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Meet the Newbies

The Bergamasco, Boerboel, Spanish Water Dog, and Cirneco dell-Etna

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Get to know these four breeds newly recognized by the AKC!


A sheepdog with a strong work ethic, the Bergamasco’s most unique characteristic is its coat, which contains “dog hair,” “goat hair,” and “wool” that combine to form black or gray felt-like mats. The mats grow over the course of the dog’s life, reaching the ground at approximately six years of age. (The coat can actually smell like a sweater when it is wet!) Despite its formidable appearance, the Bergamasco is really a trim, athletic sheepdog underneath all those dreadlocks.


The Boerboel is a large dog that is strong, confident, and muscular with a distinctive, blocky head. Despite its size, it is the most agile of the mastiff-type breeds. Boerboel mean “farm dog” and the breed serves as a capable working dog as well as a loyal companion in its home country of South Africa. The skin of a Boerboel should be dark on the stomach and under the fur, as well as the roof of the mouth, which protects against heat and sun. The coat is a short and dense and can be brindle, brown, cream, reddish brown or tawny.


The Spanish Water Dog is upbeat and playful but also work-oriented. A very active, medium-sized breed, it is faithful, hardworking, and lively. Affectionate with family yet a vigilant watchdog, this herding group breed does best with lots of playtime and a job to do!


The Cirneco dell’Etna has been present in Sicily for over 2500 years and shares a common origin with the Pharaoh Hound and other breeds throughout the Mediterranean basin. As a hunter of small mammals and fowl, the Cirneco is a hardy, compact dog that was successful in hunting under adverse conditions—think high heat, on rugged terrain formed by volcanic lava, and with little food or water over extended periods of time. The affix “dell’Etna” is derived from Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe.

Lucky enough to attend the show?
Check into the venerable Hotel Pennsylvania, aka the heart of the action. Located directly across the street from Madison Square Garden where Best in Group and Best in Show take place, this hotel is the temporary home to a lot of the competitors, meaning you can say hello to many of the top dogs and their owners and handlers, up close and personal. Simply strolling the lobby and viewing the dogs is half the fun!

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