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Meet the Newest Dog Breeds at the Westminster Dog Show

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By Lisa Marie Conklin, Reader's Digest


Dogs aplenty

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When the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (WDS) premiered in 1877, 35 breeds competed—but in 2020, the WDS will feature a whopping 204 breeds and varieties. (Varieties are also purebreds, but they're further divided into varieties based on size, coat, and color. For example, Dachshunds compete in the variety category because they show in longhaired, wirehaired, and smooth coats.) Each breed and variety is represented by at least one dog, but often much more. For example, the golden retriever, one of America's favorite breeds, has 48 dogs entered, and short and sweet Dachshunds have 55 dogs entered this year. In total, 2,360 dogs are hoping to catch the judge's eye and take home the prestigious Best In Show title when they compete on February 10 and 11. Interestingly though, neither golden retrievers nor dachshunds have ever won the Westminster Dog Show.


Welcome to the club!

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The registry of the American Kennel Club (AKC), the largest and oldest not-for-profit purebred registry in the world, grew from 193 to 195 with the addition of the Barbet and Dogo Argentino on January 1, 2020. The process of achieving AKC full recognition isn't one that happens overnight. First, there has to be an official request with documentation that an acceptable foreign or domestic registry officially recognizes the breed. From there, history and documentation of the breed—such as photos and breed standards— are recorded and the growth of total numbers of the breed (at least 300 registered dogs) must be met, among other qualifications.


Azawakh

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Last year, the Azawakh (pronounced oz-a-wok) was the new pup on the block, becoming the 193rd breed to be recognized by the AKC on January 1, 2019. This slender, leggy sighthound from West Africa will be competing in the Hound Group for the first time with six entries at the WDS. They are well known for their speed and dominate at Lure Coursing events. Indoors, they are remarkably affectionate and devoted to their human, so much so that they may snub strangers—at least till they get to know them. If you want one of your own, be prepared to fork over about $3,000. 


Two up and comers

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The AKC recognized two new breeds in 2020, the Barbet and Dogo Argentino. This means they can compete in dog shows and events—but not at Westminster. They must wait till 2021, because all dogs competing for Best In Show at WDS are AKC champions of record, meaning they have accumulated 15 points to become an AKC champion. In a nutshell, they are the tops dogs of their breed in their group. AKC has seven groups—Sporting, Working, Non-Working, Hound, Herding, Toy, and Terrier. The Barbet and Dogo Argentino were eligible to compete in their assigned groups on January 1, 2020 (the Barbet in the Sporting Group and the Dogo Argentino in the Working Group). 


Barbet

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Although the Barbet (pronounced "Bar-bay") is a fully recognized AKC breed, you probably won't see one at your local dog park. According to the Barbet Club of America—the parent club of the Barbet—there's only 500 of these fluffylicious dogs. We're sure that number will spike as these cuddly and curly cuties are irresistible. Barbet is from the French word "barbe," meaning beard, and what an impressive beard these pups have, especially in contrast to the dense, curly hair that covers its face and body. Yet all that hair doesn't shed! The Barbet has a proclivity for the water and is an excellent swimmer thanks to its webbed feet. It's devoted to its human and doesn't like being left alone for long periods of time. 


Dogo Argentino

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At first glance, the Dogo Argentino doesn't seem like a candidate for snuggle time on the sofa. Yet, the "all business" appearance is just for show. Back in the 1920s when the Dogo Argentino was introduced, it put on an imposing and fearless front when hunting the mountain lions and wild boars of Argentina. As part of the Working Group today, they're known for their stellar athletic skills and require lots of daily exercise. Their hunting days may be over but their guarding instincts and tendency to protect their territory (you and your home) are very strong. Yet, like most dog breeds that are good watchdogs, they are also lovable and affectionate with their humans.

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