Madison Square Garden went to the dogs Thursday morning as seven new breeds made an appearance with their handlers—just a few weeks before their debut February 15-16 at the 140th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City.
“We call them new breeds but the truth is that these breeds have been in existence somewhere in the world for many years,” said Gail Miller Bisher, director of communications at The Westminster Kennel Club, before introducing the newbies. “Many are ancient breeds that are gaining popularity here.”
This year, nearly 3,000 dogs from all 50 states tried to gain entry into the competition (199 breeds and varieties are eligible) with handlers perhaps most excited about the first-ever Masters Obedience Championship during which 35 very well-behaved dogs will vie for the title.
Here’s the 411 on the seven breeds making their debut:
Bergamasco: This medium-size dog is an ancient breed from the Alps, notable for its thick coat formed of long flocks (felted strands made of a triple coat).
Berger Picard: These herders are one of the oldest French herding breeds. This medium-size dog is people-oriented, loyal and can make a good family pet.
Boerboel: Originating in South Africa, this dog is big, strong and athletic. The Boerboel is also reliable, intelligent and obedient with a strong watchdog instinct.
Cirneco dell’Etna: This hound is considered to be the result of evolution of the Egyptian ‘Anubis’ on the island of Sicily where it was introduced by the Phoenicians over 2,500 years ago. This breed excels at performance events such as hunting, agility, coursing, tracking and rally.
Lagotto Romagnolo: This truffle-hunting dog has a rustic curly coat that once served as protection from freezing water. Agile in mind and body, the Lagotto has the endurance to work all day in challenging terrain and weather.
Miniature American Shepherd: Developed in the American West in the late 1960s, the highly active Miniature American Shepherd is a small herding dog. Formerly known as the Miniature Australian Shepherd, they are up to 18 inches tall and up to 35 pounds as adults.
Spanish Water Dog: Originating in Spain, Spanish Water Dogs are versatile farm dogs, primarily herding sheep and goats but also serving as hunting companions and assistants to fishermen. They’re known for their distinctive wooly, curly non-shedding coat.
OK! Here we go! Let's take 7 tiny gene pools, inbreed the heck out of them and sell them to the idiot American public. (Vets will love it! Dogs with built-in mega-bills!) Make the sale to the gullible with some cocked-up story about the breed's antiquity (Anubis? Really?) and their wonderfulness as pets and sport dogs and top it off with three little candles in the shape of the letters AKC. Barnum was right...
But the real dying breed here is the AKC, the registry of puppy-mill produce, purveyor of lies, and tottering dinosaur of the "dog fancy." And not a moment too soon. Perhaps a few of these breeds will escape the fatal effects of AKC recognition and puppy-mill production, and be allowed to subside into extinction in peace when the AKC goes tits-up. It can't happen a moment too soon for anyone who cares about dogs.
If you don't want to support this fiasco, and you shouldn't want to, write to Purina and tell them you're dropping their products because of their sponsorship of the Westminster Kennel Club Show. Westminster has about as much to do with canine excellence as the Oscars do with cinematic excellence. Get real, get out, and get a mutt or a working-bred dog the next time you're in the market for a dog.