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Unique Among Shows Across the Globe: The Eukanuba World Challenge

There is one single element of the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship dog show that definitively sets it apart from every other event on the planet, and that is the Eukanuba World Challenge. No place else do fanciers have the opportunity to see, in the flesh and in one place, top winning dogs from all across the globe.

The Eukanuba World Challenge was launched in December 2007 with top dogs from 37 FCI registries plus the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S. The dog food company developed the competition in cooperation with the American Kennel Club and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. Registries in the invited countries were allowed to establish their own criteria for selecting the dogs that would represent their nations. AKC appointed the winner of the previous year’s AKC/Eukanuba National Championship as its representative.

The dramatic opening ceremony of the Eukanuba World Challenge, when each competitor enters the ring with the flag of the country it represents, is a fitting preface to the one-of-a-kind competition.

In 2008, 12 countries were added to the original 40: Bulgaria, China, Columbia, Cyprus, Estonia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Philippines, Taiwan, Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela. The preliminary judging was done in four sections: Europe and Africa 1, Europe and Africa 2, Asia and Oceania, and the Americas. In 2009 the primary change was that the winners from three major FCI events – the FCI Americas, FCI Asia and FCI Europe Winners shows – would now be invited.

Each year that this ever-evolving event has taken place, different countries have sent representatives, and various small changes in the list of invitees, and indeed in different countries’ selection criteria, have been made. One year the winner of the Eukanuba Breeder Stakes was invited. That same year the U.S. was represented by the previous year’s AKC/Eukanuba Best Bred-by-Exhibitor in Show. While the invitation list varies, one thing is for certain: the cast of characters who come to compete includes some of the world’s top winners, and this is the only show on the planet where you can see such a collection of the world’s best purebred dogs.

Eukanuba has demonstrated its commitment to this event with its pocketbook. The company pays all expenses not only for each dog to travel to the U.S., but also for two humans to accompany each dog. And they are apparently perfect hosts. After her visit to Orlando for the World Challenge in 2011, Margaret Anderson, breeder/owner-handler of the Lhasa Ch. Zentarr Elizabeth, was quoted in Our Dogs as saying, “The Eukanuba team was amazing; everything was taken care of, dogs and exhibitors, right down to every detail. They treat you like royalty,” she said.

Like everything else about this event, the judging panels are carefully chosen. While national kennel club officers from around the world and FCI officials are often among the arbiters, each and every person invited to pass on the World Challenge competitors is an experienced dog person, many who have been successful breeders, and they are often popular judges around the world as well.

Of course, in the tradition of the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, the winners take home cash prizes. The World Challenge winner is awarded $10,000, the runner-up $3,000 and the first runner-up $2,000.

Year One

The judges invited to pass on the 2007 entry were FCI vice president Karl Reisinger of Austria; Luis Teixeira of Portugal; Miguel Martinez of Argentina; and Hiroshi Kamisato of Japan.

That first year competitors were divided into three preliminary categories: Americas and Canada; Asia and Oceania; and Europe and Africa. Because this made one section much larger than the others – Europe and Africa had 28 competitors, while the other two categories had just five and seven – in later years the preliminary categories were restructured. Then as now, preliminary judging took place in the afternoon, with the final in the evening in the main arena.

The judges had their work cut out for them, as that first year each preliminary judge sent just one dog to the final. All of the invited dogs were multiple Best in Show winners, many of them their country’s top dogs. When the event ended, the last dog standing was ASCOB Cocker Spaniel Ch. Very Vigie Vamos A La Playa, chosen the winner by judge Reisinger. Representing Switzerland and Mr. Kamisato’s selection from the Europe and Asia section, ‘Vamos’ was bred and owned by Laurent Pichard and Joelle Doucet, and handled by Hughes Schuh.

ASCOB Cocker Spaniel Ch. Very Vigie Vamos A La Playa was the winner of the inaugural World Challenge under judge Karl Reisinger, handled by Hughes Schuh.

From the Americas and Canada section, judge Teixeria chose Doberman Pinscher Ch. Wizard Black De Akido San to go to the final, and he became the runner-up. He was bred by the Akido San kennel, owned by Andrea Laruccia, Carlos Souto, P. Cannizzaro and E. and T. Souza, and handled by Miguel Vera. From the Asia and Oceania section, judged by Mr. Martinez, Border Collie Ch. Border Lane JP Moonshining Jasper became the first runner-up. He was bred and owned by Hideka Tamura and handled by Tatsuki Oneyama.

