By Linda Cole
The American Kennel Club is adding three new dog breeds to their pack this year, which makes them eligible to compete in the Westminster Dog Show. The new inductees – the Lagotto Romagnolo, the Miniature American Shepherd and the Berger Picard – bring the total number of breeds recognized by the AKC up to 187.
Lagotto Romagnolo – Sporting Group
Pronounced La-go-toh Roman-yolo, this webbed footed, curly double-coated dog is one of Italy’s most ancient breeds. Lagotto means “duck dog.” Also known as the Romagna Water Dog, the breed dates back to Roman times. Developed in the marshlands of Romagna in northeastern Italy, this small to medium sized dog was developed and used for centuries as a premier water dog, and has remained unchanged over the years. The Lagotto Romagnolo is believed to be the foundation stock for all modern day water dog breeds.
Sometime during the 1800s, Italy began to drain their marshlands and convert the land to farming. It caused a sharp decline in the population of the breed, as their reason for existing dried up with the marshlands when the flocks of waterfowl began to disappear. But these intelligent, clever and energetic dogs found a new purpose thanks to their super sense of smell, their digging ability, and an abundance of energy. The Lagotto evolved into one of the best truffle hunting dog breeds in Italy and elsewhere. This gentle and sensitive breed is recognized as the only purebred dog in the world specialized as a truffle hunting dog. However, these dogs have retained their water dog hunting skills and continue to be hardworking dogs on land and water.
The Lagotto Romagnolo excels in dog sports like agility and gun dog trials, and loves to swim. These dogs are quick to learn new things, but can be manipulative which makes them not such a good choice for first time dog owners. Reserved with strangers, they are extremely loyal, devoted and affectionate with their family, including children, and are good guard dogs. Always alert with a desire to dig and strong instincts to hunt, especially waterfowl, the Lagotto should not be allowed to run off leash. Fully grown adults stand 17-18 inches high and weigh around 24-35 pounds. Their coat color can be off white, brown, brown roan, orange, or brown and white. Because they are working dogs at heart, daily exercise is recommended. The Lagotto Romagnolo makes a good hiking buddy or jogging partner.
Miniature American Shepherd – Herding Group
Like Australian Shepherds, Miniature American Shepherds can have blue, brown or one of each colored eyes. A favorite breed of equestrians because of their size, it’s not uncommon to see Miniature American Shepherds at horse shows. The breed was developed in the late 1960s in California by a woman named Doris Cordova who wanted to create a smaller version of the Australian Shepherd while keeping the intelligence, energy, loyalty, dependability and easygoing temperament of the Aussie. The Miniature American Shepherd is identical in appearance to the larger breed in every way except size. Cordova began to breed the smallest Australian Shepherds from each litter. Eventually she was able to consistently produce litters of the smaller version.
Even though the Miniature American Shepherd is a small dog, 14-18 inches and weighing in at 17-30 pounds, he should not be fed dog food formulated for small breeds. The best choice for active breeds is a premium quality food like CANIDAE. This is an energetic dog who needs a proper diet that will provide him with his daily nutritional needs, along with plenty of physical and mental stimulation.
Miniature American Shepherds are intelligent, athletic, playful, protective and calm. He’s an extremely versatile herding dog for corralling smaller stock like goats and sheep, but are tenacious enough to work larger stock as well. Their small size makes them perfect traveling companions, and they are at home in a city or country setting. Their guarding instincts are strong, they are after all herding dogs, and will bark out an alert when needed. If you’re into jogging, this breed would be a good running companion. He is naturally gentle and good with children. Like any working dog, this canine is happiest when he has a job to do.
Berger Picard – Herding Group
The 2005 heartwarming movie “Because of Winn Dixie” is based on a book by Kate DiCamillo. It’s about a 10 year girl named Opal who finds comfort and a friend when she adopts a stray dog wandering around the parking lot at the local Winn Dixie store. The dog is portrayed as a mixed breed and named Winn Dixie because of where Opal found him. However, Winn Dixie is actually a purebred Berger Picard. Langley wrote a very interesting breed profile on this adorable dog breed earlier this year. You can read more about the Berger Picard here.
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