3 New Breeds Enter American Kennel Club Ranks
The Irish Red and White Setter, the Pyrenean Shepherd and the Norwegian Buhund will soon join the ranks of the American Kennel Club. (Pet Pulse Illustration by Tim Mattson)
NEW YORK -- The American Kennel Club will open its exclusive doors to three new recognized dog breeds after the New Year.
The Irish Red and White Setter, the Pyrenean Shepherd and the Norwegian Buhund will officially join the world's largest kennel club's ranks as the 159th, 160th and 161st AKC registered breeds, on Jan. 1, 2009.
Achieving breed recognition can -- and often does -- take several years, as it did for the Irish Red and White Setter Association, which has been in talks with the AKC since 1997.
"This has been a long time in the making," said Kathy Pellerito, president of the Irish Red and White Setter Association.
A vying dog breed first needs a well dispersed and active organization to back its recognition efforts.
"There basically has to be a following or fanciers of a particular breed in the United States," the AKC's director of club communications, Lisa Peterson, said. "There also has to be a specific number of the breed across the country ."
The AKC looks for the breed to have three tracked generations of the pedigree and to be represented in at least 20 states across the country. It also considers the number of people in a given club, with a stated minimum of 100 active household owners and members.
The review process continues from there, replete with several layers and classifications that, given a little patience and time, can eventually lead to full recognition.
In exchange for undergoing years of review, unofficial breed clubs and organizations are rewarded the ability to compete in the AKC's major prestigious shows, like the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.
Aside from the name recognition and prestige, the certification also provides breeders a chance to sell or trade the recognized dogs abroad.
"If you want to export your Tibetan Mastiff to Holland or Finland, it has to be registered," said Martha Feltenstein, president of the Tibetan Mastiff Club of America.
"As with the stock market, we are working in a global economy."
There isn't necessarily a direct correlation between breed recognition and an increased price tag on a dog, says Felterstein, who has bred several of her male Tibetan Mastiffs. At the same time, the recognition can help provide legitimacy to breeders.
Tibetan Mastiffs, which became recognized last year after six years of review, can fetch for up to $500,000, as Feltenstein witnessed last year.
The dogs hail from Tibet but are now the source of political controversy, as China is trying to claim the breed as its own. They normally are sold for $1,500 to $3,500.
The AKC's newest additions also hail originally from outside the U.S.
The Irish Red and White Setter, now classified within the AKC's sporting group, is popular in its native Ireland; the Pyrenean Shepherd, which first came to North America during the 1800s, originally dwelled in Europe's Pyrenees Mountain Range; and the Norwegian Buhund, known for herding sheep, comes from Norway.
"The breeds have to be purebred dogs, that have been bred for decades, if not centuries, for a specific job," Peterson said. "We don't take 'designer dogs' or dogs that you took two of those and made one of these."
Groups seeking breed recognition first have to become recorded by the AKC's Foundation Stock Service, which tracks dogs not yet eligible for recognition for various reasons.
Breed representatives must also draft the dog's written history and breed standard, in terms of physical appearance and demeanor.
Eventually, dog breeds can advance to the AKC'S Miscellaneous Class, which acts as a "stepping stone to full breed recognition," Pellerito says.
"The AKC will put you in that class for a year or two and they want to see people take their dogs out and show them, even though you can't get awards for it," she said.
The breed shows allow the public to "become aware of the breed and its history," Peterson said. "It really is about educational issues."
The AKC's Board of Directors will then review all the information after the breed group has jumped through the required hoops.
Yet for Pellerito, the end result of breed recognition is well-worth the time and effort.
"The ultimate goal is to get full status, and it is really just a matter of time, but the process can be really intensive," she said. "It was a great victory for us to get this recognition. It was a goal set forth by the founding members of the club."
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