2008

The next year, 2008, saw the largest entry ever, with dogs from 52 countries competing. The Europe and Africa section was divided into two parts, since it included the largest number of dogs. Preliminary judges were instructed to select three dogs from each section, allowing spectators to see more of the dogs in the big arena in the evening and making for a very exciting and competitive finale.

The five judges were FCI president Hans Muller; Paolo Dondina of Italy; England’s Andrew Brace; our own Edd Bivin; and Rafael DeSantiago from Puerto Rico.

Saluki Ch. Dakira Sawahin, representing Germany and breeder/owner-handled by Dagmar Hintzenberg-Freisleben, won the World Challenge 2008 under judge Hans Muller.

From the Americas section, judge Dondina selected Sealyham Terrier Ch. Efbe’s Hidalgo at Goodspice (USA), bred by France Bergeron of Canada, Doberman Pinscher De Lex Luthor Flash Dance (Argentina), bred by Maria and Norberto Diaz, and Xoloitzcuintli Ch. Tenango (Mexico), bred by Guadalupe Arena.

From the Asia and Oceania section, judge Brace moved forward Toy Poodle Ch. Smash JP Three Belle Jackpot (Australia), Toy Poodle Ch. Smash JP Talk About (Japan), both bred by Yukiko Omura, and Toy Poodle Ch. Nacko of Snow Castle Kennel (Taiwan), bred by Yuh-Shan Song.

From Europe and Africa section 1, judge Bivin chose Standard Poodle Ch. Afterglow The Big Tease (U.K.), bred by Michael Gadsby, Old English Sheepdog Villa’s Paradiso Denali (Sweden), bred by Ingela and Per Wallstrom, and Siberian Husky Ch. Simba del Karraces (Spain), bred by Juan Carlos Bernados Carracedo.

And last, from Europe and Africa section 2, Sr. DeSantiago selected as finalists Pembroke Welsh Corgi Ch. Dragonheart (Italy), bred by Farnedi Marcello, Newfoundland Ch. Skippers Emperor King of Helluland (Hungary), bred by Bela Siklo’si, and Saluki Ch. Dakira Sawahin (Germany), bred by Dagmar Hintzenberg-Freisleben.

Runner-up and first runner-up in 2008 were Sealyham Terrier Ch. Efbe’s Hidalgo at Goodspice, with handler Margery Good, and Toy Poodle Ch. Smash JP Talk About, with handler Toshi Omura.

Mr. Muller, who is an all-breed judge and officiates all over the world, chose as his winner the breeder/owner-handled Saluki from Germany, Ch. Dakira Sawahin. America’s Sealyham Terrier ‘Charmin,’ owner-handled by Margery Good, was the runner-up, while Toy Poodle Ch. Smash JP Talk About was the first runner-up, handled by Toshi Omura. The Sealy had been Best in Show at the 2008 World Show and AKC/Eukanuba in 2007, and would be Best in Show at Crufts in 2009, and the Toy Poodle had been Best in Show at the 2007 World Show in Mexico.

2009

Judges for the third World Challenge were Greg Eva, president of the Kennel Union of South Africa for 22 years; Roberto Velez-Pico, FCI executive director; Sergio Lopes Meira DeCastro, president of the Brazilian national kennel club, the Confederação Brasileira de Cinofilia; Carla Molinari, president of the Clube Portugués de Canicultura, the kennel club of Portugal; and judging the final, Frank Sabella of the U.S.

A Bracco Italiano from Italy, Ch. Axel Del Monte Alago, won the 2009 World Challenge under Frank Sabella, handled by his owner, Bitte Ahrens.

This year the 40 competitors were randomly assigned to one of four sections, with 10 dogs per section, instead of being divided by geographical region. Finalists from section one, judged by Carla Molinari, were Staffordshire Bull Terrier Ch. Sylon Leo (South Africa), bred by Mrs. L. Van Niekerk, and Pointer Ch. Cookieland Seasyde Hollyberry (U.S.), bred by Anthony and Amy Cantor and Chery Laduc. Also in this category was the U.K.’s 2009 Top Dog of all breeds, Wire Fox Terrier Ch. Blackdale Carousel, bred by Harry O’Donoghue and handled by her owner, Andrew Goodsell, who qualified by winning the FCI European Winner show.

