Three new AKC-recognized dog breeds: bluetick coonhound, Boykin spaniel and redbone coonhound
The American Kennel Club has announced that three new dog breeds -- the bluetick coonhound, the Boykin spaniel and the redbone coonhound -- will be eligible for AKC conformation competition beginning Dec. 30.
The new breeds will bring the total number of breeds recognized by the AKC to 164.
The bluetick coonhound (left) is believed to be descended from the French staghound and English foxhound, and blueticks were originally classified as members of the English foxhound breed.
Blueticks and English foxhounds went their separate ways in 1945 because, according to the AKC, bluetick breeders "didn't want to follow the trend toward producing a hot-nosed, faster hunter. Proud of their larger, cold-nosed and resolute, if slower hounds, they named their breed and maintained their own hunting style."
As a result of these breeding practices, blueticks are known for their endurance in addition to their signature coloring, for which they're named. A bluetick named Smokey is the mascot for the University of Tennessee.
The Boykin spaniel (right) -- named for the breed's originator, L. Whitaker Boykin -- hails from South Carolina and is that state's official dog. (This fun fact got us wondering whether California has an official state dog; it doesn't. But a number of other U.S. states do; for instance, the American foxhound is the state dog of Virginia and the Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog is the state dog of Louisiana. For reasons unclear to us, the Great Dane is the official dog of Pennsylvania.)
According to legend, the Boykin breed got its start in the humblest of manners: the breed's forerunner, a sturdy little stray who was given the name Dumpy (no joke), was found wandering near a church in Spartanburg, S.C., in the early 1900s. One of the parishioners, Alexander White, took Dumpy home. After spending some time with Dumpy, White thought his personality lended itself to hunting; it just so happened that White's hunting partner was Boykin, a skilled dog trainer. Boykin took over Dumpy's training and soon discovered the dog was a natural at hunting wild turkeys; soon, a breed was born. Although the original Boykin spaniels were wild-turkey hunters, the majority of those used in the field today hunt ducks and other water birds.
Young-adult literature fans may remember the redbone coonhound (left) from Wilson Rawls' novel "Where the Red Fern Grows," which made us weep in our youth and, even now, causes us to well up a bit thinking about it. Redbones are descended from red foxhounds brought to the U.S. from Scotland and Ireland in the 1700s and 1800s, and they're known for their speed, agility and prowess at treeing game.
Both the bluetick coonhound and redbone coonhound will join the Hound group, naturally; the Boykin spaniel will become the newest member of the Sporting group. The new breeds are the first to receive official recognition from the AKC since the Irish red-and-white setter, the Pyrenean shepherd and the Norwegian buhund were admitted to the exclusive purebreds-only club in January.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Top photo: A bluetick coonhound. Credit: Diane Lewis / American Kennel Club
Middle photo: A Boykin spaniel. Credit: Bill Simmons
Bottom photo: A redbone coonhound. Credit: Christine Smith