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‘At-Risk Breeds’ in the Show Ring

GCH CH Kiarry’s Pandora’s Box,
An American Foxhound, the Rarest AKC Breed

My regular readers are aware that I have a soft spot for those breeds that populate the bottom of AKC’s annual registration report. After all I inked a column on the subject the very first week I published Dog Show Poop back in 2008. I once was owned by a Sealyham Terrier, a breed that I think deserves to be one of the most popular in the registry, but that’s a discussion for another day. The Sealyham is currently 163rd in the registry and, though no longer in the bottom 10, still is what the British call “an at-risk breed”.

AKC does not publish statistics on the actual numbers of registrations, but talking with Sealy breeders at the Montgomery County Kennel Club’s annual gathering of Terrier enthusiasts, most agreed that there were no more than 50 registrations in the US last year and probably not more than 150 worldwide. It is widely believed that a full 25 percent of the AKC registry may be “at risk.” However, it’s not all bad news.

I have frequently opined that dog shows are our platform to promote the purebred dog. It’s the only place where the public can come and see the breeds as they are intended to be. While some may take exception to that, even the snarkiest among them would agree that they would rather the public get its breed education at an AKC show rather than from air-headed Hollywood PETA zombies. Who would have predicted that three of AKC’S Top Ten Dogs All Breeds would come from breeds in the bottom 25 percent of the registry?

The American Foxhound is dead last in popularity in the US. Surely the breed’s original purpose, leading the horses after the fox, no longer recommends it to the general public. However, anyone with a standard suburban backyard and an active lifestyle would find their home the better for the company of this breed. Meet the Number Ten Dog All Breeds, the American Foxhound, GCH CH Pandora’s Box. Jewel was bred and is owned & handled by Lisa Miller. Rounding out team “Jewel” are breeder/owner Harry Miller and owner Ellen Charles.

GCH CH Szumeria’s Wildwood Silver Six Pence

The Kuvasz comes in at 148 in popularity. At 30 inches tall and weighing over 100 pounds, this is not a dog for an apartment. The Kuvasz was bred to guard livestock and protect the household. While suspicious of strangers, the Kuvasz is dedicated to its family. Meet the Number Seven Dog All Breeds, the Kuvasz, GCH CH Szumeria’s Wildwood Silver Six Pence. Tanner’s team consists of breeders/owners Lynn Brady and Connie Townsend, co-breeders Bea & Clay Page, owners Mercedes Vila & Claudia Muir, and handler Diana Wilson.

GCH CH Banana Joe V Tani Kazari

While ranking a lowly 139th in popularity, an Affenpinscher has been in the Top Ten Dogs four of the last five years. The engaging monkey-faced dog is one that will fit into any home. Meet the Number Five Dog All Breeds, GCH CH Banana Joe V Tani Kazari. The Dutch-born Joey was bred and is owned by Mieke Cooymans, co-owned by Zoila Truesdale and handled by Ernesto Lara.

The Harrier, GCH CH Downhome Hitech Innovator
(Photo courtesy of AKC)

In next to last place in popularity is the Harrier. Yet we have had two Harriers in the top rankings in the last five years. The Harrier, was bred to hunt the hare (I’ll refrain from Elmer Fudd references), but would be just as happy with a brisk walk daily. Meet this year’s Number Two Hound and Number 15 Dog All Breeds, the Harrier, GCH CH Downhome Hitech Innovator. Chet’s father, Downhome Family Tradition, was the Number Eight Dog in 2008. Chet was bred by Susan Lowder, and Ken and Miriam Nell, is owned by Carla & Joe Sanchez, and handled by Jorge & Suzie Olivera.

Other at-risk dogs which have climbed into the Top 100 Dogs All Breeds are the Clumber Spaniel, GCH CH Clussexx Collaboration With Traddles; the Beauceron, GCH CH Beowolf Rime Des Monts Du Lac; the Pharaoh Hound, GCH CH Faouziah’s Faramir; the Xoloitzcuintli, GCH CH Bayshore Giorgio Armani; the Puli, GCH CH Cordmaker Rumpus Bunpus; the American Water Spaniel, GCH CH Waterway Game Crk Hot Diggity; and the Skye Terrier, CH Of Skyeline Captain Hook, the 133rd, 144th, 151st, 155th, 156th, 157th & 164th most registered breeds respectively.

