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AKC Podcast Down and Back

In our eight-part inaugural podcast season of Down and Back: Stories From the American Kennel Club Archives, host Bud Boccone will tell the tales of breeds, dogs, and personalities who’ve shaped America (and Americans) over generations. Using the American Kennel Club’s historical records, archival footage, oral histories, interviews, and more, the show will bring the stories of purebred dogs to life in a new and innovative format for a whole new generation of listeners. The show will always connect the history of the sport of purebred dogs with the modern day to leave listeners with an understanding of how the AKC has impacted the lives of every dog.

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Podcasts are audio-based episodic shows that you can subscribe to and listen to wherever you are and whenever you want—at home, in the car, on your commute. You can find a podcast on just about any topic you can imagine, including dogs! This podcast provides a unique opportunity to delve into the archives and contextualize the phenomenal history of purpose-bred dogs in America as only the AKC can.

  • Episode 1: The Emergence of Dog Obedience in America +

    This podcast episode features the surprisingly modern story of canine obedience and introduces you to the remarkable breeds who inspired it.

    Today’s tale has a human element, as most of the best dog stories do. It follows the lives of Ms. Helen Whitehouse Walker and Ms. Blanche Saunders, who are recognized for legitimizing obedience trials within the AKC, popularizing poodles in the United States, and entrancing an entire nation by showcasing their dog handling skills on the road. Please enjoy this brief, yet bountiful history of humans learning new tricks from dogs and their purpose-bred traits.

    Bonafide Bits

    • Poodle roots can be traced back to Germany where they were bred for retrieving ducks
    • Munito, the famous “Learned Dog” franchise in Europe, was based on a dog’s ability to comprehend cues from its handler
    • Breeds that excel at obedience training include Border Collie, German Shepherd Dog, Golden Retriever, and Doberman Pinscher
    • Obedience is the sport of tapping into abilities for which dogs are already hard-wired
    • In 1936, the American Kennel Club acknowledged Obedience as a sport

    Featured Breeds

    Forget those old stereotypes of Poodles as sissy dogs. Poodles are eager, athletic, and wickedly smart “real dogs” of remarkable versatility. The Standard, with his greater size and strength, is the best all-around athlete of the family, but all Poodles can be trained with great success. Discover more about Poodles at AKC’s Poodle (Standard) Breed Biography.

    Border Collie
    The intelligence, athleticism, and trainability of Borders have a perfect outlet in agility training. Having a job to perform — like agility, herding, or obedience work — is key to Border happiness. Amiable among friends, they may be reserved with strangers. Discover more about Border Collies at AKC’s Border Collie Breed Biography.

    German Shepherd Dog
    There are many reasons why German Shepherd Dogs stand in the front rank of canine royalty, but experts say their defining attribute is character: loyalty, courage, confidence, the ability to learn commands for many tasks, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones. German Shepherd Dogs will be gentle family pets and steadfast guardians, but, the breed standard says, there’s a “certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.” Discover more about German Shepherd Dogs at AKC’s German Shepherd Dog Breed Biography.

    Golden Retriever
    The Golden Retriever, an exuberant Scottish gundog of great beauty, stands among America’s most popular dog breeds. They are serious workers at hunting and fieldwork, as guides for the blind, and in search-and-rescue, enjoy obedience and other competitive events, and have an endearing love of life when not at work. Discover more about Golden Retrievers at AKC’s Golden Retriever Breed Biography.

    Doberman Pinscher
    Sleek and powerful, possessing both a magnificent physique and keen intelligence, the Doberman Pinscher is one of dogkind’s noblemen. This incomparably fearless and vigilant breed stands proudly among the world’s finest protection dogs. Discover more about Doberman Pinschers at AKC’s Doberman Pinscher Breed Biography.

    The massive Newfoundland is a strikingly large, powerful working dog of heavy bone and dignified bearing. The sweet-tempered Newfie is a famously good companion and has earned a reputation as a patient and watchful “nanny dog” for kids. Discover more about Newfoundlands at AKC’s Newfoundland Breed Biography.

    The famously long, low silhouette, ever-alert expression, and bold, vivacious personality of the Dachshund have made him a superstar of the canine kingdom. Dachshunds come in two sizes and three coat types of various colors and patterns. Discover more about Dachshunds at AKC’s Dachshund Breed Biography.

    Shareables From This Episode

    “Obedience begins and ends with training humans.”

    “Through the last half-century, there has been a renaissance in thinking about breed attributes.”

    “Ms. Helen Whitehouse Walker never set out to champion the Poodle but eventually became a Poodle evangelist.”

  • Episode 2: Uniquely Urban: Dogs Bred for Life in the City +

    This podcast episode highlights centuries of purpose breeding that allows certain dogs to be perfectly adapted for city bars, parks, and cramped studio apartments.

