Norwegian lundehund, Xoloitzcuintli and Entlebucher mountain dog are newest AKC-recognized breeds
The American Kennel Club has announced that three new dog breeds -- the Norwegian lundehund, Xoloitzcuintli and Entlebucher mountain dog -- have received the organization's official recognition, bringing the total number of breeds eligible to compete in AKC-sanctioned dog shows to 170.
The Norwegian lundehund (above right) is a spitz breed that was first used to hunt puffins in remote parts of Norway, and several unique features made it especially adept at grabbing the birds from their nesting areas in caves and in crevices along cliff walls. Lundehunds have extra toes on each paw (most have six toes on each foot, though some have seven), making them especially surefooted; thick double coats that allow them to thrive in cold weather; extremely flexible necks and shoulders; and ears that can fold closed to protect the ear canal from debris. When puffin hunting fell out of favor, the dogs did as well, and the breed nearly died out until a concerted effort to revive it was undertaken in the years after World War II. Today, the breed remains relatively rare. It will join breeds such as the Dalmatian, chow chow, standard poodle and bulldog in the AKC's Non-Sporting Group.
The Xoloitzcuintli (above left), pronounced "show-low-eats-queen-tlee" and often called the Xolo for short, is one of the world's oldest dog breeds; it's known to have existed in Mexico for more than 3,000 years. It was once exhibited in AKC shows under the name Mexican hairless, but it was dropped from the AKC stud book in 1959. Today, the Xolo exists in two varieties -- hairless and coated -- and three sizes. A single Xolo litter can contain both hairless and coated puppies. Like the Norwegian lundehund, the Xolo will compete in the AKC's Non-Sporting Group.
The Entlebucher mountain dog -- sometimes called simply the Entle -- is a relative of the Bernese mountain dog and the greater Swiss mountain dog and shares those breeds' muscular frames and black, white and tan coat coloring. The breed originated as a cattle-herding dog and will now be eligible for competition in the AKC's Herding Group, which includes breeds such as the German shepherd dog, collie and Pembroke Welsh corgi.
The Cane Corso, the Icelandic sheepdog and the Leonberger became eligible for conformation competition last summer, becoming the AKC's 165th, 166th and 167th recognized breeds. Prior to that, the bluetick coonhound, redbone coonhound and Boykin spaniel were added to the AKC's breed stable in late 2009. The Irish red-and-white setter, Pyrenean shepherd and Norwegian buhund became AKC-eligible on Jan. 1, 2009.
Only registered members of the AKC's 170 recognized breeds may compete in conformation competition -- the trotting-around-the-ring stuff you see at televised shows such as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. But in recent years, the AKC has expanded its nonconformation events -- notably obedience and agility -- to members of its Canine Partners program. Mixed-breed dogs and purebred members of breeds not recognized by the AKC are eligible to participate in Canine Partners.
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-- Lindsay Barnett
Top photo: Namina, a Xoloitzcuintli, left, and Eowyn, a Norwegian lundehund, at the AKC's offices in New York City on Jan. 26. Credit: Gary Gershoff / Getty Images for American Kennel Club
Bottom photo: A Norwegian lundehund, left, an Entlebucher mountain dog and a Xoloitzcuintli with their handlers at the AKC's offices. Credit: Gary Gershoff / Getty Images for American Kennel Club