Move over, Labrador retrievers. Make way for the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, the Norwegian Lundehund and the Xoloitzcuintli.
The American Kennel Club announced Tuesday it has introduced three new breeds to its registry, a move that's likely to increase their popularity.
"The titles help to identify your dog," spokeswoman Lisa Peterson says, noting the designation allows these new breeds to earn championships at the club's competitions.
"You know, could just say, 'Hey, this is a great dog,' but if you've earned your championship … it goes to show the quality of the dog."
Getting a breed officially recognized isn't easy. Since starting in 1884 with nine recognized breeds, the American Kennel Club's list has gradually grown to 170.
Breeders, owners and experts must first create their own club to promote a specific canine before they can apply for recognition with the American Kennel Club, Ms. Peterson says.
They must then meet a number of criteria. For example, they must demonstrate the breed's popularity by determining that at least 100 households across the country own the breed and then document that there are several hundred dogs of its kind in the United States with three-generation pedigrees.
The breed must then be entered in the miscellaneous class of the American Kennel Club's dog shows, where, after showing for one to three years, the club's board of directors can grant it full-recognition status.
The Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Norwegian Lundehund and the Xoloitzcuintli are already recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club, which has 175 officially registered breeds. This month, it added the Lancashire Heeler to its list of new breeds eligible to compete in its shows.
Ms. Peterson says the recognition does not necessarily mean pet owners will be paying more for these breeds. However, it does offer some quality assurance.
"The great thing about purebreds is their predictability, so you know what you're going to get," she says.
Entlebucher Mountain Dog:
This small mountain dog, originating from Entlebuch, Switzerland, was bred to herd cattle on mountain pastures. The first record of the name "Entlebucherhund" dates back to 1889.
According to the U.S. National Entlebucher Mountain Dog Association, the breed is intelligent and highly active. It's prized for its agreeable nature and ease of training.
Entlebuchers grow up to about 53 centimetres in height, and are tri-coloured. Their coats are mostly black, with white and yellow to rusty-brown markings.
This unusual breed is known for having six toes on each foot and extra vertebrae in its neck that allow it to bend backward and touch its spine with its forehead. (Typically, dogs have four toes on each foot, Ms. Peterson says.)
These distinct features allowed the breed to hunt for puffins on rocky coastal cliffs.
Norwegian Lundehunds grow to about 38 centimetres in height and are reddish brown with white markings. They are considered loyal, energetic and playful companions, but can be wary of strangers.
This ancient Mexican breed is considered one of the rarest breeds in the world. It comes in three sizes - toy (less than 35 centimetres high), miniature (up to about 46 centimetres high) and standard (up to 58 centimetres high) - and two varieties, hairless and coated.
The hairless variety may have a tuft of short, coarse hair on the head and nape, as well as on the feet and tail. The coated variety has short, dense hair that may be black, grey, red, liver, bronze or golden yellow.
According to the Canadian Kennel Club, the name comes from the Aztec god Xolotl and the Aztec word for dog, "itcuintli." The Xolo is highly regarded for its elegant and graceful outline, and its calm demeanour.