From section two, judged by Greg Eva: Puli Ch. Cordmaker Topsy Turvy (Australia), bred by Sue Huebner and Penny Kelly, Borzoi Ch. Jubilee Celestial Lumination (Japan), bred in the U.S. by Cynthia and Paul Gredys, and Doberman Pinscher Ch. De Lex Luthor Flash Dance (Argentina), who was a repeat finalist from the previous year.

From section three, judged by Roberto Velez-Pico: Saluki Ch. Shiraz California Dreamin’ (Sweden), bred in the U.S. by Michael and Elena Edwards and Valerie Nunes-Atkinson, Wire Fox Terrier Ch. Sanherpinc Arepa (Brazil) bred by Santiago Pinto, who is from South America but is now an American professional handler, and 15-inch Beagle Ch. Orobay Back to Reality (Philippines), bred by Rhonda Telfer.

Saluki Ch. Shiraz California Dreamin’ was runner-up at the World Challenge 2009 under Frank Sabella. Photo by Lisa Croft Elliott.

From section four, judged by DeCastro: a Toy Poodle finalist from last year, Ch. Smash JP Three Belle Jackpot (Taiwan), the Thai Ridgeback bred by Pitak Kampita, Ch. Silver Ja Saak (Puerto Rico) and the Bracco Italiano bred by Anna Maria Matteuzzi, Ch. Axel Del Monte Alago (Italy).

The Bracco, ‘Axel,’ wowed the crowd with his huge, athletic side movement around the big ring and what can only be called star power. He wowed Mr. Sabella as well, and became the World Challenge winner, handled by his owner, Bitte Ahrens. He was also owned by Salvatore Tripoli of Rome. The California Dreamin’ Saluki, ‘Harley,’ a top dog in Sweden, was the runner-up. He is owned by Nicklas and Ingunn Eriksson, and handled by Nicklas.

Wire Fox Terrier Ch. Sanherpinc Arepa, handled by Divoney Rasera, was the first runner-up in 2009 under Frank Sabella.

Wire Fox Terrier Arepa was the first runner-up. Victor Malzoni of Brazil, now familiar to American’s as the owner of several recent top dogs including the current top dog of all breeds ‘Oakley,’ was Arepa’s owner, and she was handled by Brazilian professional handler Divoney Rasera.

2010

Carla Molinari was the judge for the final this year. The four preliminary judges were Jaime Ganoza, president of the Peruvian Kennel Club; Desi Murphy of the U.S.; Sean Delmar, president of the Irish Kennel Club; and Stefan Stefik, president of the Slovak Kennel Club.

In 2010 the two dogs competing from the U.S. were Golden Retriever GCh. Rush Hill’s River Road Payoff, the 2009 Best Bred-by-Exhibitor in Show at AKC/Eukanuba, and the Doberman Pinscher Ch. Foxfire’s Love Monster, Best in Show at the 2010 Eukanuba Breeder Stakes finale.

Judge Carla Molinari selected Doberman Pinscher Ch. Alex De Akido San as the World Challenge winner in 2010. He was handled by Miguel Vera.

Once again competitors, 42 this year, were randomly assigned to one of four sections. Judge Ganoza selected from section one the Greyhound bred by Cecillie and Knut Blutecher, Ch. Showline Sporting Step (Norway); the Newfoundland bred by William and Amanda Dobin, Ch. Fairweather’s Knock Out with Brooklyn Bear (U.K.); and the Doberman Pinscher bred by Andrea Fabiana Laruccia, Ch. Alex de Akido San (Argentina).

From section two, judge Murphy chose the Borzoi bred by Garnett Thompson, Tomme Trikosko and Richard Mason Terry, Ch. Sunburst Huntsman at Mechta (Japan); the Afghan bred by Ramon Podesta Valenzuela, Ch. Zurah Bint Rashid von Haussman (winner of the FCI Americas show); and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi bred by Marina Volkova, Ch. Andoval Pinkerton (Russia).

