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Down and Back: Stores From the American Kennel Club Archives Podcast

In our award-winning Down and Back: Stories From the American Kennel Club Archives dog podcast, host Bud Boccone tells 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 dog stories to life in a format for a whole new generation of dog-loving listeners.

The show always connects the history of the sport of purebred dogs with the modern day to leave listeners with an understanding of how the AKC—founded in 1884—has impacted the lives of every single dog in America. This podcast provides a unique opportunity to delve into the AKC Library & Archives and contextualize the phenomenal history of purpose-bred dogs in America as only the AKC can. In the show notes below, you can learn more about each dog breed featured in the series, plus catch up on any episodes you missed.

  • S3E8: Poodles: A Marvel of Intelligence and Versatility +

    In this episode, we introduce you to the wicked smart, Swiss Army Knife of breeds, the beloved Poodle.

    Over the centuries, Poodles were bred as hunting companions but their versatility and intelligence led them to starring roles such as fashion plates, status symbols, comedians, rescue heroes, and crimefighters. Though often underestimated, underrated, and misunderstood, Poodles make excellent guide dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs. Join us as we plunge into the history of these excellent swimmers and treasured family members.

    Bonafide Bits

    • In the 19th century, the French fell in love with the Poodle making it a cultural icon and the national dog of France.
    • French legend has it that a black Poodle named “Moustache” earned a grenadier’s per diem and received a hero’s burial after faithfully serving his country.
    • In 1875, the Poodle first appeared in the Kennel Club’s stud book.
    • In 1935, Duke, a white Standard Poodle, was the first Poodle to win Best in Show at Westminster.
    • Elvis Presley gave Poodles as gifts to girlfriends.

    Shareables From This Episode

    • The traditional Poodle cut is more function than fashion.
    • Poodles have been featured in artworks dating back to the 14th century.
    • Poodle coats can also be corded and encouraged to grow into locks up to 20 inches long.

  • S3E7: Sighthounds: Sleek, Swift, and Eternal +

    In this episode, we explore the indispensable Sighthounds. The sleek, swift, and beloved desert hunters and guardians of antiquity.

    The story of Sighthounds is the story of the oldest known domesticated dogs. Many of the breeds cherished today pre-date recorded history. Their loyalty, speed, and ability to spot and catch prey over long distances in the cruelest of conditions made them essential assets to pharaohs, kings, and nomads alike. Sighthounds were so revered that statues, murals, and golden relics were created in their honor. As a final testament to their merit, Sighthounds have been discovered, mummified, and laid to rest in family tombs.

    Bonafide Bits

    • The Azawakh’s unique lean, durable physique inspired a Formula 1 engineer.
    • An ancient leather dog collar was discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb.
    • Pharaoh Hounds are known to blush, and even smile.
    • In addition to being the world’s fastest dog, Greyhounds have a 270-degree range of vision.
    • Canine champions of AKC’s Fast CAT Invitationals have reached speeds of 35-45 mph.

    Shareables From This Episode

    • The fleet-footed whippet has been dubbed a “poor man’s racehorse.”
    • There’s evidence that the Greeks not only developed collars but created spiked collars, to protect the necks of their hounds from a predator’s bite
    • Tesem is an ancient Egyptian catch-all term meaning hunting dog.

  • S3E6: Pet Loss and Grief: Paying Homage to Our Beloved Dogs +

    CW: grief, loss, death of a pet

    In this episode, we explore the weighty subject of humans finding ways to say goodbye to a beloved dog, and the spectrum of ways people deal with the grief of losing a beloved pet.

    For ages, proof of the unique bond between humans and dogs has existed in literature, song, and lore. But rarely discussed are the lengths humans will go to pay homage to their dogs after they have passed. Everyone mourns pet loss differently. From the creation of pet cemeteries to bestowing monetary gifts to cover future care, the love we feel for dogs extends beyond this earthly realm.

    Bonafide Bits

    • In a 50 square meter plot in Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, some 1,300 dogs were individually buried between the 5th and 3rd centuries.
    • The constellation Canis Major was named after Maira, the faithful hound of Ikarios, a winemaker of ancient Greece.
    • Ronald Reagan famously dramatized George Graham Vest’s Old Drum closing court argument.
    • Famous women who left money to their dogs include Lauren Bacall, Joan Rivers, and Leona Helmsley.

