There are six newly- recognized dog breeds debuting at the Westminster Kennel Club’s 135th Annual All Breed Dog Show in New York City next week. Get to know these pageant pooches and pick your faves for Best in Show!
“Blueticks are scent hounds… they hunt in the swamps of North Carolina,” owner Susan Lloyd DVM shared with me while she positioned Grand Champion Live Oaks My Name is Mike for a photo. She baited him with a treat and added with a laugh, “Mike’s a big goofball… if you have food, he’ll do whatever you want.” According to Susan, bluetick coonhounds are also wonderful with children. “Oh yeah, Mike thinks kids are great… these dogs are very social and laid-back animals.”
Recognized as South Carolina’s state dog since 1985, the boykin spaniel is the only new WKC sporting breed for 2011. “These dogs are the south’s best kept secret,” owner Leslie Kern said, introducing me to Grand Champion Thornhill’s Ring That Jezebelle (call name “Jake”). “This breed is very versatile, focused, willing to please… their origins go back to the early 1900s.” When asked Jake’s strength in the ring, Leslie didn’t hesitate: “Oh, his top line. It’s very level from shoulder to tail – he really fits the breed standard.”
The cane corso is a strong working dog, historically used to guard livestock on family farms. Its origins date back to ancient Roman times. Champion Stanley Pat’s Chopper (above) is an intelligent three and a half year-old male. While his strong jaw, cropped ears and well-muscled body look a little intimidating, he’s actually quite a friendly dog. “We are so excited to be here and competing,” said Joe Hovorka, one of Chopper’s owners. “This is the World Cup… the Super Bowl… it’s been a long time coming. Chopper loves to be at the dog show… his presence is his strength.”
The Icelandic sheepdog is a hardy breed – it arrived in Iceland with the first Viking settlers – with a shiny, weatherproof coat. “This breed is very intelligent,” owner JoAnn told me. Her five year-old Icelandic sheepdog, Champion Isi Kaffisukkolathi (“Kaffi”) loves attention. “The more he gets, the better he is!” JoAnn said. And Kaffi certainly enjoyed posing in the sunlight by the window – she held position for several minutes, watching JoAnn intently for her next command.“Icelandic sheepdogs are friendly, clean… But not for everybody. They do bark a lot. These dogs are used to drive sheep by barking, so they have verbal responses to their surroundings.”
A combination of Newfoundland, Great Pyrenees, and St. Bernard, the Leonberger is perhaps “the best of those breeds,” said owner Jean Boggie. Her dog, Grand Champion Leondomus Gisis Galatea – or “Gigi” for short – is three years old and boasts spectacular soft coat. “These dogs love children. They are great companion animals. And they require less exercise than a golden retriever or a lab!” The leonberger is also known for its intelligence, graceful movements and calm nature.
A gentle hound by nature, the redbone coonhound is also a versatile, skilled hunter. This breed has been around since before the Civil War. “Redbone coonhounds like having a job… they’re primarily used for hunting raccoon or big game at night,” says Christine Smith, owner of Champion Twisted Creek Excellent Adventure. “We call him Rufus… he has a great personality. He enters the room and just shows his presence… like, here I am!” At fourteen months of age, Rufus is a young show contender with a striking red coat.
What’s your favorite of the debut breeds? Who will you be rooting for at Westminster this year?