My regular readers know that I am a cheerleader for what I will call our endangered breeds. These are the AKC-recognized breeds which log fewer than 200 registrations a year. While collecting results from this past weekend, I was delighted to find a Best in Show by an Otterhound, GCH CH Aberdeen’s Under The Influence, a breed which rarely gets recognized. That got me to asking the question, “Why are some breeds more popular among judges than others?” The answer is easy with the endangered breeds. There are just not that many competing. However, numbers registered and numbers competing are no guarantee of success in the final ring. There have been no big rosettes won by a Labrador Retriever, AKC’s most popular breed, this season and just two Labs have recorded BIS in the last two years.
Here are some of the breeds that are overdue for an all-breed Best in Show. There have been no BIS or even a Group One won by a Boykin Spaniel since the breed’s recognition in 2009. Although the Boykin ranks a healthy 116th out of 177 breeds, I rarely see Boykins at a show. The last Field Spaniel to log a BIS was CH Evans’ Rumor Has It in 2009. One promising Field Spaniel, GCH CH Promenade Pay It Forward, has already logged nine final appearances this year. In the Hound Group, we have seen an American Foxhound, GCH CH Kiarry’s Pandora’s Box, and a Harrier, GCH CH Downhome Hitech Innovator, two of AKC’s rarest breeds, at the top of the rankings these last two years. Far less successful has been the English Coonhound, the least registered of all AKC dogs. Only one English Foxhound, GCH CH Sunup’s Parliament, has won a BIS in the last five seasons.
In this year of the Working Dog, there are several impressive breeds that are routinely overlooked. The Cane Corso, recognized in 2010, and the German Pinscher, recognized in 2003, are both relative newcomers to AKC and have yet to record a BIS. While the Pinscher rarely makes it to the final ring, the Cane are frequently considered and passed over. Terriers are among the most successful show dogs with virtually every breed logging multiple BIS. Only the newly recognized Cesky Terrier and Glen of Imaal Terrier are awaiting a BIS judge to point them out. Considering the last two Westminster Kennel Club BIS went to Toy Dogs, most in the game would think the Group gets more than its share of recognition. Nonetheless, I do think that the Group’s most popular breed, the Yorkshire Terrier, is overdue some love. The last Yorkie BIS was logged in 2010.
The Non-Sporting Group’s Standard Poodles have been among the most consistent BIS winners in AKC. Others in the Group have been less fortunate. The Lowchen, a breed with a striking appearance, rarely makes it to the final ring and last won a Best in Show in 2007. The Finnish Spitz is a more frequent visitor to the BIS ring, but has only taken home the top prize three times in the last five years. In the Herding Group, the Pyrenean Shepherd, recognized in 2009, is still looking for its first BIS. The Belgian Malinois has been around a lot longer, since 1959, but has been overlooked for at least the last seven years.
So whether it’s lack of numbers or lack of interest, I for one would like to see some of the above breeds with the Best in Show rosette. So next time you see one of these breeds in a final, cheer them on. And that’s today’s Back Story.