With dogs and cats having been domesticated for thousands of years, many of the breeds we know and enjoy today originated in other countries. However, there are some dog and cat breeds that are truly all-American. In the spirit of July 4th, and to announce Meet the Breeds ” a showcase of over 200 dog and cat breeds that will take place in New York City this fall ” the American Kennel Club® (AKC) & the Cat Fanciers’ Association® (CFA) are celebrating the unique history and heritage of dog and cat breeds developed on American soil.
American Dog Breeds:
American Foxhound — One of America’s native breeds, the American Foxhound is also one of our rarest. This tall hound sports a close, hard coat that can be any color. The American Foxhound’s origins date back to the early 1700’s in Virginia and Maryland. George Washington is not only the Father of our country but the father of the American Foxhound. As a master breeder he often referenced his hounds in his journals.
American Eskimo Dog — Contrary to popular belief, the American Eskimo Dog is not descended from working sled dogs. The “Eskie,” as it is nicknamed, originated in the Spitz family of dogs, also known as the Nordic breeds. In the past, it was called the American Spitz. During the 19th century, in this country, Eskie’s were most commonly found in communities with German immigrants. Later in that century, the Eskie became a popular dog for use in traveling circuses throughout the U.S. The AKC first registered this breed in 1995.
American Water Spaniel — The American Water Spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin. The breed was developed primarily in the Great Lakes region of the United States in the mid 1800s. They were the first breed developed in this country as an all-around hunter that could retrieve from boats. The virtue of this sporting breed — its ability to swiftly, efficiently, and merrily retrieve game — has long been appreciated in the United States. This affectionate and easily trainable sporting breed was first registered with the AKC in 1940.
American Staffordshire Terrier — The American Staffordshire Terrier is considered an “all-American” dog. It has been developed since the early 1800’s and was instrumental in the success of farmers and settlers, and was used for general farm work, hunting wild pigs, bears, and other large game, guarding the homestead, and general companionship. Until the early 19th century, the Bulldog used for bullbaiting in England was more active and longer-legged than the breed as we know it today. It is thought that the cross of this older Bulldog and a game terrier breed created the Staffordshire Terrier. The breed was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1936.
Boston Terrier — The state dog of Massachusetts, this breed is known as the “American gentleman” because of his calm disposition and formal black and white “tuxedo” markings. Developed in Boston, MA as his name suggests, he is a product of the English Bulldog and a white English Terrier. In 1889, a group of fanciers in Boston began showing the early ancestors of today’s Boston Terrier. The Boston Terrier was first registered by the AKC in 1893.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever — The state dog of Maryland, this true American breed is thought to have originated from two puppies that were rescued from an English shipwreck in 1807 off the coast of Maryland. In the late 1800s, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was renowned for its ability to retrieve hundreds of waterfowl a day from the icy waters of the Chesapeake. The Chesapeake coat, which is very dense and has an oily texture, allows the dog to easily deal with extreme weather conditions. Its slightly wavy coat sheds profusely in the spring and requires daily brushing. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was first registered with the AKC in 1878.
Plott — The state dog of North Carolina, powerful and well-muscled, the Plott can bring big game such as bear or boar to bay or tree with its determination, endurance and courage. Today Plotts are also used for coonhunting. The breed’s smooth, glossy coat can be any shade of brindle (a streaked or striped pattern of dark hair imposed on a lighter background), solid black or have a saddle or markings. This breed joins five other Coonhound breeds – Black and Tan Coonhounds, Redbone Coonhounds, American English Coonhounds, Bluetick Coonhounds and Treeing Walker Coonhounds – developed for hunting raccoons throughout early American history. Today, AKC holds competitive Coonhound events in which dogs compete in hunts for titles and prizes. Coonhounds are judged on their abilities to strike, run, and tree wild raccoons. In keeping with AKC coonhound regulations, there is no contact permitted between the hounds and the raccoons.
Other American Breeds include the Australian Shepherd, Cocker Spaniel, and Toy Fox Terrier. Learn about all 161 AKC registered dog breeds at www.meetthebreeds.com and at the Javits Center on October 17th & 18th, 2009.
American Cat Breeds:
American Curl — On a typical hot June day in 1981, a stray longhaired black female cat with funny ears mooched a meal from Joe and Grace Ruga in Lakewood, California, and moved in. “Shulamith” is the original American Curl to which all bonafide pedigrees trace their origin. Selective breeding began in 1983 and they were first registered by CFA in 1986. Distinguished by truly unique ears that curl back in a graceful arc offering an alert, perky, happily-surprised expression, people break out into a big smile when viewing their first Curl.
American Shorthair — The American Shorthair’s ancestors came to North America with early settlers from Europe. Records indicate that the “Mayflower” carried several cats to hunt ship’s rats. For centuries, “working cats” flourished along with their pioneer owners and eventually established themselves as the native North American shorthaired cat. Their beauty and loving nature came to be valued as much as their rat-catching skills. The American Shorthair was one of the first five registered CFA breeds.
Maine Coon — The state cat of Maine, the Maine Coon is the native American longhaired cat and was recognized as a specific breed in Maine where they were held in high regard for their mousing abilities. Through natural breeding, this breed has developed into a sturdy cat ideally suited to the harsh winters and varied seasons of the region. The Maine Coon is well known for its loving nature, sweet disposition and great intelligence. Maines are especially good with children and dogs and have always been a popular and sought after companion.
Ragdoll — Ragdoll cats tend to be more interested in humans than some breeds of cats. They are known to run to greet you at the door, follow you from room to room, sleep with you, and generally choose to be where you are. They are gentle cats, and usually play without extending their claws. Ragdolls tend to be floor cats, not jumpers. The Ragdoll’s semi-long coat is plush and silky, and requires minimal grooming to keep it looking its best. They should be combed on a regular basis. In all, Ragdolls are well behaved, and easy to care for ” perfect for our modern, busy, lifestyles.
Other American cat breeds include the American Bobtail, American Wirehair, Burmese, LaPerm, Ocicat, and Selkirk Rex. Learn about all 41 CFA recognized pedigreed cat breeds at www.meetthebreeds.com and at the Javits Center on October 17 & 18th, 2009.
Editor’s Note: AKC and CFA have photos available upon request. To request copies, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-696-8343.