Standard Poodle Ch. Huffish Intensive Care, owned by his breeders Lotta Sandell, who handled him, and Peter Palmedais, was runner-up in 2010.

Section three finalists under judge Delmar were the Standard Poodle bred by Charlotte Sandell and Peter Palmedals, Ch. Huffish Intensive Care (Sweden); the Pug bred by R. Siravit Sitprija, Ch. Woodstock Strauss Orchestra (Philippines); and the Toy Poodle bred by Toshi Omura, Ch. Smash JP Vocalist (Singapore).

From the final section, judge Stefik selected the Bernese Mountain Dog bred by Kimberly Groves, Ch. Avatars Try Try Again (Canada); the Samoyed bred by Barbara Burns and Wolfgang Stamp, Ch. Samantic Only You (Germany); and the Doberman Pinscher bred by Michelle Santana and Sophia Koster, Ch. Foxfire’s Love Monster (U.S.A.). It’s worth noting that the Berner was the Top Dog in Canada in 2009.

First runner-up in 2010 was the Japanese representative, Borzoi Ch. Sunburst Huntsman at Mechta, handled by Yoshio Harada.

Carla Molinari selected for World Challenge winner Doberman Pinscher Ch. Alex De Akido San, handled by Miguel Vera for owners Andrea Laruccia, Natalia Colombo, and Tony and Sheila DiNardo of the U.S. The first runner-up was Standard Poodle Ch. Huffish Intensive Care, owned by his breeders Lotta Sandell, who handled him, and Peter Palmedais. First runner-up was Borzoi Ch. Sunburst Huntsman at Mechta, owned by Yukiko Aminaka, co-owned by Gengi Ozeki and handled by Yoshio Harada.

2011

In 2011 the judges were Enrique Filippini of Argentina, Barbara Müller of Switzerland, C. V. Sudarsan of India, Zena Thorn-Andrews of England and Tamas Jakkel of Hungary.

The American representative, Australian Shepherd Ch. Propwash Reckon, was the World Challenge winner in 2011, handled by Judy Harrington. Photo by Lisa Croft Elliott.

Forty-one dogs competed, again in four sections. Judge Müller chose for her finalists Toy Poodle Ch. Smash JP Moon Walk (FCI Asia winner), bred by Yukiko Omura, Puli Ch. Cordmaker Field of Dreams (Australia), bred in the U.S. by Pat Turner, Anna Quigley and Alice and Steve Lawrence; and Xoloitzcuintli Tecoman (Mexico), a repeat player from the prior year. The Puli, ‘Conrad,’ was the 2010 Westminster Group winner and the 2009 Number 1 Herding dog and Number 3 among all breeds in the U.S., handled by Linda Pitts.

Puli Ch. Cordmaker Field of Dreams, Xolo Tecoman and Toy Poodle Ch. Smash JP Moon Walk were finalists in 2011. The Toy Poodle was ultimately runner-up. Photo by Lisa Croft Elliott.

Judge Sudarsan selected from section two Lhasa Apso Ch. Zentarr Elizabeth (U.K.), bred by Margaret Anderson; Kerry Blue Terrier Ch. Rollick’s Super Hero (Croatia), bred by Charlotta Mellin; and Tibetan Terrier Ch. Atisha’s Blanc De Noir, bred in the U.S. by Sheryl Schultis.

From section three, judge Thorn-Andrews sent to the final Afghan Hound GCh. Mijkelh Sakinni of Procyon (Canada), bred by Lynn and Fred Haywood; Smooth Fox Terrier Ch. J’Cobe Kemosabe Vigilante Justice (Brazil), bred in the U.S. by Stacy Turner and William Dalling, Number 1 dog of all breeds in the U.S. in 2010 and Number 1 of all breeds in Brazil in 2011, owned by Victor Malzoni; and the 2010 World Challenge defending champion, Doberman Pinscher Ch. Alex De Skido San (FCI Americas/Carribean winner), bred by Andrea Fabiana Larvccia.

Doberman Pinscher Ch. Alex De Akido San, left, the defending champion, and the 2010 American Top Dog of all breeds, Ch. J’Cobe Kemosabe Vigilante Justice, were finalists in 2011. Photos by Lisa Croft Ellliot.