Everyone in the dog show world owes a debt to the breeders, owners and handlers who have kept these breeds in the public eye. I truly believe if enough people see these breeds at our shows and are told that the beautiful animals could disappear from the planet in just a few years if our politicians don’t stop persecuting the dedicated people who breed these animals, the more likely these icons of human history will be around for our great-grandchildren to enjoy. And that’s today’s Back Story.

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.
  • Marcy November 3, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    I definitely agree with quality over quantity! I work with an FSS breed (the Czechoslovakian Vlcak). We have about 70 dogs in the US and are healthily and steadily growing in numbers in the hands of a great group of committed owners and breeders – we fear the day our breed becomes “popular”! :-) Even with small numbers, the wonders of sperm-banking allow genetic diversity to remain even without huge numbers, and allow breeds to remain in the hands of people who truly love for and care for them.

  • Alan Southern November 4, 2012 at 4:46 AM

    As a new owner of a Harrier a great article.

  • Linda Deutsch
    Linda Deutsch December 29, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Good article!
    I feel a need to comment on Billy’s important closing line “… If our politicians don’t stop persecuting the dedicated people who breed these animals …”

    Most of our politicians; local, state, and federal have absolutely NO experience with animal husbandry! Their total education is at the hands of the well funded, well organized, and dedicated animal rights organizations who have been accepted as the “go to” EXPERTS on all matters animal (a force spearhead by HSUS) whose disguised underlying mission is to do away with all animal use and ownership, and, yes, that includes US!
    It is past time for the dog fancy to start looking beyond our individual breeds and interests and organize and mobilize to project ourselves as the “go to” experts for our naive politicians, replacing our nemesis, on which politicians currently rely for guidance. Attending State House & Committee hearings on legislative proposals, I am appalled at the respect these groups of legislators hold for the state HSUS director, and their dismissive attitude towards testimony from NAIA and the State Federation of Dog Clubs. At a local level most of the proposed negative legislation is suggested to naive politicians by Local AR Groups, often with the support of the State HSUS Director. Legislators, believing them to be the experts sponsor &/or sign on to what they perceive as “feel good” pieces of legislation.
    We need to be innovative in ways to reach out to the public and the media, to educate the public and ultimately promote ourselves as the experts, and true advocates for animals. We need to learn to reframe the issues & be proactive on legislative issues rather than only reactive.
    AKC Government Relations Department held a great conference in January of 2012 with informative & motivational speakers and innovative ideas. NAIA holds great annual conferences with similarly motivational and educational presentations. Neither of these organizations has the manpower to implement their message, and suggested activities in the myriad communities, counties and states. It is up to us as individuals, clubs, and State Federations, to embrace & institute these ideas and activities in our communities and begin presenting ourselves as the truly concerned and the “go to experts”. We need to engage our politicians wherever possible in our activities, and be creative in additional ways to make them aware of our expertise. This will not occur by merely being passive responsible breeders and promoting and enjoying our animals through competitions. The AR Zealots have latched onto political opportunity with a tenacity and changed the arena. Being squeaky clean breeders is no longer enough. Our continued apathy will lead to our demise.

  • Larkin Vonalt December 29, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Yes, and ask every other American Foxhound breeder in the country how much they think Lisa Miller is doing for the breed. I’d be happy to provide addresses.

  • potrero
    alexia fino December 29, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    And of course the Lowchen! I am a new Lowchen enthusiast and I believe these little lions are one of the best kept secrets of the dog world. I also exhibit and breed Cane Corsos and our little Lowchen gets along great with the big kids.

    However with the huge amount of popularity that Corsos have, I find having a rare breed like Lowchen to be a relief. I believe Lowchen breeders have done a wonderful job of keeping the breed a secret although a little more recognition would be nice.


  • Lisa Wright December 30, 2012 at 5:44 AM

    Thanks for your kind words regarding Sealyham Terriers. We love them, too. We are working hard here in the heartland to make sure they continue to gain favor among the public. They are hardy, sweet and smart.

  • LYNDA MARSH December 30, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    The American Foxhound was NOT bred to lead the horses after the fox = it was instead developed to hunt on its own, since the heavier set English Foxhound was to heavy to keep up with the American fox in the heavy underbrush. The American was able to run the fox, up to 14 hours at a time, and dispatch it on its own. It truly was a capable hound, whether running on its own, or in a pack, it could do it all!

  • Francis Bauer December 22, 2014 at 1:25 PM


    You gotta love those cute little terriers. I love the photos on your website. I hope to be on your website one day. I recently purchased a Cane Corso from http://sanroccocanecorso.com I hope to show him in the Spring. ,Fran

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