7 New Breeds to Compete in 2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Recently, the Westminster Kennel Club announced the seven new dog breeds that will compete in next year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, one of the most famous dog shows in the world. These seven new participants include four herding dogs, one working dog, one sporting dog and one hound. Many of these breeds are new to us, too, so we’ve gathered some fun facts about each of the new faces of Westminster. Enjoy, and good luck to all the dogs next February in New York City!
As the name might suggest, the Lagotto Romagnolo hails from Italy, specifically the Romagnolo region in the North. The name means “lake dog from Romagna.” Lagotto Romagnolo will compete in the Sporting Group, as they were originally bred to be water retrievers. Lagottos are actually the foundation breed of all water dogs! More recently they have found their calling as truffle dogs, using their keen noses to find these expensive culinary delicacies. A rare breed here in the states, there are only about 500 Lagottos in the US. Lagottos can make great family pets and love children, but beware, they also love to dig. On the plus side, maybe they’ll find you a truffle of your own!
The Bergamasco is a herding dog that also traces its origins to Northern Italy. It is a large dog (typically 60-80 lbs) that is known for its long coat that forms distinctive mats. The Bergamasco’s coat is actually made up of three types of hair: a fine, dense undercoat; long, rough hairs called its “goat hair”; and a woolly top coat. It may look intimidating, but the coat actually requires little maintenance, thanks to the undercoat’s natural oils. True to its origins, the Bergamasco can still be found herding cattle in the Alps, in Italy and across the border in Switzerland. In the US, the breed has performed well in agility and herding competitions. The Bergamasco is certain to stand out next year in the dog show stage.
The third and last Italian dog in the class of 2016, Cirneco dell’Etna is a small hound that calls the southern Italian island of Sicily home. To all the non-Italian speakers, “Cirneco” is pronounced “cheer-nec-ko.” The Cirneco is a hardy hunter who is well suited to roaming the rocky terrain of Sicily, including its namesake Mount Etna. Cirnecos typically weigh between 18-26 lbs, and resemble a small Pharoah Hound. The breed has a short, light brown coat that is easy to groom. If you happen to live a colder climate, though, a doggie sweater may come in handy for this breed.
The Boerboel is easily the largest of the seven new breeds; it can weigh over 200 lbs! This working dog comes to the WKC stage from South Africa, where it traditionally serves as a guard dog for the farm and home. Boerboel roughly translates to “farmer’s bull dog” and is pronounced “burbull.” The breed can be a great family pet, but due to large size and protective nature, they require training from an early age and are best fit for owners with previous experience with large dogs. The first Boerboels at Westminster will no doubt make a big entrance (both literally and figuratively) in Madison Square Garden next February.
The Berger Picard, a small herding dog from Northern France, was almost extinct after World War I and World War II. Luckily, they survived but still remain a rare breed. The Berger Picard has a lovably scruffy appearance and “unique” personality. Like many dogs, they are happiest when they have a job to do, be it herding farm animals or playing fetch in the backyard. Although rare in the US, you may recognize the Berger Picard from its starring role in the 2005 film Because of Winn-Dixie. The dog in the movie is meant to be a mixed breed, however the demands of filming required multiple canine actors. The wiry gray coat and prominent ears of the Berger Picard made them a good fit for the mutt-in-disguise!
Spanish Water Dog
In 2016, the Spanish Water Dog will join his cousins the Portuguese Water Dog, the Irish Water Spaniel and the Barbet to compete at Westminster. Classified as a herding dog, the Spanish Water Dog has been used as an all-around farm dog in his native country for over 100 years. They are also, unsurprisingly, great swimmers! Those familiar with the breed refer to them as “velcro dogs” meaning that they are almost always found right by your side. The Spanish Water Dog’s curly, non-shedding coat is similar to the Portuguese Water Dog’s coat, and can make the breed a good fit for dog lovers who suffer from allergies.
Miniature American Shepherd
The last of the new class is a herding dog from our own shores − the Miniature American Shepherd. Developed in the US, this breed was originally known as the Miniature Australian Shepherd, but will now be known on the dog show circuit as the Miniature American Shepherd. (Read one breeder’s take on the name switch here.) The Miniature American Shepherd, first developed in the 1960s, is also the newest of these seven breeds. This miniature breed typically stays between 20-40 pounds, but despite their small size, they are athletes that thrive with lots of exercise and activities like hiking, running and agility. Like the Aussie, the Miniature American Shepherd is energetic, intelligent and good-natured, with a signature smile. That smile might come in handy at judging time!
Berger Picard image: by Mr407SW (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Miniature American Shepherd: “Miniature American Shepherd with Frisbee” by Mullinspw (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. (Also in featured image – cropped.)