Some of the best in the country." Miller will show her foxhounds through the duration of the Celtic Classic, which is "exhibitor-friendly," with a spacious grooming area and lots of room for her precious pups to run outside, she said.

"This is a passion for all of us," Miller said. "Our heart and soul's in every one of those dogs."

The show, which takes place each year around St. Patrick's Day, will continue through Sunday at the York Expo Center, 334 Carlisle Ave.

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.