Barbet steals the show at American Kennel Club’s ‘Meet the Breeds’

Barbet steals the show at American Kennel Club’s ‘Meet the Breeds’

January 26, 2020

A breed that was almost wiped out by the World Wars was the star of the American Kennel Club’s “Meet the Breeds” event Saturday.

The Barbet was among 150 breeds of dogs and cats available for pets, cuddles and romping with visitors to the Jacob Javits Center. The breed, along with the Dogo Argentino, joined the AKC’s list of recognized breeds at the start of the year, bringing the total number to 195.

The Barbet is a French water dog that dates back to the 16th century, but the breed nearly went extinct during the World Wars, which devastated France. After the wars, there were a handful of breeders who worked to revive the breed. There are only about 500 registered Barbets in the US.

Its rarity is one of the reasons it wasn’t recognized by the AKC until this year.

“They instantly love you,” said Barb Gresham, president of the Barbet Club of America, who joked she refers to the breed the “Velcro dog,” because they want to be with their humans all the time. “They’re always happy. Nothing makes them happier to be with you.”

Smart and playful with a thick coat of naturally curly hair — not fur, which means people who are allergic to dogs may not react as strongly — Barbets are usually about 30 to 45 pounds, and were originally bred to retrieve fallen game in marshes.

There were dozens of other breeds on display, from elegant Papillons to gentle Shi Tzus to tiny Schipperkes, weighing in at just 10-15 pounds.

“They are great companions. They’re full of life,” said Katharine Baptiste, of Montauk, Long Island, who was showing off her 7-year-old Schipperke named Meeko. “They’re very smart. He can open refrigerator doors. You get a big dog personality in a portable package.”

The day wasn’t only about pets. It also featured demonstrations by police dogs from the Transit K-9 unit. Rett, a 19-month-old Shepherd Malinois mix, who is state certified in explosive detection and works patrolling the subways was also on hand.

“He protects 6 to 8 million subway riders every day,” said his handler, NYPD Officer Justin Gelbrand. “He’s super social, and when it comes time to work, he is a workhorse.”

The meet-and-greet runs through Sunday .

AKC-recognized breeds will be on display Feb. 10-11 at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. The event kicks off with the Master Agility Championship on Feb. 9.

Meet the breeds!

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