- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Was it a victory of the big woofers over the little yappers?

A splendid hunting dog with a lithe gait and a keen eye won the fabled Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday night, licking 2,581 other canines who would be king — or queen, as the case may be.

Kan-Point’s VJK Autumn Roses, or Carlee for short, is a lady dog ” a German shorthair pointer, to be exact ” a breed that can weigh 70 pounds and is considered an “all-purpose gun dog,” according to the breed standards.

Carlee is neither prancer nor dancer. As Best in Show, she was victorious over a pert Norfolk terrier and wee Pekingese, marking the second year in a row that a big dog became the top dog.

A monumental Newfoundland named Ch Darbydale’s All Rise Pouchcove, also known as Josh, triumphed last year.

But the nation is not necessarily at the dawn of the big-dog era.

“Actually, Americans are moving towards smaller dogs, which makes sense in a time when people are often downsizing their lives,” Westminster spokesman David Frei said yesterday. “And at Westminster, the best dog will win no matter what size it is.”

Official statistics show, though, Americans prefer their dogs immense and enthusiastic: For the 15th year in a row, Labradors were named the nation’s most popular purebred dog, followed by golden retrievers and German shepherds, according to American Kennel Club (AKC) counts released last month.

Neither Labs nor goldens have won Best in Show at Westminster; a shepherd, however, managed to put the bite on the title in 1987.

The beagle places fourth in popularity on the AKC list, followed by Yorkshire terriers, dachshunds, boxers, poodles, Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas.

“Considering the trends over the years, the popularity of small dogs has steadily risen. Breeds with the most significant rises in registrations in the last decade are mostly small dogs,” AKC spokeswoman Lainie Cantrell said.

Indeed, the popularity of the petite French bulldog has risen 252 percent since 1994. The figure was 234 percent for the Brussels griffon and 134 percent for the Chinese crested ” both compact canines.

Alternatively, stock fell for Dalmatians, whose popularity was down by 98 percent, chow chows (down 93 percent), Rottweilers (down 83 percent) and Akitas (down 72 percent).

Westminster winner Carlee, in the meantime, will retire to Colorado. For the rest of her kind, though, fame can prove a cautionary tale.

“We’re delighted one of ours won Westminster,” said Robert Lowe of the Maryland-based Mason-Dixon German Shorthair Pointer Club.

“But sometimes breeders cringe when the public only see the dogs under ideal circumstances ” on TV or posing on the cover of the L.L. Bean catalog. German shorthairs are wonderful dogs ” but not for everyone. That cute puppy can become a 60-pound dog which needs responsible ownership,” Mr. Lowe said.

He also operates a rescue group for the breed, taking in dogs that have been abandoned by discouraged owners.

“It’s what we call the ‘Disney Dalmatian’ syndrome. Everyone saw cute little Dalmatians in a cartoon and didn’t realize that they are actually a big, strong working dog,” Mr. Lowe said.

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