As a dog lover, you would have to be living under a rock to not know that Malachy, the Pekingese, took the coveted Best in Show title at this years Westminster Dog Show. I must admit, I’m not the biggest Pekingese fan. (In all fairness, though, I haven’t met too many of them!)
You have to love the tradition of the dog show! This year was the 136th Westminster Dog Show…which means it’s the second longest continuously held sporting event in America. (The Kentucky Derby holds the top spot; it was first held in 1875.) Way back in its first year, the Westminster Dog show drew 1200 entries. (Now held at Madison Square Garden, 2500 dogs are able to participate. )
All pup participants must be registered with the American Kennel Club. The AKC now recognizes an incredible 185 unique breeds. How does a breed become recognized by the AKC? That’s a very good question!
First of all – you have to prove people are interested in your new breed. That means you must have a breed club with at least 100 members. Then you have to prove that there are at least 300 dogs with a three generation pedigree in your shiny new breed. THEN you have to prove that your new breed (and its fans) are spread over at least 20 states. Once the AKC reviews all this info – along with the breed’s standards AND all the details about your breed’s club – you still aren’t even recognized! Now your breed is allowed to compete in the Miscellaneous Class.
Dogs of new breeds usually complete in the Miscellaneous Class for one to three years. After the first year, the AKC follows up with the breed club and makes sure they are still hosting events and adding new members. Once the AKC is confident the long list of criteria has been met, the breed is presented to the Board of Directors to be officially recognized.
This year, six new breeds made their debut at the Westminster Dog Show: the American English Coonhound, the Cesky Terrier, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, the Finnish Lapphund, the Norwegian Lundenund, and the Xoloitzcuintli. Over the next week or so, we are going to be exploring these new (and strangely named!) breeds to find out what makes them different from the other 179 already established. Stay tuned!