NEW YORK – A sporty Hungarian farm dog and small pet of bygone Russian aristocrats are the newest breeds to join the American Kennel Club’s purebred lineup.
The club announced on Tuesday that it recognized the Russian toys and the mudi. That means they can compete for the best in show at many US dog shows, including the AKC’s grand annual championship and the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show.
The Mudi (pronounced as “capricious”) descended from long lines of Hungarian shepherd dogs before a museum director became interested in the breed and gave it a name around 1930. Fans say the medium-sized, shaggy dogs are strong, versatile, and hardworking. Tend sheep, hunt wild boars, catch rats and compete in dog sports such as agility and dock diving.
“They’re very astute and they have a subtle quality” and are very trainable, but they have to do something, said Kim Seiter, a canine agility trainer from Oak Ridge, New Jersey who has four of them. “You are not for the inactive person.”
The dogs – the correct plural is “mudik” – were depicted on postage stamps in their homeland in 2004, as were some other Hungarian breeds.
Russian toys evolved from small English terriers that were popular with Russian elites in the early 18th century. The tiny dogs – which are supposed to weigh no more than 2.7 kg – have a long-legged silhouette, a cheeky expression, and a lively demeanor, say breeders.
“They are very affectionate” to their owners, but can be reserved with strangers and have to meet a lot of new people as puppies, says Nona Dietrich from Minnetonka, Minnesota, breeder and member of the Russian Toy Club of America. “And they’re funny. They have quite an attitude.”
The AKC is the oldest registry for purebred dogs in the United States. It recognizes 199 breeds, including the two newcomers, and acts as the governing body for many dog shows.
Recognition requirements include at least 300 dogs of the breed distributed in at least 20 states and the proclamation of a breed standard that indicates the ideal traits from temperament to toe. Many popular hybrid or “designer” breeds such as Labradoodles and Puggles go undetected, but it is possible that they could one day be if breeders decide to pursue them.
Some animal rights and welfare advocates deplore dog breeding and the purebred market, saying they are encouraging puppy mills and stranding adoptable pets in animal shelters.
The AKC says that breeding can be done responsibly, retaining some predictable traits that will help people find and commit to the right dog for them.