NEW YORK (Reuters) - A kuvasz can search the entire Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show without finding another dog like him.
The same is true of a plott, an Anatolian shepherd dog, a Norwegian lundehund and an Entlebucher mountain dog, all obscure breeds represented by a single entry this year at the dog show, which was due to crown its best in show dog later on Tuesday.
“He’s a kuvasz,” Diana Wilson, the handler of a 4-year-old called Tanner, told confused-looking dog lovers visiting the benches backstage at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday evening.
“A what?” someone asked.
“A kuvasz,” Wilson said.
She gets that a lot, Wilson said. The large, white-haired dog originally bred to serve Hungarian royalty was the 151st most popular breed in the country last year, according to the American Kennel Club.
Tanner won the best in breed virtually by default, heading straight into the running for the best of the working group competition. But it wasn’t technically a shoo-in - he might not have made it through if, say, he had a limp, Wilson said.
Last year he had only his cousin to compete with, and won. Tanner, who lives with Wilson in Brighton, Colorado, is considered a front-runner for Tuesday’s best in show competition, having been placed the seventh most successful show dog in the country last year, according to Dog News.
“He’s definitely brought attention to the breed,” Wilson said. “They’re a diamond in the rough. I think they definitely deserve to become more popular.”
Nancy Wargas, the owner and handler of the only Anatolian shepherd dog in the competition, said she knew why her breed was so unpopular.
“Most dogs love to please. The Anatolian says your happiness is your problem,” Wargas said. “From when they’re born they think, ‘You’re lucky to have me.’ If you throw a Frisbee they will go fetch it back the first time. If you throw it a second time, they’ll look at you like you’re stupid, ‘Go get it yourself,’ and they’ll just lie down.”
Piper, a 23-month-old who is competing in the working group, is one of 12 Anatolians that live with Wargas on her farm in Rowland, North Carolina, herding sheep and scaring coyotes away from the property.
“You either don’t like them or you’re addicted to them,” she said.
Editing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Sandra Maler