The 139th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: Old and New

February 11, 2015
Coton de Tulear

Coton de Tulear | Photo: AKC

This coming weekend begins the multi-day canine spectacular known as the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) Dog Show. The annual event is the second oldest continuous sporting event in the United States, ranking number two to the Kentucky Derby, one year its senior. Dog lovers can spend Valentine’s Day watching the second annual Master’s Agility Competition at Westminster or meeting over 100 different purebred dogs at the AKC Meet the Breeds show. The WKC Show takes place Monday and Tuesday, February 16 and 17. Daytime events are at Piers 92 and 94 (711 12th Avenue at 55th Street). The evening events, Best of Group and Best in Show, can be seen at Madison Square Garden where the Show has been held for 139 years.

Every Year Beau-tee-ful Dogs!
Nothing new here. The WKC Show will feature nearly 3,000 gorgeous dogs, at least one dog representing each of the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) 184 registered breeds. Leading the pack in terms of numbers are America’s family dogs, the Golden Retriever with 58 entries and Labrador Retrievers with 56. The breed represented by the fewest number of entrants is the Norwegian Lundehund with one ‘lone wolf’ entrant. These truly are rare dogs; I checked The Animal Medical Center’s (AMC) 57,638 dog registrations and found only three Norwegian Lundehunds. This Norse breed features six toes on each foot and a neck so flexible, the top of their head can touch their back, both advantageous adaptations for hunting puffins on the icy slopes of Norway. Like most Artic breeds, they have a thick coat to help them withstand frigid temperatures.

New Breeds at the Show
The list of 184 AKC breeds includes two breeds newly recognized by the American Kennel Club that will be seen at Westminster for the first time: the Coton de Tulear in the Non-Sporting Group and the Wirehaired Vizsla in the Sporting Group. The veterinarians at The AMC know the Coton well as they are popular pets in NYC and we have 145 of them as patients. Since the Wirehaired Vizsla was not imported to the United States until the 1970s, they are not well known. Seeing the Wirehaired Vizslas at the WKC Show will be a special treat since none of these Hungarian hunting dogs have been seen as patients at The AMC.

New Arrivals for 2016
We already know that next year there will be four new breeds ready for participation in the 2016 WKC Show: the Spanish Water Dog, the Cirneco dell’Etna, the Bergamasco and the Boerboel. Except for the Spanish Water Dog, the list appears to be more like a spelling bee challenge than names of dogs!

As Always, The AMC Will Be There
The AMC’s veterinarians will be in attendance for emergency care at both the Piers and the Garden from Saturday until the 2015 Best in Show is named. The AMC will also have an information booth at Meet the Breeds on Saturday (Booth #131 Pier 92) and at the WKC Show on Monday and Tuesday (#44 Pier 94). Please stop by and say hello.


Dog Breeds in the News

February 5, 2014

For pet lovers, there has been exciting news about dog breeds recently. In less than a month, the American Kennel Club (AKC) will introduce three new breeds at the upcoming Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) Dog Show in New York City. The WKC Show, February 8-11, 2014, will allow dogs of any breed or no breed at all to enter their new agility competition, which will be held on Saturday before the big show. Finally, both The Animal Medical Center and Pets Best Insurance announced their top ten dog breeds, based on the number of pets we care for and they insure.

rat terrier

Rat Terrier

Old Dogs, New Club
The Portuguese Podengo PequenoChinook and Rat Terrier are new only to the AKC dog show ring. One of the most ancient of dog breeds, the Portugese Podengo Pequeno, came to Portugal from Asia Minor around 1000 B.C. This lively hound is related to other ancient breeds such as the Pharaoh Hound and the Basenji. The Rat Terrier is a home grown breed developed early in the 19th century from European terriers imported by immigrants to the United States. The Chinook is another American breed, most famous as the State Dog of New Hampshire, where the breed was developed. For more on these new AKC breeds, listen to David Frei, the voice of Westminster, on NPR. 

And the Top Dog is…
A comparison of the top ten breeds seen at The AMC, insured by Pets Best Insurance and holding AKC registrations shows some interesting trends:

top 10 dog breeds 2013

The Labrador Retriever, Dachshund and Yorkshire Terrier made all three top ten lists. The mixed breed dog topped both The AMC and Pets Best lists. No surprise here, since AKC does not include mixed breed dogs in their registration. Also on two of the three lists were several small breed dogs, such as the Chihuahua, Shih Tzu and the Maltese Terrier, possibly influenced by the dogs of Paris Hilton or Halle Berry. The ever steady German Shepherd Dog and the much maligned Pit Bull Terrier also made two of the three lists. Unique to the AMC list were the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Pomeranian, probably reflecting apartment dwellers selection of a small dog.

Seeing Fewer Spots
Breed popularity comes and goes with popular culture. The movie 101 Dalmations sparked a national craze for the spotted dogs. In 2005, the Dalmatian ranked number 47 in the list of dog breeds seen at The AMC. This past year, Dalmatians dropped in the ranking to 100 as dog owners fell in love with different breeds, for example the French Bulldog.

