Just when we thought we'd heard of all 180 recognized breeds, the American Kennel Club brings a new crop of great dogs into the pack.
An Italian working dog and a cuddly cotton-ball canine are among the five newest members of the AKC's Miscellaneous Class, which is the level a breed and its parent club reaches just before it becomes fully recognized. You may not have heard of these dogs yet, but their adoring admirers hope you'll soon fall in love with these rising canine stars.
Miniature American Shepherd
The enthusiastic and persistent Miniature American Shepherd comes from the blending of the Australian Shepherd with the Miniature Australian Shepherd (which is also known as the North American Shepherd). Got all that? As if that's not enough to make your head spin, here's a fun fact: The Australian Shepherd isn't actually from Australia. He was developed by shepherds in the American West! Like his ascendants, the Miniature American Shepherd is a versatile working dog who's easily trained. He stands at 14 to 18 inches and comes in black, blue merle, red and red merle colors.
The Berger Picard started off 2013 by graduating into the Miscellaneous Class in January. This old French herding breed was almost driven to extinction during World Wars I and II but managed to make a comeback and is now gaining popularity in the United States. She's a lively and confident dog with a distinctive rough, tousled coat that won her a starring role in 2005's Because of Winn-Dixie — for which the producers had to import canines from France, since there were no breeders in America at the time.
Spanish Water Dog
The hardworking Spanish Water Dog loves to live an active lifestyle with plenty of fun activities, from herding to swimming. He's a loyal dog who will take his appointment as your family's guardian very seriously, so make sure he's well-trained and properly socialized as a puppy.
Coton de Tulear
According to our data, the happy little Coton de Tulear is one of the hottest dogs in America right now. He jumped from No. 130 in popularity in 2002 to No. 93 just a decade later. And we can see why pet owners are drawn to this affectionate canine's clownish personality and gorgeous cotton-ball coat. If you're thinking about adding one to your family, make sure you can set aside time three to four days a week for grooming — you really don't want this guy's coat to get matted!
If your family has energy galore, the Lagotto Romagnolo may be a good fit for your home. This is an intelligent working dog who's ready to take on plenty of hobbies — anything from waterfowling to tracking. Just remember that this curly girl needs plenty of exercise and activity to keep her occupied, lest she pick her own hobbies — disruptive ones that you might not like. In Italy, the Lagotto is prized for her impressive ability to search for and find truffles.