Six new dog breeds now approved for competition by the American Kennel Club will make their Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show debut this year.
The Hound Group welcomes the American English Coonhound. When wealthy land owners came to the new world, they also brought their love of hunting. The English Foxhounds that made the trek over to the US were not as adept at traversing the rougher terrain, so they were bred to the local Virginian Hounds, which were derived from French and Irish hounds previously brought over. Eventually Bloodhounds were introduced into the lineage to sharpen the breed’s sense of smell. The resulting American English Coonhound breed became famed for its ability to hunt both day and night. Its hard, medium-length coat can be ticked red or blue and white, tricolored, red and white or black and white. These dogs range from 23 to 26 inches in height and are built for speed and endurance. The breed is eager to please, ready to work and has a loud, baying bark.
The Cesky Terrier (pronounced “chess-key”) is the only new addition to the Terrier Group this year. The breed was developed by a Czech geneticist who desired to combine the best features of the Scottish Terrier with the Sealyham Terrier — the Scottie’s dark color with the Sealyham’s drop ears and willingness to work with other dogs — to achieve the ultimate working terrier. He also wanted a smaller dog that could go to ground easier and have a silky coat that could be clipped rather than hand-stripped. Previously named the Bohemian Terrier, the breed entered the show ring for the first time in 1959 and was renamed Cesky Terrier in 1963.
Entering the Herding Group is the Entlebucher Mountain Dog. This bobtailed, tricolor breed is the smallest of the four Swiss Mountain Dog breeds. Between 16 to 21 inches in height, what the Entlebucher may lack in size, it makes up for in confidence, a high energy level and loyalty to his master. Entlebuchers remain active dogs their entire life and their guardian instincts make them unsuitable for novice dog owners. The breed needs to be socialized and obedience trained at an early age. Historically used as a farm dog and herder, Entlebuchers excel at agility and other canine sports.
The Finnish Lapphund is other addition to the Herding Group. Originally used by the Sami, a nomadic people who inhabited northern Scandinavia, the Finnish Lapphund was used to herd reindeer. After World War II, the Scandinavian countries’ interest in saving the native dog breeds began to grow and the first breed standard was accepted by the Finnish Kennel Club in 1945. Because it was developed to work outside near the Arctic Circle, the Finnish Lapphund has thick, dense, soft fur and does not do well in hot weather. The breed sheds seasonally, but this can be handled with regular brushing. It is very docile and friendly with an endearing expression and makes a good family dog. The Finnish Lapphund is also alert and loud, so it makes an excellent watchdog. Excessive barking can be handled with training.
The first of two Non-Sporting Group additions is the Norwegian Lundehund. This unique breed has several features that make it easy to spot such as six toes on each foot; prick ears that can close, fold forward or backward at will; and the ability to tilt their head far enough backward to touch their back bone. These qualities helped the Norwegian Lundehund hunt Puffin in the cliffs of arctic Norway. As the Puffin became a protected species of bird, the Norwegian Lundehund’s numbers began to dwindle until it was saved from extinction after World War II. The breed is known to have a pleasant, alert and sometimes mischievous nature.
The second of the new Non-Sporting Group entrants is the Xoloitzcuintli, (pronounced “show-low-eats-queen-tlee”). Although mostly seen hairless, the breed also comes in a coated variety as well as in three different sizes — toy, miniature and standard. One of the world’s oldest breeds, it was revered by ancient Aztecs who used the breed’s warm skin for healing purposes and believed the dog could defend against evil spirits. The Xoloitzcuintli’s long evolution without human manipulation has made it a loyal companion that is alert, highly trainable and known for its cleanliness. The breed is also the national dog of Mexico.