A Rising Star Among the Breeds
According to Pets Best Insurance, a number of breeds have gained popularity in recent years. In their database, the French Bulldog has seen the most dramatic rise. In 2006, the French Bulldog was the 55th most popular dog breed enrolled with Pets Best. By 2013, this small, muscular pooch soared up the list to become the 19th most popular breed. While Pets Best insures pets nationwide, The AMC’s New York City-based practice reflects the same meteoric rise in the popularity of the French Bulldog. In 2005, Frenchies ranked 30th and our veterinarians cared for 120 individual Frenchies. In 2013, the number of these dogs seen at The AMC has increased 2.5 times to 275 individual dogs.

See More Dog Breeds and Visit the AMC Booth
Like we do every year, The AMC will have a booth in the benching area of the WKC Show on February 10th and 11th. We would love to have you stop by and visit us. You can find us in Booth 16 at Piers 92/94, right alongside the Hudson River at 55th Street and 12th Avenue.

This year, AMC veterinarians have a new role at the 138th WKC show, that of Official Show Veterinarian. Several of our veterinarians will be on site at the Piers and Madison Square Garden, which showcases the main ring events, on both nights to triage any emergencies that could arise.

If you are not a fan of purebred dogs, this year there will be mixes, mutts and Heinz 57 type dogs at the Masters Agility Championship at the WKC Show.

We hope to see you all there!


Meet the Breeds: Ask a Question

October 9, 2013
Dr. Ann Hohenhaus at the 2013 AKC Meet the Breeds Show

Dr. Ann Hohenhaus at the 2013 AKC Meet the Breeds Show

During the last weekend of September, The Animal Medical Center staffed an information booth at the American Kennel Club’s annual Meet the Breeds Show at New York City’s Jacob Javits Center. I spent several hours answering questions from pet owners on Sunday afternoon. The questions were important ones for all pets, so I decided to share my answers with everyone through The AMC blog.

Are caterpillars toxic?
A concerned dog owner found her dog snacking on the big, furry caterpillars that had invaded the potted plants on her terrace. Certain insects can injure pets if they are venomous, like wasps or bees. Most caterpillars are not venomous and are not listed as toxic on Animal Poison Control or Pet Poison Hotlines‘ websites. Although Survivorman eats caterpillars, the hairs on the skin of certain ones can be very irritating and for me, just thinking about a dog swallowing these hairy little creatures makes me gag. It is best not to let your dog (or cat) eat caterpillars, but consumption of one or two probably carries a low level of risk.

Is a one hour walk a day enough for my older dog?
Just like your doctor recommends you practice a well-rounded fitness routine, your dog needs more than a walk on a nice flat street. The Mayo Clinic recommends exercise include aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, stretching, core exercise and balance training. Challenge your dog by walking up and down hills. Be sure to include games like fetch to encourage your dog to run to increase her heart rate. Don’t forget to include stairs as part of your dog’s routine. For stretching and balance fitness, view The AMC’s exercise tips for dogs.

My 7 month old Chihuahua has a pink lump that comes and goes in the corner of his eye. Is this serious?
Without seeing this dog, I can only speculate as to what the problem is. However, I am guessing the dog has a condition veterinarians call “cherry eye.” Cherry eye is the tear gland from the third eyelid, an important source of tears to keep your dog’s eyes moist, and it occurs most commonly in Cocker Spaniels and English Bulldogs. The AMC’s ophthalmologist, Dr. Alexandra van der Woerdt recommends the gland be tacked back into place during a minor surgical procedure to preserve its function. The cause of cherry eye is suspected to be a weakness in the ligament that holds the gland in place.

My dog woke up one morning and couldn’t walk, so I gave him some of my medications and now he’s better. Should I keep giving the pills?
The answer to this question is not about pills but about the need to see your veterinarian to get pet-safe prescriptions. Every year, thousands of dogs and cats are sickened from accidental ingestion or purposeful administration of human medications. Veterinarians do sometimes prescribe human medications for dogs and cats, but you should never give your pet any medications without clearing it through your veterinarian first.


Can I Have a Dog? Pony? Bunny? 10 Tips for Petless Families

July 26, 2012

Recently, the news has featured many stories about TomKat. No, not a story about a feline, but the ongoing saga of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. One story that caught my eye involved their daughter Suri having a tantrum in a pet store because her mother would not buy her a Morkie, a dog she wanted.

In every family without a pet, there is at least one child begging for one. But for health reasons, travel, or time in the daily schedule, a pet does not always fit into the family’s lifestyle. There are, however, other ways, even without owning a pet of your own, that you can bring animals into your family’s life. Here are my top ten tips to add the fun and adventure of animals to your family without actually owning a pet:

1. Attend the local animal show. The owners of dogs, cats, birds and reptiles love to show off their pets and talk to children about responsible pet ownership. In New York City we have the annual Meet the Breeds dog and cat show, but there are smaller local shows as well.

