Four New Breeds Introduced at Westminster Dog Show

February 12, 2008

Four new dog breeds were introduced at the 132nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this year in New York City. Making their debut at Madison Square Garden were the Beauceron, the Plott hound, the Swedish Vallhund and the Tibetan Mastiff, all officially recognized recently by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The Westminster Show is the second oldest sporting event in the United States. You can watch three hours of the dog show and its grand finale on the USA Network tonight from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST.

Tibetan Mastiff Puppy at Five Months of Age

The Tibetan Mastiff, which weighs between 100 to 200 pounds as an adult, is one of the largest and most ancient dog breeds in the world, and thought to be the ancestor of most mastiffs and many other large breeds. It has high guard dog and watch dog skills, and must be heavily socialized from puppyhood. In its native Tibet, it’s used to guard livestock and is not afraid to confront large predators such as leopards and wolves. In fact, when Marco Polo first encountered the breed, he described Tibetan mastiffs as “tall as a donkey, with a voice as powerful as that of a lion.” The first record of a Tibetan mastiff dates to 1121 B.C., when one was given to a Chinese emperor.


Plott Hound, A North Carolina Hunting Dog

The Plott Hound, one of the hardiest coonhounds, weighs about 45 to 55 pounds. Bred for boar and bear hunting in the mountains of North Carolina, it’s the only dog breed known to have originated in that state. While it’s been recognized as a breed since 1946, the dogs were rarely sold outside of the Plott family; they’re still uncommon outside of the South. They’re good companion dogs, but most people buy them for use as tenacious hunting dogs.


Swedish Vallhund, The Little Viking Dog

The Swedish Vallhund, known as “the little Viking dog,” is thought to have traveled with the famous Norse explorers. A lively canine, it likes to ham it up and excels at dog agility. It originally was used on farms to herd livestock. By 1942, it was nearly extinct. Skye Terriers and Welsh Corgis are thought to descend from the Vallhund. It makes an excellent home companion. Alert and protective, it seems unaware of its small 20 to 35-pound size when confronting intruders.


The Beauceron, a French Herding Dog

The striking Beauceron, a French herding dog which at first glance appears to be a cross between a Doberman Pinscher and a German Shepherd, has attracted much attention for its imposing appearance, and is gaining popularity as a watchdog and family companion. Used as messenger couriers and mine detectors during World War I and World War II and in other police and military work, a Beauceron can weigh up to 110 pounds. They’re described as friendly, intelligent, eager to please, calm and protective around children, and a joy to work with during obedience training.


The four breeds recognized this year by the AKC are the most breeds recognized at one time at Westminster in over 15 years. AKC regulations stipulate that there must be at least 300 animals of a breed in the United States to earn recognition. David Frei, Westminster’s commentator, said: “These four breeds have been around a long time, but it just took them a little time to get recognized.” While the AKC recognizes 157 dog breeds, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, a worldwide canine organization headquartered in Belgium, recognizes 335 breeds. This means that, in the States, we’ve officially recognized less than half of the world’s dog breeds, and it will be interesting to see what new breeds are recognized by the AKC next year.

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