Here's a great trivia question to ask your dog-loving friends: How many breeds are recognized by the American Kennel Club? If you think back to the parade of dogs at last-year's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, you know the list is long. And it gets longer every year because the AKC accepts new breeds into the ranks of the privileged almost every year.
We won't keep you in suspense any longer: As of January 2011, there are 170 AKC-recognized breeds. The alphabetical list begins with Affenpinscher, Afghan Hound, and Airedale Terrier, and it ends with Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Xoloitzcuintli, and Yorkshire Terrier.
Between those two ends of the alphabet are the six most-recently recognized breeds. And they are…
Bluetick Coonhound—This athletic and hardy breed is believed to be descended from the Grand Bleu de Gascogne and, possibly, the English Foxhound. As you can guess from its name, the Bluetick Coonhound has a blue coat—dark blue, to be precise—and is covered in a ticking (mottled) pattern.
Boykin Spaniel—This medium–sized hunting dog may be new to AKC-affiliated dog shows, but it's long been a favorite in South Carolina, where it is the official State Dog.
Cane Corso—The AKC describes this breed as "noble" and "majestic." This breed, which hails from southern Italy, was historically used to guard property and hunt wild boar. It wasn't until 1988 when the Cane Corso made its way to the world beyond the Italian peninsula.
Icelandic Sheepdog—If you collect stamps, you may have seen this breed on postage stamps from its native country. In Iceland, this breed is greatly loved as a pet and working dog. Today's Icelanders have their Viking ancestors to thank for bringing these hard-working dogs to the region.
Leonberger—Named for the area where it originated (Leonberg, Germany), this multi-purpose working dog is an excellent family dog that loves children. Their pleasant, eager-to-please personality also makes them a good choice as therapy dogs.
Redbone Coonhound—You've probably already guessed from the name that this breed is distinguished by its red coat. In addition to its attractive color, the Redbone Coonhound is known for its hunting and swimming abilities.
How are breeds added to the official AKC list?
The American Kennel Club follows an established protocol in the acceptance procedure. First, there must be reliable and verifiable documentation that the breed has been breeding true for many generations. Second, there needs to be an interest in the breed in the United States. Third, an AKC-recognized national dog club must be willing to act as the breed's "parent club."
What about all the other breeds?
Some breeds that are not—as yet—officially recognized by the AKC fall into the Club's "Miscellaneous Class." This classification is reserved for breeds that are awaiting their eligibility status to compete in variety groups at AKC shows. Once a breed earns this classification, the AKC Board of Directors will consider full recognition if it meets the established criteria.
These breeds are so new, they haven't been added to the Pedigree.com Breed Gallery yet. So, for more information about these and other AKC-recognized breeds, visit the American Kennel Club's website at www.akc.org.