Dr. Jakkel chose from section four the previous finalist Saluki Ch. Shiraz California Dreamin’ (Sweden); Scottie Ch. Filsite Brash Celebration (Russia), Reserve BIS at Crufts in 2010, bred by Valentina Popova; and GCh. Propwash Reckon (USA), bred by Leslie Frank.

Judge Filippini awarded the World Challenge title to the American Australian Shepherd, Ch. Propwash Reckon, owned by breeder Leslie Frank and Judy Harrington, who handled him. Runner-up was the Toy Poodle, Ch. Smash JP Moon Walk, handled by Toshi Omura, whose Smash Toy Poodles have really taken the entire world by storm. The first runner-up spot went to Lhasa Apso, Ch. Zentarr Elizabeth, who was handled by her breeder/owner Margaret Anderson.

Eng. Ch. Zentarr Elizabeth, Best in Show at Crufts 2012 under Frank Kane, was the first runner-up in 2011, and returns in 2012 to compete.

2012

The primary change made for 2012 is that dogs that were Best in Show at “the world’s most prestigious shows,” including Crufts and the World Show, were added to the invitation list. This means that the 2011 first runner-up, Lhasa ‘Elizabeth’ will compete once again, since she was the Best in Show winner at Crufts. It also means that Saluki Harley will make another appearance in the World Challenge ring, as he was the victor at the 2012 World Show in Austria.

As always, this very special competition promises to be fascinating for connoisseurs of purebred dogs. Among the competitors are the Doberman that’s Top Dog in Argentina, the Dal that’s Top Dog in Australia and the Peke that was Top Dog in Canada in 2011. Then there’ll be the white Standard Poodle, Top Dog of all breeds in Denmark, whose pedigree traces back to American Top Dog Ch. Lake Cove That’s My Boy.

There will be the Finnish Lhasa whose descendants, Eng. Ch. Saxonsprings Hackensack and Eng. Ch. Saxonsprings Fresno were BIS at Crufts and Dog of the Year in England, respectively; the Old English Sheepdog who was the 2012 Crufts Pastoral Group winner and 2011 FCI Champion of Champions; the Akita that was Number 1 dog of all breeds in the Netherlands in 2010 and 2011; and the Corgi that was Reserve BIS at the World Show in Austria. That’s just the tip of the iceberg! Where in the world could you ever see all these great dogs gathered in one place? Only at the Eukanuba World Challenge.

Photographs of the 2012 competitors can be seen on the Eukanuba World Challenge Facebook page. Here are the dogs invited for this year’s event:

1. Argentina Doberman Pinscher De Lex Luthor Storm Black, owned by Norberto and Gracelia Diaz
2. Australia Dalmatian Ch. Paceaway Atrosemount, owned by Fran Matthews, Rona and Dianne Besoff and Glen Vernon
3. Austria Afghan Hound Gold’n Copper Born to Run, owned by Margarete Mayer
4. Belgium Pug Winsome’s Gold Standard, owned by Christine Sonberg, Bjorn Erling Loken and Trond Torre
5. Brazil Doberman Pinscher A Monde’s Marla the Prima Donna, owned by S. Capps, E.J. Martinelly and O. Broda
6. Bulgaria Bullmastiff Game Keeper’s Play My Game, owned by Todor Baev
7. Canada Pekingese Am. Can. Ch. St. Niklaus of Elsdon, owned by R. William Taylor
8. Czech Republic Tosa Inu Abenji Big Luck, owned by Gabriela Pavlíčková
9. Denmark Standard Poodle Ch. Abica’s Miles Ahead, owned by Kirsten Nielsen, Mikael Nilsson and Kathy Arnold

Ch. Abica’s Miles Ahead will represent Denmark in this weekend’s World Challenge.

10. Finland Lhasa Apso Chic Choix Cleopatra Eurydice, owned by Piia Helistola-Laurila
11. France Coton de Tuléar Ever Smiling des Fleurs d’Aloes, owned by Sandy Lejeune
12. Germany Cavalier KCS Miletree Constellation, owned by Klaus Vonderstrausse, Markus Kirschbuum, R. and P. Towse
13. Hungary OES Ch. Bottom Shaker My Secret, owned by József Koroknai
14. Ireland Bichon Frise Ir. Eng. Ch. Ashmair Double Act Jun, owned by Ashling Connolly
15. Italy Italian Greyhound Oh y God dei Raggi di Luna, owned by Sergio Anconetti
16. Japan Siberian Husky Misanga JP Lavender, owned by Sachiko Nomura

The 2012 representative from Portugal is Bracco Italiano Nicodemo Del Tavuliddaro.

