Westminster dog show welcomes two new breeds to competition

Welcome to the club, pups!

Officials for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show are welcoming two pawesome new dog breeds into the elite competition this year.

Hounds representing the grand basset griffon Vendeen and the Nederlandse kooikerhondje breeds are slated to make their debut at the annual dog show next month.

Escher, left, and Rhett, center, Nederlandse kooikerhondje, and Juno, right, a grand basset griffon Vendeen, are shown at the American Kennel Club headquarters in New York on Jan. 10, 2018. The two breeds are eligible to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for the first time in 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Escher, left, and Rhett, center, Nederlandse kooikerhondje, and Juno, right, a grand basset griffon Vendeen, are shown at the American Kennel Club headquarters in New York on Jan. 10, 2018. The two breeds are eligible to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for the first time in 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New breeds appear at Westminster after getting recognized by the American Kennel Club. The process takes years and includes setting standards and having hundreds of dogs spread around the country.

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Juno, a grand basset griffon Vendeen, is shown during a news conference at the American Kennel Club headquarters in New York. The grand basset griffon Vendeen, developed in France to hunt rabbit and hare, is one of two breeds eligible to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for the first time in 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Juno, a grand basset griffon Vendeen, is shown during a news conference at the American Kennel Club headquarters in New York. The grand basset griffon Vendeen, developed in France to hunt rabbit and hare, is one of two breeds eligible to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for the first time in 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Brielly Cipriotti, the owner of grand basset griffon Vendeen Buzz Lightyear competing in the show, says that the breed is certainly worthy of the opportunity.

"They're extremely sweet, and they have a big, goofy attitude," Cipriotti told the Associated Press. She's excited about the exposure that the breed — a low-slung, long-eared, hardy hound developed in France to hunt rabbits and hare — stands to gain from Westminster.

Nederlandse kooikerhondje Escher, left, and Rhett are shown during a news conference at the American Kennel Club headquarters in New York. The Nederlandse kooikerhondje, originally a Dutch duck-hunting dog, is one of two breeds eligible to compete in the Westminster dog show for the first time in 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Nederlandse kooikerhondje Escher, left, and Rhett are shown during a news conference at the American Kennel Club headquarters in New York. The Nederlandse kooikerhondje, originally a Dutch duck-hunting dog, is one of two breeds eligible to compete in the Westminster dog show for the first time in 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Rod Beckstead, the owner of a 2-year-old Nederlandse kooikerhondje named Bandit, had similarly good things to say. Describing the breed as “the Pied Piper of the dog world,” the merry, clever Nederlandse kooikerhondje was initially trained to help Dutch duck hunters. Today, the versatile breed is easy to teach sports and tricks; some even some even serve as cadaver dogs, Beckstead said.

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From Feb. 9 to Feb. 12, 3,200 dogs of over 200 breeds will gather at Madison Square Garden in New York City for the big event. After ruffing it out in various rounds, the true top dog will go home with the coveted Best in Show trophy.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.