Three months into the show year and some interesting breed matchups have started to develop. The most interesting races are in two groups, Toys and Herding. Now I am talking all-breed points here. I will go out on a limb and say that in most instances I am not a fan of breed points. There are breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, Dobermans and Australian Shepherds, where there are substantial entries at every show, but in too many breeds a win at the National Specialty decides who will be the leader all year in breed points. As prestigious as a National Specialty win is, it is the opinion of one judge. Here are six breeds where I find the competition exceedingly interesting.

GCH CH Banana Joe v Tani Kazari & GCH CH Tamarin Top Banana

For the second year, we have two wonderful Affenpinschers with similar names to watch, GCH CH Banana Joe v Tani Kazaria and GCH CH Tamarin Top Banana. The former, Joey, was 2011’s Number Two Toy Dog. The latter, Topper, was 2011’s Number Four Toy Dog. So far this year, the two are holding that pattern. While Joey has already collected over 14,000 points, twice the number Topper has, I wouldn’t bet my lunch money which one will prevail by year’s end. Joey is based on the East Coast, and Topper makes his home out west. Happily both get around the country a bit. Wherever you are, check out the Affenpinschers. You may get lucky enough to see them both.

GCH CH Chrisman's Shiny Toy Gun & GCH CH Scylla's Small Kraft Re-Lit

My regular readers know that I am a former Maltese breeder and love to stop by the Maltese ring whenever I am at a show. This year we have two Maltese currently in the Top 50 Dogs All Breeds, GCH CH Chrisman’s Shiny Toy Gun, ‘Gunner,’ and GCH CH Scylla’s Small Kraft Re-Lit, ‘Hank.’ At the end of February, they were the ninth and tenth Toy Dogs in the all-breed rankings. I expect these two will be neck and neck all season long. Gunner is based in Texas and can be seen just about anywhere east of the Rockies. Hank is out west, but travels a bit as well. If you only know Maltese from looking at a photo of them on a pretty pillow, you need to get to a show and watch the little white clouds streak around a ring.

GCH CH Riversong’s Doc Holiday & GCH CH Caper's Sirius Endeavor

You can’t look at a Pug’s face without smiling, and I was smiling every day in Louisville watching these two Pugs, GCH CH Riversong’s Doc Holiday, ‘Doc,’ and GCH CH Caper’s Sirius Endeavor, ‘Rufus.’ Rufus was 2011’s Number One Pug, but is trailing a little behind Doc this year, as the Number Five & Number Seven Toy Dogs. These guys are both frequently seen at the same shows up and down the eastern seaboard. If you get to see the two of them together, you will be grinning all day.

GCH CH Rocheuses Me and My Shadow of Cornus, GCH CH Quiche’s Grand Finale, & GCH CH Hatch Tillie de la Salsa

We have three Bouviers des Flandres in the Top Ten Herding Dogs, GCH CH Rocheuses Me and My Shadow of Cornus, ‘Casper,’ GCH CH Quiche’s Grand Finale, ‘Al,’ & GCH CH Hatch Tillie de la Salsa, ‘Hatch.’ I was lucky enough to see all three at Westminster this year and came away thinking judges will have a hard time deciding among these. Spectators will love all three. Hatch is from the West Coast, while Casper hails from Colorado, and Al is in the Great Lakes region. Al & Casper were in Louisville, but because it’s a whole lot harder traveling with a Bouvier than a Pug, I’m not sure when we will see all three together again … maybe Orlando in December?

GCH CH Dalarno Nite Song of Morning Star & GCH CH Coventry Allure at Wyndstar

The last matchup we have for you is also in the Herding Group in Pembroke Welsh Corgis. GCH CH Dalarno Nite Song of Morning Star, ‘Spencer,’ and GCH CH Coventry Allure at Wyndstar are the Number Five & Six Herding Dogs through last weekend, separated by fewer than 100 points. I don’t believe we have seen these two in the same ring yet and with Allie in California and Spencer in the Midwest, we may have to wait until December to see these two together as well.

When you go to shows, check out some of the breeds you don’t normally watch. You may stumble across another great matchup. And that’s today’s Back Story.