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World Dog Show 2015: Dates, Location, Top Breeds and More

Briggs Seekins@BriggsfighttalkFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2015

February 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Karen Profenna with her dog Hailey during the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster at Pier 94. Mandatory Credit: Aristide Economopoulos/THE STAR LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
Aristide Economopoulos/THE STAR LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

The relationship between dogs and human beings stretches back to long before the dawn of recorded history. From their ancient wolf ancestors, human beings have bred our closest animal friends to perform a wide array of tasks, leading to a staggering diversity of appearance and body type. 

The dog's history and present role in society will be celebrated this week in Milan, Italy, as the World Dog Show is held from June 10 through the 14. Held under the auspices of the Federation Cynologique Internationale (English translation: World Canine Organization), it is a true international event, drawing dogs, trainers and canine lovers from around the globe.   

A tweet earlier this week from the World Dog Show's official Twitter page trumpeted the massive influx of dogs headed to Milan:

World Dog Show 2015 @WdsMilano2015

World Dog Show 2015. Almost 30.000 registered dogs. Record success. #WDS2015IT http://t.co/PI5svzQM06

The FCI has national organizations in over 70 countries and recognizes over 330 different breeds, broken down into 10 different categories. The categories are as follows:

Sheepdogs and Cattledogs

The breeds in this category range from the familiar household pets, such as the German shepherd, Border collie and English sheepdog, to more exotic breeds, such as the puli of Hungary, whose appearance can best be described as a dog with dreadlocks. 

Sheep and cattle dogs are famous for their loyalty but also noted for being aloof, at least until they grow comfortable with a person. These are dogs who were bred to protect herds from predators, so it is their instinct to view any stranger as a potential threat. 

Terriers

Although they vary widely in size, terrier breeds tend to be smaller. They are also full of personality and often pugnacious, which should not be a surprise, given the fact that they were bred to hunt such pests as rats, rabbits and badgers. 

Their game personalities led to their widespread exploitation in less enlightened sporting eras, when contests were sometimes held to see which terrier could clear out a rat pit the quickest. Many fighting breeds had terrier bloodlines. 

Dachshund Group

This is one of the smallest categories in terms of the number of breeds it contains. It includes standard, miniature and rabbit terriers, along with short-hair, long-hair and wire-hair variations. 

Spitz and Primitive Types

The spitz and primitive breed category includes the dogs bred to pull sleds in the arctic regions. For my money, the husky and malamutes in this category are the most beautiful dogs. The tiny spitz is sometimes referred to as an "Eskimo dog" in parts of the United States. 

Scent Hounds

Jerome Delay/Associated Press

Scent hounds are dogs bred to follow scents to aid hunters. Commons examples include the American and English versions of the foxhounds. Perhaps the most emblematic breed in this category is the bloodhound, a rugged and persistent tracker often used to run down escaped inmates in earlier eras. 

Pointers and Setters

Many breeds from this category are popular family pets in the United States. They are a subset of gundogs, most often used to help hunters locate birds. The pointers get their name from their clever ability to point toward the location of the quarry in the field. 

Retriever, Flushing Dog and Water Dog

Michael DeYoung/Associated Press

This is another category of dogs originally bred to assist hunters who have developed into beloved family pets. This category includes the extremely popular labrador and golden retrievers along with less familiar breeds such as the Portuguese water dog. 

Intelligent and anxious to please, these breeds are also highly energetic. They are born athletes and require significant exercise, but I view them as the "doggiest" dogs of all. 

Companion and Toy Dogs

Often referred to popularly as lap dogs, these are the yappy little breeds that have become popular pocketbook accessories for heiresses such as Paris Hilton. These dogs are big on personality but insecure, which is probably a natural outcome of breeding a wolf down to the size of a teacup. 

These breeds include chihuahuas, bishons, and Lhasa apsos. I like these little guys. But I'm a dog guy and like all breeds.

Sighthounds 

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

In contrast to scent hounds, who hunt by scent and relentless endurance, sighthounds hunt by sight and speed. They include greyhounds and whippets, along with the mammoth Irish wolfhounds. 

Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossoid and Swiss Mountain Dog

The breeds in this category, such as the Doberman and bull mastiff, were bred primarily for guard duty, although the Swiss mountain dog's massive size has always made it a natural draft animal in a pinch. 

February 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Sparkle the dog runs obstacles during the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster at Pier 94. Mandatory Credit: Aristide Economopoulos/THE STAR LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
Aristide Economopoulos/THE STAR LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

With the entire spectrum of the canine world so thoroughly represented in Milan this week, it will make for a dog lover's paradise. In addition to the dog show, which, according to the event's official website, will crown "the world's most beautiful dog," the Italian National Conference of Veterinarians will hold a conference to promote best practices for canine health. 

For the more action-oriented fan, there will be competitions to crown world champions on the agility course, on the dance floor and in ball and disc catching. The show will also hold exhibitions to display the outstanding talents of rescue and guide dogs.  

Dogs have lived on intimate terms with us for tens of thousands of years now. Long ago we integrated them into the fabric of our daily lives. This week in Milan, they will have their moment in spotlight. 

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