'The National Dog Show' 2013: John O'Hurley and David Frei return for Thanksgiving tradition
(Note: The show repeats at 8 p.m. ET/PT Saturday, Nov. 30, on NBC)
Sponsored by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, the show offers a first look for many at the new breeds added to the American Kennel Club roster of purebreds, which will compete in early 2014 at the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York.
Again offering commentary are actor/singer/musician John O'Hurley and canine expert David Frei, who points out one great advantage of purebreds, which were developed to breed true to type, generation after generation.
"They are all 4-pound balls of fluff at one point in time," says Frei to Zap2it, "but you'd better think about what they're going to be like as an adult, because the bulk of their life is going to be with you as an adult.
"If you're surprised by what they grow up to be as an adult, that can often end up with a dog that lands in a shelter."
With more than 170 breeds -- and size/color/coat varieties within breeds -- prospective dog owners seeking something to fit their lifestyles and their homes have plenty to choose from. In 2013, that choice expands to include three breeds that aren't new, but they're new to the AKC roster.
Added to the Working Group is the Chinook, the state dog of New Hampshire, where it was bred to pull sleds. Healthy and robust, these large, tawny dogs with a thick double coat also make good family companions.
"It's a beautiful dog," O'Hurley says. "It's kind of a combination of a husky and a mastiff. It's got a wonderful temperament with kids."
If the Chinook proves a bit too large -- or if you have a rodent issue -- there's the rat terrier, the newest member of the Terrier Group. Easily trainable and highly intelligent, along with being hardy and long-lived (if not very happy to be left alone), the smooth-coated piebald dog comes in miniature and standard sizes, with the bigger one not taller than 18 inches at the withers.
"It's a really cute dog," O'Hurley says. "You have to look at what a little 5-week-old rat terrier looks like -- they are about as cute as they come. They were described to me as a Jack Russell terrier with an off switch."
Also small and energetic is the last newcomer, the Portuguese podengo pequeno. Seen in works of art as far back as the Middle Ages, it's a [usually] yellow dog, often with white markings, with either a smooth or a wire coat, which comes in three sizes, from 8 to 12 inches at the withers. While renowned as a rabbit hunter, today it makes a lively, bright companion that's also a good watchdog.
"I love that," says O'Hurley, "when [the breed name is] something that takes me three weeks to learn how to pronounce. They said they were great ratters on a ship. How many rats can one get on a ship? At some point, you hit critical mass."
While your Chinook, rat terrier or Portuguese podengo pequeno may not pull sleds or chase down small critters, remembering the function for which the dog was created is a useful tool to predicting whether human and pooch will be a match.
"People love them for what they are," says Frei, "and so much of what they are is determined by what they were bred to do. They don't usually get to do it anymore, but that still determines their personality and temperament."