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four dog breeds (you probably haven't heard of!)

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four dog breeds (you probably haven't heard of!)
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Feb 13 2015

You guys know that I’m all about adopting pets from the shelter and totally in love with mixed breeds, right? Well, I am. But I’m also a sucker for the Westminster Dog Show. Some people look forward to romantic dinners on Valentine’s Day, but for me, Valentine’s Day means that my yearly dog show craving is about to become quenched.

I also very much look forward to the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) announcement of their new breeds for the year. This year, they have welcomed four new breeds to their ranks. These new breeds are eligible to compete in AKC sanctioned dog shows, but they won’t be able to grace the stage of Westminster until next February.

This year, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only had I heard of three out of four of the breeds (this isn’t always the case!), I have actually treated three out of four of the breeds!


The Bergamasco

This breed (pictured above) is instantly recognizable to those who know it—long mats flow freely from the Bergamasco, obscuring almost all of the details of this large dog’s face and body. While he looks foreboding, the Bergamasco is actually quite athletic under that large hair coat. He needed to be quick and agile to herd sheep, which was his original purpose in his homeland near the Italian Alps. The Bergamasco has been added to the herding group, and he lives up to this category. He is tireless in his efforts to protect his flock, be it a herd of sheep or a family of four, and his above average smarts have him working hard to meet his master’s approval.


The Cirneco dell’Etna

The Cirneco dell’Etna is NOT one of the breeds that I have treated. In fact, I had never heard of the breed before the AKC made its announcement. Pronounced “cheer-NAY-koh dehl-eht-nah”, this new arrival to the hound group is otherwise known as the Sicilian Greyhound. While the Cirneco dell’Etna is a breed new to me, it has been roaming Sicily for more than 2,500 years, hunting small mammals in the shadow of Mt. Etna and being generally adorable. His alert face and pointy ears resemble that of his distant cousin, the Pharaoh Hound, and this little work horse thrives in the heat and rough terrain of old volcanic flows.

The Spanish Water Dog

This medium-sized addition to the herding group is the definition of cute—long curly hair (black, brown, white or all of the above), and eyes that smile and dance. It comes as no surprise that the Spanish Water Dog was developed in Spain, where the breed was used as an all-purpose helper dog. Hunting, herding and assisting fishermen in the water were where the Spanish Water Dog was most comfortable, but at the end of a long work day, he was also happy to curl up with his master for a bit of R and R.

The Boerboel

The imposing look of the large Boerboel may make strangers wary, but family members know that the newest addition to the working group is really just a big ball of love. The Boerboel hails from South Africa, and his name translates to “farm dog.” Boerboels resemble Mastiff dogs and can easily reach 150 pounds or more. A dog of this size was perfect for protecting livestock and family on South African farms, and the Boerboel’s strong personality was a perfect fit for the job. While the Boerboel is a loyal addition to any home, it is that same strong personality that might pose a challenge to a first time dog owner.

And there you have it—the newest members of the American Kennel Club. Like I said, don’t expect to see them walking the floor at Westminster this year, as they won’t make an appearance until 2016. Instead, look forward to the two new breeds debuting at the show this year: The adorable Coton de Tulear and the affable Wirehaired Vizsla!