This year's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will look a little different as there will be dogs from seven new breeds welcomed to strut their stuff for the judges. This is the greatest number of new breeds to the show in a single year since 2000.
For a dog breed to be invited to compete at Westminster, the breed must be recognized by the American Kennel Club and there must be at least a few hundred individuals of the breed in the United States. This year's newcomers include the miniature American sheepdog, the Boerboel, the Bergamasco sheepdog, the Lagotto Romagnolo, the Berger Picard, the Spanish water dog and the Cirneco dell’Etna.
Here's a closer look at each one:
Miniature American sheepdog
The miniature American shepherd is full of curiosity. (Photo: Norsk Miniature American Shepherd Klubb/Facebook)
The miniature American shepherd is known for its "wicked sense of humor," according to the breed's profile on the Westminster website. It's a relative newcomer, bred in the U.S. in the 1960s as a herding dog. These small pups are known to be versatile, energetic and curious.
The Boerboel, also known as the South African mastiff, was originally bred as a farm dog. These dogs are known to be strong, agile and very brave — surviving in harsh South African conditions. They are also protective, calm and confidently composed.
=Don't let the offbeat coat fool you: The Bergamasco sheepdog is a serious contender. (Photo: Stefano Tinti/Shutterstock)
The Bergamasco sheepdog is a strong muscular dog that was originally bred in the Italian Alps as a herding dog. The Bergamasco's unique coat is made up of three different types of hair that weave together into loose mats. This large dog, which weighs about 60 to 80 pounds, does surprisingly well on agility courses.
The Lagotto Romagnolo, also known as the Italian water dog, has amazing endurance and an excellent sniffer. This makes these dogs great for truffle hunting. It also means that they love to dig. And their thick, curly coats help protect them from thorns and branches while they forage.
The Berger Picard (pronounce it "bare zhay pee car") is an ancient breed that was almost completely wiped out in World War I and WWII and is still considered quite rare. These sheepherding dogs are known to be energetic, observant and alert.
Spanish water dog
The Spanish water dog is an athletic breed that does well on agility courses. They are hardworking and affectionate dogs that aim to please their owners.
A loving family dog, the Cirneco dell'Etna is thought to be a descendant of the Egyptian Anubis. Cinercos (pronounced “cheer-nec-kos”) are hardy, intelligent and good-natured dogs that have been bred in Sicily for more than 2,500 years.