The American Kennel Club and The International Cat Association Celebrate State Dogs and Cats
From Alaska all the way to Wisconsin, many states show off their love of dogs and cats by giving them official status. To celebrate the Fourth of July and the New York City return of AKC Meet the Breeds® – the world’s largest gathering of cats and dogs – the American Kennel Club (AKC®) and The International Cat Association (TICA) take a look at some of these official dogs and cats, and what makes them so special.
Maryland: Maryland was the first state to honor a dog with an official title. In 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever became the state dog of Maryland. The breed is popular with hunters for its ability to retrieve birds in water such as geese and ducks. They are happy, intelligent, and courageous dogs that love water. They do best with active, outdoor-loving families.
Alaska: The newest dog to receive an official title is the Alaskan Malamute. Named the state dog of Alaska in 2010 after young students petitioned for it, the Alaskan Malamute is an American breed named after the Inuit tribe called the Mahlemuts that settled in Alaska. Historically, they were very valuable work dogs because they could carry heavy loads over long distances in the Arctic’s harsh environment. Today, Alaskan Malamutes are affectionate and friendly family pets.
Massachusetts: Truly an American dog, the Boston Terrier was the first purebred dog in the U.S. and was designated the state dog of Massachusetts in 1979. Boston Terriers are lively and extremely intelligent. They have a gentle disposition and make wonderful pets. They require a moderate amount of exercise, are simple to groom, and easy to train.
South Carolina: The Boykin Spaniel was named the state dog of South Carolina, the state where it originated, in 1985. Boykin Spaniels have a very cheerful and energetic personality. They are medium-sized, all-around hunting dogs. Because they were bred to work with hunters all day, they fit in best with an active family. The breed loves companionship and enjoys the company of kids and other dogs.
Virginia: The American Foxhound was designated the state dog of Virginia in 1966. One of the rarest of America’s native breeds, the American Foxhound was originally bred for fox hunting. They are easygoing dogs that get along well with children. They were bred to run, so American Foxhounds need exercise to keep them happy. Because they can be stubborn, persistence is needed when training.
Wisconsin: The citizens of Wisconsin named the American Water Spaniel their state dog in 1985. They are the only breed native to the state. They were originally bred as an all-around hunter that could retrieve from boats. While they still enjoy hunting today, they are also excellent family dogs. Since they are very energetic, they do require daily exercise, but they also love hanging out with their family. American Water Spaniels are friendly and eager to please and respond well to training.
Maine: The Maine Coon was named the state cat of Maine in 1985. America's native longhair, Maine Coons were well established over a century ago as a hardy breed of domestic cat, well equipped to survive the hostile New England winters. Maine Coon owners enjoy the breed's characteristic clown-like personality, affectionate nature, and willingness to “help” with any activity. They make excellent companions for large, active families that also enjoy living with dogs and other animals.
Maryland: Maryland named the Calico Cat their state cat in 2001. Its separate blocks of colors – orange, black, and white – are shared with the Baltimore oriole (State bird) and the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly (State insect). Calico is not a breed of cat, but an unusual coloring occurring across many breeds, including Domestic Short-hair, Maine Coon, Munchkin, British Shorthair, American Wirehair, Persian, and Manx. Virtually all calico cats are female.
Massachusetts: In 1988, the state of Massachusetts made the Tabby Cat official in response to the wishes of the state’s schoolchildren. Tabby cats are often mistakenly thought of as being a particular breed of cat, but it is the coat pattern which resembles the striping on a “tiger” cat that is known as “Tabby”. The tabby coat pattern is a gene carried by all breeds of domestic cats so it can occur in all short- and long-haired breeds even if it’s “masked” and cannot be seen.
In addition to the official state dogs/cats, last year the AKC polled Americans and uncovered the inner dogs and cats of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut based on the unique character and personality of each state. Here are AKC’s unofficial state dogs and cats:
New York City: The Dachshund, commonly known as a “hot dog,” won as the dog breed representing Brooklyn’s 95-year-old institution, Nathan’s Hot Dogs. The American Curl represented the Upper East Side’s affluent, high-society stereotype, as New York City’s cat breed.
New Jersey: The Yorkshire Terrier’s big personality in a small package represents New Jersey being the fourth smallest state in the nation with the most dense population. The American Shorthair represents the state’s misunderstood identity.
Connecticut: Golden Retrievers can adapt to many different living situations and are beautiful to look at, and they represent the fictional suburb of Stepford, Connecticut and its “Stepford Wives”. The oldest known cat breed, the Persian, represents Connecticut’s stereotype of the state known for having a large population of affluent families who have been wealthy for generations.
From the Afghan Hound to the Turkish Van, AKC Meet the Breeds is the world’s largest showcase of dogs and cats and offers pet lovers a unique opportunity to play with some of the country’s rarest dog and cat breeds while educating themselves about responsible pet ownership and choosing the right pet for their lifestyle. Presented by PetPartners, Inc., this family-friendly event will showcase 160 AKC registered dog breeds and 50 TICA registered cat breeds – in booths individually decorated to depict each breed’s country of origin, historical purpose/function, and attributes as a family pet – include fun animal demonstrations and more than 100 vendors selling unique dog and cat items. Go to www.MeetTheBreeds.com for more information.
Visit www.akc.org for more information on the state dog breeds and www.tica.org for the state cats, or meet them in person at Meet the Breeds November 19th and 20th at the Javits Center in New York City.
Tickets allow admittance for one day and can be purchased online at www.meetthebreeds.com.