17. Malaysia Siberian Husky Ch. Nando’s Yankee Doodle of Innomas (Imp USA), owned by Robert Kau and Frankie Yong
18. Malta Wire Fox Terrier Eng. Mlt. Ch. Travella Special Feature, owned by Johann Schembri and Ivan Calleja
19. Mexico Basset Hound Morningwood Luciano, owned by Maria Eugenia Lieberman
20. Netherlands American Akita Ruthdales U Cant Touch This, owned by Marcel Huls
21. New Zealand Miniature Poodle Aust. NZ Ch. Westprior Black Giorgio, owned by Yvonne and John Stanton
22. Norway Kerry Blue Terrier Shyloch Navigator to Edrus, owned by Helge Kvivesen
23. Philippines Beagle Ch. Barcken Chosen One, owned by Bon Reyes, Mary Montelibano and Donato Poblador
24. Poland Irish Setter Lofty Desperado, owned by Ewa Wójcik

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Andvol Pinkerton will represent Russia at the World Challenge 2012.

25. Portugal Bracco Italiano Nicodemo Del Tavuliddaro, owned by Elsa and Miguel Colaco
26. Puerto Rico French Bulldog multi Ch. Twinstar Flight of Fantasy, owned by Joaquin Rosa and Rene Vazquez
27. Russia Pembroke Welsh Corgi Andvol Pinkerton, owned by Olga Shuvalova
28. South Africa Maltese Ch. Fabulous Moment Valentina’s Magic (Imp Slovenia), owned by Heidi Rolfes
29. South Korea American Akita Redwitch Don’t Think Twice, owned by Sangpil Hwang
30. Spain Pomeranian multi Ch. Sunterra Sizzling Hot, owned by Julio Martinez de Marigorta Fernandez and Lucrecia Garcia Anover
31. Sweden Wire Fox Terrier Crispy Legacy, owned by Agneta Åström
32. Switzerland Tibetan Spaniel Boo Boo of Lollipop, owned by Pascale and André Kolly-Badan

Representing Thailand in 2012 will be Bulldog Ch. Bully Hill James Dean.

33. Taiwan Ch. James of Snow Castle Kennel, owned by Yu-Sang Sung
34. Thailand Bulldog Ch. Bully Hills James Dean, owned by Phusit Ratanakulsereroengrit
35. U.K. Bichon Frise Ch. Arthlorn’s Ready to Rumble, owned by Nigel and Trudy Blythin
36. USA Standard Poodle GCh. Jaset’s Satisfaction
37. Crufts BIS Lhasa Apso Ch. Zentarr Elizabeth, owned by Margaret Anderson
38. 2012 World Show BIS Saluki Ch. Shiraz California Dreamin’ Harley, from Sweden, owned by Nicklas Eriksson and Ingunn Solberg Eriksson
39. FCI Europe Lhasa Apso GCh. Zentarr Morgan, owned by Margaret Anderson and Stefano Paolantoni
40. FCI Americas Afghan Hound multi Ch. Fashionista of Damos, owned by Juan Miranda and Rosa De Miranda
41. FCI Asia BIS Yorki Hocus Pocus Wild Fantasy, owned by Nanta Tansacha

Written by

Christi McDonald is a second-generation dog person, raised with a kennel full of Cairn Terriers. After more than a decade as a professional handler’s apprentice and handling professionally on her own, primarily Poodles and Cairns, she landed a fortuitous position in advertising sales with the monthly all-breed magazine ShowSight. This led to an 11-year run at Dogs in Review, where she wore several hats, including advertising sales rep, ad sales manager and, finally, editor for five years. Christi is proud to be part of the editorial team for the cutting-edge Best In Show Daily. She lives in Apex, N.C., with two homebred black Toy Poodles, the last of her Foxfire line, and a Norwich Terrier.