From mini to dreadlocked, seven new breeds join Westminster dog show

New breeds of dogs including (from left) a Bergamasco, a Berger Picard, a Boerboel, a Cirneco dell'Etna, and a Lagotto Romagnolo, posing during an event showcasing new breeds of dogs and events which will be part of the upcoming 140th annual Westmins
New breeds of dogs including (from left) a Bergamasco, a Berger Picard, a Boerboel, a Cirneco dell'Etna, and a Lagotto Romagnolo, posing during an event showcasing new breeds of dogs and events which will be part of the upcoming 140th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show. PHOTO: EPA
New breeds (from left) a Bregamasco, a Berger Picard, a Boerboel, a Cirneco dell'Etna, a Lagotto Romagnolo, a Miniature American Shepard and a Spanish Water Dog standing with their handlers.
New breeds (from left) a Bregamasco, a Berger Picard, a Boerboel, a Cirneco dell'Etna, a Lagotto Romagnolo, a Miniature American Shepard and a Spanish Water Dog standing with their handlers. PHOTO: REUTERS
(From left) Jeter, a Cirneco dell'Etna, Niko, a Lagotto Romangnolo and Pico, a Miniature American Sheperd standing on stage with handlers.
(From left) Jeter, a Cirneco dell'Etna, Niko, a Lagotto Romangnolo and Pico, a Miniature American Sheperd standing on stage with handlers.PHOTO: REUTERS
Uragano, a Bergamasco, is walked on stage at a news conference to introduce the seven new breeds of dogs that will be competing in the 2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Jan 21, 2016.
Uragano, a Bergamasco, is walked on stage at a news conference to introduce the seven new breeds of dogs that will be competing in the 2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Jan 21, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
Cynthia Booth holds Rayna, a Miniature American Shepard, following the announcement that the Westminster Dog Show would introduce seven new dog breeds into the annual competition at Madison Square Garden on Jan 21, 2016 in New York City.
Cynthia Booth holds Rayna, a Miniature American Shepard, following the announcement that the Westminster Dog Show would introduce seven new dog breeds into the annual competition at Madison Square Garden on Jan 21, 2016 in New York City.PHOTO: AFP
Chester, a Berger Picard, performing agility drills.
Chester, a Berger Picard, performing agility drills. PHOTO: AFP
Sky, an Australian Shepard, running an obstacle course at a news conference ahead the 2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Sky, an Australian Shepard, running an obstacle course at a news conference ahead the 2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. PHOTO: REUTERS
A handler plays with Chester, a Berger Picard.
A handler plays with Chester, a Berger Picard. PHOTO: AFP
Obilo, a Boerboel, kissinga television camera man covering the event, as they lie on the floor together at the news conference.
Obilo, a Boerboel, kissinga television camera man covering the event, as they lie on the floor together at the news conference. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Some are miniature, others are water-repellent and one is known to battle large predators.

They are the seven dog breeds that will compete for the first time in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, the annual New York event that is expected to draw thousands of visitors next month.

The prestigious show, now in its 140th year, has registered 2,752 dogs representing 199 breeds and varieties from around the world to compete for the title "Best in Show."

This year's newly eligible breeds, introduced by show organisers on Thursday (Jan 21), are the Bergamasco, Lagotto Romagnolo, Berger Picard, Miniature American Shepherd, Boerboel, Spanish Water Dog and Cirneco dell'Etna.

They were added to the American Kennel Club dog registry, making them eligible to compete.

The Bergamasco is a sheep dog that naturally forms dreadlocks, stands about 61 cm tall and originates in the Italian Alps. Also from Italy is the Lagotto Romagnolo, a large retriever with a curly coat that repels water, and the Cirneco dell'Etna, a small, affectionate canine resembling the Whippet.

The Berger Picard, a French herding dog, became nearly extinct after World War II and is still a rare breed.

Miniature American shepherds are linked to Australian shepherds and share their physical characteristics, often having one pale blue eye and one brown eye, but they are smaller.

Hailing from South Africa, the Boerboel is a large mastiff-like working dog. The breed dates back to the 17th century and was "often the first line of defence against predators," according to the American Kennel Club.

Also joining the competition is the Spanish Water Dog, a shaggy and curly-coated breed known for its intelligence, loyalty and strong herding instincts.

The Westminster Kennel Club dog show will be held on Feb 15 and 16 at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.

Last year, dogs from 15 countries and all US states except North Dakota and Idaho competed. A bouncy beagle named Miss P took the top prize.