The Westminster Dog Show takes place next month, and in anticipation of the big event, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has recognized three new dog breeds for competition: the Chinook, the Rat Terrier, and the Portuguese Podengo Poqueno.
The Chinook is an American dog breed. Originally bred as a sled dog by musher Arthur Treadwell Walden of New Hampshire, this rare breed makes an excellent family pet. Walden bred a farm dog of unknown heritage with a “northern” husky, possibly from Greenland, producing a litter of puppies with tawny coats. One of those pups, named Chinook, grew up to father a dog breed that not only had his physical characteristics but also his gentle disposition. A team of Chinooks transported supplies for Admiral Richard Byrd’s trek to Antarctica in 1927. The calm and dignified Chinook generously dishes out affection on family members and is known for its love of children. This breed is also known for its thick, tawny-colored double coat and amazing athletic ability. The Chinook needs lots of daily exercise – when bored it can be quite destructive and won't be entertained by lounging on the couch. These dogs thrive at dog sports, including sledding and agility, herding, and obedience and make great companions for active families. Chinooks stand 22 to 26 inches tall, weigh 50 to 90 pounds, and live 12 to 15 years. In 1965, the breed was considered the most rare type of dog in the world. Still uncommon, this state dog of New Hampshire seems to be making a comeback.
The Rat Terrier is also an American dog breed. His ancestry includes the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Italian Greyhound, Miniature Pinscher and Beagle. An all-purpose farm dog, this breed was used to kill rats and hunt small game. Like many of its terrier cousins, the Rat Terrier is smart and active, which means it needs plenty of exercise and mentally-stimulating activities – if not provided these things, the Rat Terrier can be quite destructive. Engaging in dog sports like agility and flyball will keep this energetic little dog stimulated mentally and physically. This breed is calmer than other terrier breeds and enjoys lap time with its people. Smart and fun-loving, the Rat Terrier likes to be involved and can be prone to separation anxiety. Therefore, early training and plenty of socialization is required for this breed (and its owner) to be happy. Rat terriers come in two sizes: miniature (10 to 13 inches at the shoulder) and standard (13 to 18 inches tall). They weigh between 8 to 25 pounds and can live 12 to 18 years. These small dogs can be big chewers. They are also known to be barkers and diggers. Plan to use a dog crate, tall baby gates and exercise pens for this breed. Because of their friendly disposition, rat terriers can make great therapy dogs.
The Portuguese Podengo is a sighthound originally bred to hunt rabbits in packs. This breed comes in three sizes and two varieties: the smooth, with a short, dense coat, and the wirecoat, with a medium-length, rough coat. Originating from Portugal, this breed resembles the Pharaoh Hound, Ibizan Hound, and Cirneco dell Etna, and is probable that all of these breeds share the same ancestry. The AKC registered the Podengo as part of the Hound Group. An alert dog, the Podengo makes an excellent watchdog. But, be aware: it likes to chase other furry creatures, and that would include the family cat! This breed can jump very high as well as straight up, therefore, insure you have a very tall fence if you get one of these dogs. Height sizes for these dogs are 8 to 12 inches, 16 to 22 inches, and 22 to 28 inches at the shoulder; weights are 8 to 14 pounds, 35 to 45 pounds, and 44 to 66 pounds. These dogs generally live 10 to 14 years. Well-muscled and extremely athletic, they need of regular exercise and excel at agility and lure coursing. Podengos can also do well in obedience and tracking.
As another season of Westminster rolls around, it will be interesting to watch these new breeds in the ring and see how they fare during the upcoming competition, February 10 and 11, 2014.
Photo credit: American Kennel Club
In honor of America's Independence Day, let's look at some of the dog breeds that are “made in America.”
The Alaskan Malamute is the largest and oldest Arctic sled dog breeds. Although not designed to race, this dog's great strength and endurance makes it a formidable hauler of goods over long distances. It's named for a native Innuit tribe in Alaska.
Known for its bright, white coat and deep black lips and nose, the American Eskimo is an active, intelligent, and loving dog that was once used in circuses as a trick performer. “Eskies” do well in conformation and agility competitions. Despite it's name, the breed has nothing to do with Eskimos – it's lineage is European Spitz dogs.
Another breed with a name that fools is the Australian Shepherd. They were likely developed by Basque shepherds who came to America from Australia during the 1800s. These quick-witted, quick-footed dogs are versatile and intelligent workers, serving as pet therapy dogs, ranch dogs, and search and rescue dogs as well as family companions. They perform well in obedience and agility competitions.
The American Foxhound is one of the rarest American dog breeds as well as one of the oldest. George Washington, first president of the United States, is known as the father of the American Foxhound. This breed is bred to run and hunt, and therefore, is quite energetic.
The American Staffordshire Terrier, also called the Am Staff, is bred for intelligence and endurance; it's a great competitor in agility, tracking and obedience trials. The Am Staff is related to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England and is loyal and protective of its human family.
Another American breed with ties to England is the American Cocker Spaniel. These dogs are smaller in stature and with a different head shape than their English cousins. Though originally used as sporting dogs, most cockers today are companion animals.
The sturdy, muscular American Bulldog also differs from its English counterpart, having longer legs. This breed almost became extinct by the close of World War II. Loyal, determined and courageous, these dogs were used for bull baiting centuries ago, and though not naturally hostile, some municipalities consider it a bully breed.
Also a rare American breed, the American Water Spaniel is noted for its unique curly coat and excellent retrieving ability. It was developed in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. It's heritage is the Irish Water Spaniel and the Curly-coated Retriever. This breed is known as a wonderful sporting dog and family pet. It is the state dog of Wisconsin.
The Boykin Spaniel is another American spaniel that serves as an official state dog (South Carolina). This breed developed from a small stray dog that became an incredible retriever. Known for its love for people and its stamina, the Boykin is an excellent waterfowl and game bird retriever.
Such dogs seem to be liked by many states. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the state dog of Maryland. This breed originated during the 1800s from the mating of Newfoundlands with retrieving dog breeds. The “Chessie” is an intelligent, active dog that excels as a waterfowl retriever.
Originating from crossing an English bulldog with a white English terrier, the Boston Terrier is a smaller dog breed, developed after the Civil War as a fighting dog. Now known as the “American gentleman”, this little black and white dog is mostly a house pet, and is considered intelligent, loving, and loyal.
The Redbone Coonhound is a vocal breed that traces its heritage to Scottish and Irish red foxhounds brought to America about 300 years ago. Known for speed and agility, these dogs are also excellent swimmers. Their purpose is treeing game. This breed is fairly new to the American Kennel Club (AKC) competition, being recognized in 2010.
Another hound new to the AKC competition is the Treeing Walker Coonhound, recognized in 2012. This energetic, friendly dog's purpose is to track and tree raccoons. It is known for its great endurance and willingness to please.
There are several other American dog breeds. Learn about them and other breeds recognized by the AKC at www.akc.org.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.