The American Kennel Club has announced that effective May 1, 2004, the Black Russian Terrier and the Neapolitan Mastiff have been granted regular status as AKC-recognized breeds and are eligible for competition in the Working Group, effective July 1, 2004. In addition, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is approved for AKC registration as of July 1, 2004 and for competition in the Terrier Group as of October 1, 2004.
The Black Russian Terrier first bred true in 1956 and its history is a compelling one. During the 1930's a military kennel named the Red Star started work on a native breed that would be part of the national security force. The kennel worked on selective interbreeding using Rottweiler, Giant Schnauzer, Airedale and Newfoundland mixes. It was important to have a large breed not only reliable but trainable in many different situations. The dog would also have to be able to endure the harsh Russian winters. The result was the Black Russian Terrier, a robust, large and powerful dog. The dog has large bones and well-developed muscles and is expected to be balanced, have a good temperament and be reliable as a guard dog. The breed has great courage, strength, and endurance.
“The Black Russian Terrier can sometimes be a clown to those that know him, but this large, protective breed must be well trained and socialized,” stated Marjorie Tuff, AKC liaison for the Black Russian Terrier Club of America. “This breed needs plenty of space and exercise, and is very social.”
The Neapolitan Mastiff is an ancient breed, rediscovered in Italy in the 1940's. The Neapolitan Mastiff is a heavy-boned, massive, awe-inspiring dog bred for use as a guard and defender of owner and property. He is characterized by loose skin, over his entire body, abundant, hanging wrinkles and folds on the head and a voluminous dewlap. The essence of the Neapolitan is his imposing appearance, astounding head size and attitude. The breed has gained attention due to a brief appearance in the popular movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Over the centuries, breeders of the “Mastino” in the Neapolitan area of southern Italy focused on breeding guards for their homes and estates. They created a breed that retained the giant size, heavy, loose skin and dewlap. This was an animal that was a stay-at-home type, and was good with the family but was bred to detect unwanted intruders and to deter them from the property under their care.
“The Neapolitan Mastiff is a breed like no other, with a fantastic head, and unusual movement,” said Peggy Wolfe, president of the United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club. “When you look at the Mastino, you can see the 4000 years of history in its eyes. We are very proud that this primeval canine is finally joining the ranks of the AKC breeds.”
The Glen of Imaal Terrier — “There is a glen, Imaal, in the Wicklow Mountains that has always been, and still is, celebrated for its terriers.” This 19th-century reference is to the beguiling Irish breed we now know as the Glen of Imaal Terrier. Initially bred to rid the home and farm of vermin, and hunt badger and fox, these rugged dogs also had a unique task for which they were expressly designed to perform; they were turnspit dogs. The turnspit was a large wheel which, when paddled by the dog, would turn a spit over the hearth — a canine propelled rotisserie. Game and spirited with great courage when called upon, the Glen is otherwise gentle and docile. Although generally less easily excited than other terriers, the Glen is always ready to give chase.
“As a breeder, one of the most appealing attributes of the Glen is the antiquity of the breed itself,” said Richard S. McKinney, former AKC liaison for Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America. “Today's Glens are very much the same as the Glens that worked the lowlands of County Wicklow 100 years ago, with very little refinement or influence by fashion. Function was the key then and it is what we strive for as the club guiding the breed into the future.”