This year the American Kennel Club has recognized four new breeds for the purpose of eligibility for shows. These are breeds that have long been established in other countries but now have enough individual dogs/fanciers in the States to be shown – and thus bred – here in the U.S..
From South Africa we have a member of the Mastiff family, the Boerboel. An impressive dog that has, like most Mastiffs, been used primarily to guard his home and people this is a powerful, large breed, with males getting as large as 28 inches at the shoulder and from 150 – 200 pounds (71 cms, 90.7 kg).
This breed is designed to be loyal to its family and aloof with strangers. Physically many members of the breed were agile enough to also be used hunting; their specialty was to help bring down large game.
I’ve noticed that in the States people are docking tails, and sometimes cropping ears, which hopefully will soon fall out of favor; this is a breed that is obviously well balanced with a tail and there should be no excuse that judges will not place a dog with a tail at a bench show. Of course, some people are docking and cropping to add to the fierce looking appearance of the breed – entirely unnecessary when dealing with a dog this big. Anyone who is going to charge past a 200 pound dog isn’t going to be stopped by their stub tail.
The next two breeds are both Italian in origin.
The Bergamasco is a herding breed and may remind viewers of the Hungarian breeds the Puli and Komondor (Bergamasco are slightly larger than Puli and considerably smaller than Komondor). Breed history says that this breed traveled into the Italian Alps with nomadic herders originally from the area of Iran. The breed as now known however, was rescued from near extinction after WWII by an Italian breeder.
As with herding/livestock guarding breeds that needed to work at least part of the time independently and part of the time with shepherds, the Bergamasco is trainable but independent. This breed can think for itself even though it also becomes very devoted to both the people and animals it protects and herds. And yes, this breed will herd children just as willingly as it will herd sheep.
The Cirneco dell’Etna may remind viewers of the more familiar (in the U.S.) Pharaoh Hound; they share a common ancestor and origin but the Cirneco is the smallest member of this branch of the hound family (which also includes the Ibizan.) As with other hounds, these have been used to hunt; the Cirneco has arguably maintained its working roots longer than its cousins who are mainly found in shows and as pets. It may take those of us in the U.S. not from Sicily a while to remember that their name is pronounced cheer-nek-ko.
The Cirneco is slighter in build than its cousins the Pharaoh Hound and Ibizan, as well as slightly calmer and more mindful that it often still has a job to do. They are however, gaining in popularity as housepets due to their smaller size and limited grooming requirements, not to mention their relatively calm and affectionate personalities. They do however, have an athletic nature and a need to get out and move.
The fourth entry into the 2015 AKC book is the Spanish Water Dog (SWD). Putting aside the breed’s name, the appearance of members of the breed gives a strong hint of what they were primarily/originally used for. Dogs with rough coats and solid physical stamina but not overly large build generally were used for herding. The SWD proved to be very multi purpose though and so, their people found additional uses for the breed.
SWD club uk
This breed proved useful not just for retrieving from the water; it is said they also were used to help tow small boats to shore.
Obviously a trainable and energetic breed, it is strongly recommended that the SWD live with people with dog experience. With their intellect and prowess they otherwise will soon be running the family. And yes, this is another breed that is willing to herd children. But it’s probably best if you don’t let an SWD raise your child.
akc photos – Cirneco in field trial
With the addition of these four breeds the AKC now recognizes 184 breeds of dogs.
And I will again remind readers, every single one of these breeds has volunteers working to rehome members of the breed who for a variety of reasons, are not able to stay with their original families.
Barbet free images – SWD working
As I also always like to remind people, don’t add yourself to the list of people who need to rehome a dog by obtaining a breed that isn’t suitable to your lifestyle and expectations.
Mizpah Butch, an influential Boeborel easily scaling a fence
While these are all lovely breeds, none of them are particularly suited to first time dog owners. Their exercise needs and/or potentially dominate personalities will do best with people who approach the relationship with experience training, meeting exercise needs, and dog-behavior knowledge.
A working dog – Silver Pastori Bergamascos
Each breed will however, certainly be fun to watch in shows and field trials and I look forward to encountering them in increased numbers, in the right homes.