Dog lovers have seven new breeds to root for in this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, its parent organization announced on Thursday.
The breeds are newly recognized by the American Kennel Club and are now eligible to compete in the show, but have existed for a long time, according to the group. They will join nearly 200 recognized breeds eligible for the yearly competition.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Andrea Shaffer, 43, of Holtwood, Pennsylvania, who plans to show her Lagotto Romagnolo, Niko. “He loves what he does. He goes into the ring and he shines.”
The Lagotto breed, which will enter the sporting group, was originally a water retriever but is now best known as a truffle-hunting dog, Shaffer said.
Niko, who is almost 6 years old, was born in Slovakia, Shaffer said, and came to New York as a baby with his very own passport.
“It’s a big day,” she said of getting to show Niko in Westminster for the first time. “Once they were really pushing toward becoming a recognized breed by the AKC, it’s in the back of your mind that nice little thought that you might eventually go to Westminster. And it happened.”
Christina Potter’s 4-year-old dog Chester is a Berger Picard, a new addition to the herding category. Potter said she has entered Chester in agility competitions for years, and the famous dog even starred in a commercial and written his own autobiography.
“I think it’s fantastic they get recognized. It’s a fantastic breed,” said Potter, 49, from North Bergen, New Jersey. “I think it’s great for any breed to have full recognition because it helps keep our breeds pure, which is the goal here.”
The seven new breeds are the Berger Picard, the Bergamasco, the Boerboel, the Cirneco dell’Etna, the Lagotto Romagnolo, the Miniature American Shepherd, and the Spanish Water Dog, according to the club.