Westminster Dog Show to Debut 2 New Breeds

Meet the two newest American Kennel Club breeds: Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (left) and Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen (right). BIGANDT.COM/Shutterstock; Eelco Roes/flickr

Two new dog breeds will strut their stuff next month at the king-of-all-dog competitions, the Westminster Dog Show.

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje and Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen will join the ranks of about 3,200 other dogs, reports The Associated Press. The Kooikerhondje has been added to the sporting breed group while the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen has joined the hound groups.

westminster dog new breed
Bandit, the 2-year-old Nederlandse Kooikerhondje, doesn't seem too bothered by all the media. Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Buzz Lightyear, the 4-year-old Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen, and Bandit, the 2-year-old Nederlandse kooikerhondje, will be competing in this year's competition on Feb. 10-12.

Westminster Dog Show press conference
Buzz Lightyear, a Grand Bassett Griffon Vendeen, poses for photos on the Top of the Rock Observation Deck in New York. Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

New breeds are only added to the show after being recognized by the American Kennel Club, and the process can take years. These two were officially recognized by AKC in January 2018 and join 190 breeds.

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje: Perky and adaptable

A Nederlandse Kooikerhondje posing
Nederlandse Kooikerhondje are spaniel-type dogs of Dutch ancestry. Burner83/Wikimedia Commons

Sound it out: Netherlands-e Coy-ker-hond-tsje. Not too hard, right? Well, if you're still tripping over it, you can call these agile little dogs Kooikers (koy-kers) instead.

Kooikers started as lures for ducks in the Netherlands. The dogs would weave in and out of cages and enclosures to attract a duck into the cages so that hunters could then sell them. While this practice has faded, Kooikers are still used to attract ducks, but now for research purposes. Given this history, the Kooikers are "well suited to agility, rally, obedience, barn hunt, dock diving, etc." according to AKC.

Karen Parker, a Kooiker owner since 2014 and vice president of the Kooikerhondje Club of the USA, explained to AKC that this breed is terrific for families and socializing, but definitely needs a little bit of training.

"Basic obedience classes, where all family members are involved, help immensely. They are fun loving, energetic, and happiest being with their people at all times. We have lots of families that like to hike, swim, paddleboard, and kayak with their dogs. Conversely, these dogs love to spend time relaxing at home," she said.

According to Parker, Kooiker can do fine in apartments and the suburbs provided they get enough exercise and stimulation, but they'll thrive with a large yards and places to run.

Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen: A fluffy hound

A Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen stands during a competition
The Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen has long-served as a French hunting dog. Томасина/Wikimedia Commons

The Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen (pronounced grahnd bah-say grif-fon vahn-day-ahn, or you can just say GBGV) is a rare breed in the U.S., according to AKC, with fewer than 400 dogs in the country. The low numbers are in part because all GBGVs are imported from Europe and because they're difficult to breed. Adding to challenges is that health tests in the U.S. are much more rigorous than tests in Europe.

"This breed has a very small gene pool, and getting new pedigrees that will pass health clearances is not easy," Corey Benedict, president of the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America, told AKC.

Getting the breed off the ground required, according to Benedict, "dogs that have passed health tests in order to establish a base line for future generations and insure the preservation of the quality of the breed."

The breed does well with families, but it needs its human to be a clear leader — or it will become the leader itself. Benedict recommends crate training the breed as a puppy.

Cindy Wilt, a member of the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America board of directors, told AKC that the breed does well in just about any environment provided it gets enough physical activity and socializing.

Picking the new breed of dogs

The path to becoming an AKC-recognized breed is a long and winding one.

First, "rare" breed (meaning they have a small population in the U.S.) dog clubs must submit a multi-decade and well-tracked breed history to AKC. Breed standards and photos of both adults and puppies are also required to prove that several generations of the dog breeds "true" with consistent characteristics.

Second, the breed must work to be recognized in the "Miscellaneous" class of dogs. This requires at least 100 households from across the country forming clubs, and the national club must prove there are between 300 and 400 third-generation individuals of the breed in the country. Clubs must be present in at least 20 states, and the national club must change its breed standards and bylaws to match AKC's.

Once the breed is recognized in the Miscellaneous class, it can begin competing in companion and performance events and traditional dog shows, but it cannot earn any championship points. Breeds are often in this class for up to three years, but there's no set time for how long a breed stays in Miscellaneous. At the end of the first year, the AKC will review population updates, litter sizes and the number of dogs that have entered competitions. Clubs must have also held their shows, breed seminars and judging workshops.

Finally, once all that time has been put in, AKC's board of directors will vote on whether or not the breed will receive full recognition. If it receives enough votes, the breed is eligible for registration and may compete in AKC events and sports appropriate to its class.