    History is still unclear as to whether a human chose to relocate an Bulldog in France or if the Bulldog got a whiff of the Moulin Rouge in Paris and fled the English countryside for a taste of the avant-garde. Nonetheless, some dogs have been purposefully bred as companions for humans who desire to live amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s up to their human companions to give dogs a comfortable lifestyle but with proper care, any dog can be a city dog.

    Bonafide Bits

    • Bulldogs were bred with jaws strong enough to pin a bull to the ground
    • In 1897, Toulouse-Lautrec included the portrait of a French Bulldog when he captured a saucy Paris night scene
    • Several Dali Lamas bred Lhasa Apsos in Buddhist monasteries
    • In 1893, the AKC officially recognized the distinctly American Boston Terrier
    • In 2018, a Great Dane was featured in New Yorker Magazine

    Featured Breeds

    Kind but courageous, friendly but dignified, the Bulldog is a thick-set, low-slung, well-muscled bruiser whose “sourmug” face is the universal symbol of courage and tenacity. These docile, loyal companions adapt well to town or country. Discover more about Bulldogs at AKC’s Bulldog Breed Biography.

    French Bulldog
    The one-of-a-kind French Bulldog, with his large bat ears and even disposition, is one of the world’s most popular small-dog breeds, especially among city dwellers. The Frenchie is playful, alert, adaptable, and completely irresistible. Discover more about French Bulldogs at AKC’s French Bulldog Breed Biography.

    Brussels Griffon
    Tipping the scales at no more than 12 pounds, this human-like toy of complex character has enough personality for 10 ordinary dogs. A sensitive companion for discerning grownups, the Brussels Griffon is smart, devoted, and comically self-important. Discover more about Brussels Griffons at AKC’s Brussels Griffon Breed Biography.

    Lhasa Apso
    The lavishly coated Lhasa Apso is a thousand-year-old breed who served as sentinels at palaces and monasteries isolated high in the Himalayas. Smart, confident, and complex, Lhasas are family comedians but regally aloof with strangers. Discover more about Lhasa Apsos at AKC’s Lhasa Apso Breed Biography.

    Havanese, the only dog breed native to Cuba, are cheerful little dogs with a spring in their step and a gleam in their big, brown eyes. These vivacious and sociable companions are becoming especially popular with American city dwellers. Discover more about Havanese at AKC’s Havanese Breed Biography.

    A small companion breed originating in Italy, the Bolognese is a calm, faithful dog with a long, fluffy pure-white coat. They are very playful, easy-going, and love people. Discover more about Bolognese at AKC’s Bolognese Breed Biography.

    Coton de Tulear
    The Coton de Tulear, “Royal Dog of Madagascar,” is a bright, happy-go-lucky companion dog whose favorite activities include clowning, cavorting, and following their special human around the house. The Coton is small but robustly sturdy. Discover more about Coton de Tulears at AKC’s Coton de Tulear Breed Biography.

    Bedlington Terrier
    Graceful terriers in sheep’s clothing, Bedlington Terriers, named for the English mining shire where they were first bred, are genial housemates, alert watchdogs, versatile athletes, and irresistibly cuddly TV-time companions. Discover more about Bedlington Terriers at AKC’s Bedlington Terrier Breed Biography.

    Boston Terrier
    The Boston Terrier is a lively little companion recognized by his tight tuxedo jacket, sporty but compact body, and the friendly glow in his big, round eyes. His impeccable manners have earned him the nickname “The American Gentleman.” Discover more about Boston Terriers at AKC’s Boston Terrier Breed Biography.

    The champion sprinter of dogdom, the Greyhound is a gentle, noble, and sweet-tempered companion with an independent spirit. For thousands of years, these graceful hounds have been an object of fascination for artists, poets, and kings. Discover more about Greyhounds at AKC’s Greyhound Breed Biography.

    Great Dane
    The easygoing Great Dane, the mighty “Apollo of Dogs,” is a total joy to live with—but owning a dog of such imposing size, weight, and strength is a commitment not to be entered into lightly. This breed is indeed great, but not a Dane. Discover more about Great Danes at AKC’s Great Dane Breed Biography.

    The Leonberger is a lush-coated giant of German origin. They have a gentle nature and serene patience and they relish the companionship of the whole family. Discover more about Leonbergers at AKC’s Leonberger Breed Biography.

    For more information about a specific breed visit the breed’s parent club or

    Shareables From This Episode

    “Many companion breeds proudly bear the name of the city where they were bred. How many can you name?”

    “City dog breeds share a few key traits including size, intelligence, sociability, and quite often stylish hairdos.”

    “With proper care, any dog can be a city dog.”

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