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Give a round of app-paws for the 3 new breeds in the National Dog Show

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Thanksgiving is a couch lover's dream. There's the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, football face-offs, heartwarming holiday ads and, of course, the National Dog Show.

This year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) approved three additional breeds to compete in the National Dog Show: the Bracco Italiano, the Russian toy and the mudi.

David Frei, a host and analyst for the National Dog Show for over 20 years, explains why these three breeds were selected to enter the competition this year: "They're finally recognized by the AKC for competition in the conformation dog shows because they have enough of them in this country. They have a geographic distribution, and they have a parent club that watches over them."

The Kennel Club of Philadelphia held the first National Dog Show in 1879 and has annually hosted the event since 1933. The show began airing on national television in 2002, shortly after the release of the Christopher Guest movie Best in Show. Now, roughly 20 million people across the U.S. tune in annually.

Stephanie Farr, a writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer, says that for Philadelphia locals, the event is a hidden gem.

"I've been in the Philly area for about 15 years now, and I didn't realize that I could go in person to the National Dog Show," Farr says. "And you can walk around the floor of the National Dog Show. It's one of only three bench dog shows in the country. And this year, it's the only one."

In a benched show, dogs are required to be present on the floor even when they're not actively competing. This allows the audience to interact with them. Upon admittance, patrons are given a floor map so they can navigate the designated areas for each breed of dog.

Audiences are encouraged to engage with the dogs and their owners. Frei says it's the perfect time to get familiar with a new breed and ask questions about care.

"Because the purpose of a dog show really is for the education of the public," Frei says. "And maybe people can find out about a dog that fits their lifestyle and is right for their family."

The National Dog Show takes place every year the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year's show was filmed this past weekend and will air on Thanksgiving Day at 12 p.m. locally in all time zones.

The audio for this story was produced by Paige Waterhouse and Lisa Weiner. Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Transcript:

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

For many Americans, Thanksgiving Day is often marked by what's on TV. There's the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning, football in the afternoon, and don't forget the National Dog Show sandwiched in between. This is an exciting year for dog show lovers. Three new dog breeds have been approved by the American Kennel Club to compete in the show for the first time. David Frei co-hosts the show.

DAVID FREI: We have the Bracco Italiano - great athletic dogs. It's a beautiful dog. It looks very stately. It looks like a dog you should see in a painting of the Elizabethan era.

MARTÍNEZ: Then there's a dog named the Russian toy.

FREI: They're wonderful little dogs. They weigh about four or five pounds. They're great athletic dogs. They can run like you can't believe - like little rockets.

MARTÍNEZ: So cute. And the third new breed is called a mudi.

FREI: It's a Hungarian herding dog, a Hungarian farm dog, that mainly watches after livestock. They're great little dogs, too. We don't see very many of them. There's a lot of them in Hungary, of course.

MARTÍNEZ: So how did the American Kennel Club suddenly notice these three new breeds and then let them compete?

FREI: They're not really new breeds. They've been - some of them have been around for hundreds or even thousands of years. They're finally recognized by the AKC because they have enough of them in this country.

MARTÍNEZ: There are 194 breeds competing for this year's big prize. If it's tough to decide who to root for, Frei has some very simple advice - stay loyal.

FREI: If you're sitting on the couch with your Cavalier, you're going to watch for the Cavalier and root for the Cavalier. I call it the alma mater factor. That's my dog in there, and, true, you and I should be rooting for them.

MARTÍNEZ: The National Dog Show airs today at noon in all time zones.

(SOUNDBITE OF BILL FRISELL, ET AL.'S "BAJA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.