2. Volunteer to walk dogs at your local shelter or to help socialize the cats residing there.

3. Be a foster pet family. My local rescue group is always looking for host families for cats in need. I wrote about my experiences with my foster cat family last spring.

4. Head to your local library and check out some books on pet care. For the toddler set, try the series about “Sally,” a black Labrador retriever who visits the veterinarian, or for a comprehensive pet care overview, try the Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health.

5. Participate in your library’s reading program featuring certified therapy dogs to promote reading skills in children. Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) has local programs nationwide. Therapy Dogs International sponsors “Tail Wagging Tutors.” What could be better than helping your dog-loving child read better?

6. Volunteer to pet sit for a neighbor while they are on vacation.

7. Become a member of your local zoo. Many zoos have an area where children can pet the animals. In the New York metropolitan area the Wildlife Conservation Society, which includes the Bronx Zoo, the Queens Zoo, the Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and the New York Aquarium, has hands-on programs for various age groups, as well as educational exhibits and free demonstrations daily. Some zoos even have sleepovers!

8. If your child is an electronic wizard, there are a variety of electronic games related to pet care. Games are available for multiple game platforms and on the Internet. Try Hamsterz, Dr. Daisy Pet Vet, Paws & Claws, Pet Vet, or Webkinz.

9. Research the high schools in your district to see if they have a specialized program related to animals, such as the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, or the Kansas State University co-sponsored high school program in Olathe, KS.

10. Volunteer at a pet outreach program at your local hospital, Ronald McDonald House, or senior citizens home. The program coordinator will know of a pet volunteer that you can “borrow” for the visits.

If your child is like Suri Cruise and wants an animal, but your inner Katie Holmes tells you a full-time pet is not right for your family, offer your pet-loving child one of these opportunities until the time is right for your family to love a pet of its very own.


Meeting the Breeds and Choosing a Healthy Dog for Your Family

November 18, 2011

Visit The AMC's booth this weekend!

No other animal on earth may be found in greater variety than the domestic dog. Lovers of purebred dogs are enamored of these creatures for a variety of breed-specific features. Some are partial to large dogs like the Bull Mastiff, others to small ones like the minute Xolo. Some dog lovers are drawn to long-coated dogs like the Bearded Collie; others, to dogs with an untamed haircoat like the Chinese Crested. For some people, the attraction to a particular breed of dog is not its physical characteristics, but its skills. For example, the trustworthy Labrador is a wonderful guide dog.

Whatever breed you fancy, you can find it at the 2011 “Meet the Breeds” show at New York City’s Javits Center on November 19-20, 2011. Billed as an event where families can meet 160 dog breeds and over 50 cat breeds, the event promises to have something for everyone.

Consider This
From my veterinary viewpoint, health is a critical issue when choosing a family dog. Before selecting a new puppy for your family, do your homework. Everyone in the family, a dog included, will have health issues during their lifetime. By knowing your breed’s issues up front, you will be better equipped to detect and monitor problems early. To get started, check the website of the national breed club for your breed. Most national breed clubs devote a section of their website to the health issues AND the ongoing research into those issues for their particular breed.

New Research Helps
Owners of new puppies often ask their veterinarian, “What can I do to keep my new dog healthy for a long time?” Recently published research gives dog owners some insight into this issue. Researchers reviewed the medical records of over 70,000 dogs and classified the cause of death by breed. This information helps owners of purebred dogs to monitor for disease related clinical signs and intervene before a crisis occurs. In this study, Dachshunds were most likely to die from neurological disorders. This is likely related to Dachshunds’ “bad back” and the problems associated with protruding disks common to this breed. Weight control and proper exercise can help to avoid this problem. Like humans, older dogs are more likely to die of cancer and five breeds were associated with an increased risk of cancer: Bernese Mountain Dog, Golden Retriever, Bouvier des Flanders, Scottish Terrier and Boxer. Owners of these dogs must monitor every lump and bump on their dog and have each one evaluated. Large breed dogs more commonly die of musculoskeletal diseases. Owners of large breed dogs need to keep their dogs in ideal body condition since overweight and obese dogs develop more musculoskeletal disorders.

Involve the Family
Every family member needs to be involved in monitoring and caring for the family dog. Adults are ultimately responsible for managing the canine family member’s healthcare issues, but getting buy-in from all members will simplify the process. Even the youngest child can promote a healthy lifestyle for the family dog by not feeding the pet from the table. The extra treats will result in obesity and a shorter lifespan and the behavior is just plain bad manners! Every dog needs obedience training and this is a perfect opportunity to involve older children. Obedience trained dogs are less likely to be involved in bite incidents and are also less likely to suffer from separation anxiety – a major cause of relinquishment of dogs to rescue groups and animal shelters.

See You There
Don’t miss this great opportunity to meet wonderful purebred dogs, ask questions about them and learn which one is the best one for your family. Stop by The Animal Medical Center booth to say hi! You can meet some of the staff and veterinarians who work with us and ask questions about your dog’s health.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit http://www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


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