New breeds make National Dog Show debut in 2020

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The National Dog Show on Thanksgiving showcases America’s most popular breeds like the Golden Retriever, the German Shepherd and the Lab. But this year, the National Dog Show welcomed several new breeds to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.

The Barbet, which competes in the Sporting Group, originated as a water dog in France. The breed has a curly coat that can be black, gray, brown, or fawn in color, sometimes with white markings. Their shaggy heads end with a distinct beard.

This calm, friendly breed is athletic and was originally bred to retrieve birds. Because of that, the modern Barbet is a keen swimmer and hunter. The breed’s name comes from the French word “barbe,” which means beard. The Barbet almost died out after World War I and II, but lovers of the breed have worked hard to grow its reach.

Related: What to know about the 2020 National Dog Show, Watch the 2020 National Dog Show

The Dogo Argentino, which falls under the Working Group, was originally a pack-hunting dog in Argentina. The breed was known to take down wild boar and puma, among other large game. The breed was created by Dr. Antonio Nores Martinez in the 1920s and it became the first and only dog from Argentina recognized by the AKC.

Dogo Argentinos have short, white coats, but a dark patch near the eye is permitted as long as it doesn’t cover too much of the head. The breed is athletic and requires a lot of exercise but generally has a friendly temperament.

The Belgian Laekenois (“Lak-in-wah”) joins the Herding Group. This strong, sturdy and protective breed has a rough, tousled coat that can be shades of red, fawn or grey. The breed is especially smart and quick to learn and obey commands. He was not represented in group judging at the 2020 National Dog Show.

The Belgian Laekenois was originally bred and raised to guard livestock and linens drying outside before serving as messenger dogs during WWI and WWII, after which it almost went extinct. Belgian Laekenois dogs are the rarest of the Belgian herding dogs, which also include the Belgian Sheepdog, Malinois and Tervuren. The breed’s name comes from the Belgian town of Laeken.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Dog Show washeld without spectators, vendors, sponsors or media. Judging was done following strict safety guidelines, including social distancing, wearing masks and monitoring temperatures of all participants. Competition was limited to 600 dogs, a 70% decrease from the nearly 2,000 who compete in a regular year. Read more about the National Dog Show’s COVID-19 safety protocols for the 2020 edition.