The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, presented by Purina Pro Plan, celebrates 145 years of obedience, agility and breed standards this summer. For four races, 2021 marks their Westminster debut and a chance to show the world what they’re made of! Westminster Kennel Club Communications Director Gail Miller Bisher spoke to us about these newly recognized breeds, the real meaning of breed standards and the importance of the unique location of this year’s show.
Admit new breeds
Since its inception in 1877, the goal of the Westminster Kennel Club has been to celebrate purebred dogs. Whoever has seen Best of Show knows how competitive the event can be. Over 3,000 dogs register to participate each year and only one receives the top prize.
“This is not a beauty pageant,” says Miller. Rather, dogs are judged on “written standards based on function”. For example, the American Foxhound was bred to hunt foxes. His breed standards, which include phrases such as “the chest should be deep for lung space” and “a tight, hard, medium-length dog coat”, are a direct result of this feature. Judges focus more on these standards than on the good looks or loveliness of the dog (although grooming and coat length are an integral part of many breed standards).
To be admitted to the Westminster Show, Miller says a breed must first be recognized by the American Kennel Club. A breed must also have a designated parent club to preserve the breed and there must be a certain number of them living in and around the United States. (This is often the reason why a breed may have been around for centuries but was only recently included in a Westminster show.) Thus, officials at the American Foxhound Club must keep studbook records and American Foxhounds living in the United States cannot all come from a single breeder.
When a new purebred debuts at Westminster, Miller says it’s a historic moment for the breed. The event is often the first time many people have been introduced to this type of dog, which is exciting and educational. âThe show is really a public education event,â Miller adds.
Changes in 2021
Miller worked diligently with a small team to ensure this year’s event is safe for everyone involved, whether canine or human. In addition to safety protocols like wearing masks and presenting negative Covid test results!
Instead of taking place in Manhattan, as it has for 145 years, this year’s Westminster Dog Show will be held in Tarrytown, New York at Lyndhurst Castle on June 12-13. The magnificent Gothic Revival style mansion originally belonged to Jay. Gould, a railroad mogul who bred show dogs, which seems fitting for the first off-site event in the organization’s history.
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, you cannot purchase tickets to attend live this year. But you can watch the event on FOX sports networks. Cheer on your favorite breeds! They are the best of the best!
4 new breeds at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2021
The four new breeds presented this year at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show are the Biewer Terrier, the Barbet, the Belgian Laekenois and the Dogo Argentino.
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Height: 7-11 inch
Weight: 4-8 pounds
Personality: Affectionate, whimsical
Grooming: High maintenance (with long hair); Low maintenance (with hair cut short)
If you are a fan of doggies, you might recognize this small breed. Miller describes Biewer (pronounced “beaver”) Terriers as confident, playful, and intelligent dogs with a very unique coloring. Their coats are meant to be long and silky with ponytails keeping the hair out of their eyes, which you will see at the show. Developed by a German couple in the 1980s, the Biewers were recently recognized by the AKC earlier this year.
Height: 19-24.5 inch
Weight: 35-65 pounds
Personality: Friendly, loyal
Grooming: High to moderate maintenance
Barbets are fluffy dogs that were bred to collect waterfowl in 16th century France (a prime example of a dog that has been around for hundreds of years but was not accepted into the AKC until January 2020). As a show dog, Barbets require a very specific grooming regimen. As pets, weekly brushing is enough to keep their coats curly in good condition. Miller describes them as “versatile” dogs who have served many purposes over the years working on farms and as hunters. These puppies are really happy, athletic animals that thrive when they get plenty of mental and physical exercise.
Height: 24-26.5 inch (male), 24-25.5 inch (female)
Weight: 88-100 lbs (male), 88-95 lbs (female)
Personality: Courageous, Athletic
Grooming: Low maintenance
These tough, muscular dogs were bred in the late 1920s in Argentina to hunt and catch dangerous predators like wild boars and pumas. So it’s no surprise that the Dogo Argentinos are incredibly courageous and loyal companions. Their coats are elegant and white; they have large heads with thick, muscular necks. Even if you don’t hunt dangerous animals like wild boars, Dogo Argentinos make excellent pets and guard dogs.
Height: 24-26 inch (male), 22-24 inch (female)
Weight: 55-65 pounds
Personality: Alert, Affectionate
Grooming: Low to moderate maintenance
You will be able to tell the difference between the Belgian Laekenois and its Belgian counterparts (the Malinois, Shepherd and Tervuren) by its particularly coarse and “tousled” coat, as the AKC says. These dogs were bred in the city of Laeken to watch over the herds and property of farmers. Today, they retain some of their watchdog attitude and may be wary of strangers. In their hearts, they live to love their family. The Belgian Laekenois joined the AKC in July 2020.
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