World Dog Show 2014
Dog shows are the best place to see a variety of breeds here in America. But seeing tens of thousands of purebreds gather from around the world requires a trip to the annual FCI World Dog Show (WDS). This year’s edition held in Helsinki, Finland, hosted by the Finnish Kennel Club (FKC) as part of their year-long 125th Anniversary celebration did not disappoint. Finland is a nation of dog lovers, avid hunters, and reindeer ranchers with 5.4 million citizens. According to the FKC, “Every fifth Finnish family owns a dog. Some 80% of these 600,000+ dogs are pure-bred. Each year, about 50,000 dogs representing more than 300 different breeds are registered in Finland.” Of those 300 breeds, only five are Finnish natives.
Finkies, Lappies & Reindeer Dogs
In honor of the FKC’s 125th, the show organizers waived the entry fee of Finnish Breeds. This brilliant public relations move created large entries of local dogs among the 21,200 dogs in attendance. An amazing 526 Finnish Lapphunds took up five of the 100 show rings one day. This friendly black and tan long-haired medium-sized dog has added to his hunting and herding roots to become a “Lapp dog.” Next up in the Finnish breed parade, an amazing 234 Lapponian Herders were entered. This breed is known for its reindeer herding ability in the northern reaches of Lappland. This breed is a smooth-coated black and tan version of the Lapphund. In fact, if you live in Finland and own property, each year the government will give you 2,000 reindeer to tend to. So you’d better have a Lapponian Herder or two kicking around to help with the herd. There were more than 100 Finnish Spitz – the national dog of Finland – with its brilliant orange dense coat, prick ears, curly tail and foxlike face. Affectionately known as “Finkies” these “barking bird dogs” are known for their ability to flush upland game fowl for the adventurous hunter.
Another national favorite, the most popular registered native breed, the Finnish Hound, made a handsome appearance with his traditional foxhound looks of tan, black and white with long floppy ears to capture the scent of his prey of hare and fox. A Finnish Hound even competed in Best in Show. Wrapping up the natives was the majestic Karelian Bear Dog. This tall, mostly black with white accents hunter of bear, lynx and wolf, clearly demonstrated why he was classified in the Spitz and Primitive breeds group. I must have watched 75 male Karelian Bear Dogs. They are cool breed, similar to my own Norwegian Elkhounds in structure, Scandinavian spitz stature and hunting prowess, their temperament clearly remained on the primitive side. While all dogs at American dog shows are expected to present themselves in a dignified and calm demeanor, these dogs loved to break out into snarling fighting spats in the ring. Now the handlers kept them all on a tight leash, but more than once as I sat ringside watching these magnificent creatures, I pulled my feet away from the ring as they passed, just in case!
Breeders’ Group and Best In Show
My favorite part of the World Dog Show was watching the Breeder’s groups. Each night the arena filled with teams of three to five dogs shown to represent a kennel’s bloodlines. Seeing the most consistent look from animal to animal to animal was a real thrill. Plus, they all dressed in the same costumes! From five Salukis handled by magenta bloused ladies, to four yellow dressed handlers with black Flat-Coated Retrievers in profile against them to smart burgundy suits walking with four Lhasa Apsos. Proud breeders showing off their best dogs. For more photos visit: http://www.pinterest.com/elvemel/world-dog-show-2014-helsinki-finland/
There was much fanfare, a live band, and beautiful emcee, to finally announce that the Affenpinscher “Tricky Ricky” (son of Joey, the Westminster Best in Show winner) won Best in Show. But my top pick for the three-day event was meeting hundreds of native Finnish breeds. “Kittos” Finnish Kennel Club.