Every year, the top dogs around the country gather to compete at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Usually, the event is held at Madison Square Garden in New York City, but due to COVID-19, the 145th show will be in Tarrytown, New York, from Friday, June 11, to Sunday, June 13. Although the location and some of the protocols—like no vendors or spectators—are different, one thing remains the same. There will be a variety of sweet pups competing in their groups in hopes of taking home the ultimate prize: Best in Show.
All of the dogs who compete at the Westminster Dog Show, presented by Purina Pro Plan, are breeds that are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). There's a lengthy process to get certified, explains says Gail Miller Bisher, a handler, trainer, and judge, and resident expert for the dog show. The breed needs to have a national club, a studbook, and have many dogs dispersed throughout the country. Then, the club can apply to the AKC for recognition. If that's granted, the breed will be eligible for AKC dog shows. This year, there will be four new breeds strutting their stuff at the competition: Barbet, Belgian Laekenois (pronounced "lak-in-wah"), Biewer Terrier (pronounced like "beaver"), and Dogo Argentino. Although these breeds are newly certified, they've been around for many, many years. "All of the breeds are ancient breeds and popular in other countries," Bisher explains. Before the contest airs on FOX and via live stream on the Westminster website, get to know a little bit about the four new pups.
"[Barbets] are a happy-go-lucky breed," Bisher says. This curly-coated pup is a medium-size breed and comes in various colors, including black, gray, brown, and fawn, and can have white markings. The athletic dog is bred to locate, flush, and retrieve birds. The barbet is a very smart breed and is a strong swimmer.
Height: 19 to 24.5 inches
Weight: 35 to 65 pounds
The Belgian Laekenois is the fourth breed hailing from Belgium to be AKC-certified. "They all have the same frame and structure," Bisher explains. "The main difference is their coat types and where in Belgium they were [originally] herding." This strong dog is actually the rarest of the four breeds and has a rough coat that comes in shades of red, fawn, and gray. The breed can be skeptical of strangers, but super loving with their owner and people the pup knows.
Height: 22 to 24 inches for females and 24 to 26 inches for males
Weight: 55 to 65 pounds
Does this pint-size pup look like another breed you know? The Biewer Terrier has a similar shape to a Yorkshire Terrier and is a companion-oriented breed, Bisher notes. This dog has an interesting coloring and is mostly white with mahogany patches. "This dog is really unique, but becoming popular," Bisher says. A big bonus of this dog is it has a longer life expectancy of 16 years.
Height: 7 to 11 inches
Weight: 4 to 8 pounds
The Dogo Argentino is pretty, elegant, and very athletic, Bisher says. (Originally, the Dogo Argentino was bred to hunt big game such as pumas and wild boars.) This breed is almost always all white (some pups have a dark patch by their eye) and has a big head and neck.
Height: 24 to 25.5 inches for females and 24 to 26.5 for males
Weight: 88 to 95 for females and 88 to 100 pounds for males