    Shareables From This Episode

    • Likely the closing argument by George Vest in the legal battle of Burden v. Hornsby solidified the view that dogs are members of the family.
    • Strictly speaking, a dog cannot inherit money although a trust can be established to care for it.

  • S3E5: Canine Mythbusting: Fact, Fiction, or Folklore? +

    In this episode, we dig deep into the depths of dog lore to separate fact from fiction.

    If humans understood all the wags of a dog’s tail there might not be so many misconceptions about what they prefer to eat, whether or not they want that giant hug, or if they really play poker. But, the better we get to know our favorite dogs, the more myths we’re able to bust. More importantly, the better humans understand their dog’s needs, signals, and communication, the stronger the bond between us becomes.

    Bonafide Bits

    • Great Danes are actually German, not Danish.
    • In 2023, Bobi, a Rafeiro do Alentejo in Portugal, was verified to be the world’s oldest dog at 30 years old.
    • You really can teach old dogs new tricks, as expertly demonstrated by 95 Border Collies at the Clever Dog Lab in Austria.
    • Dogs can see color, but are more likely to see blue and yellow toys than popular red or orange toys.
    • Plants in the Allium family, particulary onions, are toxic to all dog breeds but more toxic to Japanese breeds such as Akitas and Shiba Inus.

    Shareables From This Episode

    • Dogs are not color blind, they just see colors differently from humans. Blue and yellow toys stand out more than other colors.
    • Used as scent atomizers, the sweat glands on a dog’s skin are not used for evaporation or cooling.
    • A dog’s wagging tail is an effective communication tool, as long as you don’t come in at the tail end of the conversation.

  • S3E4: Naming the Beast: From Dog Breed Name Origins to Popular Everyday Pet Names +

    In this episode, we scour through the archives for irresistible stories behind breed names.

    Breed names are a vital tool for classifying our canine companions, yet it’s the individuals, the Lunas and Maxs, the Rovers, Spots, and Fidos who breathe meaning into who these breeds become in our lives. Many breeds acquired their names from the prey they hunted, the location in which they were discovered, or by inheriting the names of the people who developed or fancied them. The names we give dogs highlight times, places, and people in every chapter of the human story. Dogs accompanied our earliest ancestors and will undoubtedly be there to guide our descendants.

    Bonafide Bits

    • Huskies were not named for their strong, hefty physiques or sled-pulling abilities.
    • Elvis, a beagle, sniffs polar bear poop at zoos to detect pregnancies.
    • There is no such breed as a “French” Poodle, as Poodles were originally developed in Germany.
    • A heart-wrenching story of Abraham Lincoln’s dog popularized the name Fido.
    • Luna and Max top the AKC’s list of most popular dog names for 2022.

    Shareables From This Episode

    • Of all the 200 AKC-recognized breeds, more than half are named to reference the place they were first noticed by Europeans or North Americans.
    • Several dogs still retain the name of a country that no longer exists such as the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Czechoslovakian Vlcak.
    • The AKC recently published the top dog names for 2022 and they are Luna (female) and Max (male).

  • S3E3: Small and Significant: The Enduring Dog Breeds of the Toy Group +

    In this pick-me-up episode, we introduce you to the characters, companions, clowns, and survivors that are the dogs of the Toy group.

    Once seen as symbols of royalty and aristocracy, dogs of the Toy group were often the coveted spoils of revolutions, war, and palace coups. The refined elegance and charm of these compact dogs assisted in their survival and solidified their place in many decidedly non-royal homes of today. Join us as we look at how favorite breeds of kings, queens, monarchs, and fashionistas both plummeted and soared in popularity.

    Bonafide Bits

    • Chihuahuas, originally named Techichis, were kept by the Toltecs to guide their human companions into the afterlife.
    • Both Pekingese and Maltese are referred to as “lion dogs.”
    • Aristotle called the elegant Maltese perfectly proportioned.
    • In 1926, Roswell Eldridge Esquire offered a hefty purse to breeders who could replicate toy Spaniels of King Charles’ time.
    • In the 1500s, Dutch traders smuggled Pugs out of China where they would become mascots in Holland’s House of Orange.

    For more information about a specific dog breed, or to find a breed rescue, visit

    Shareables From This Episode

    “If you see a pack of Pugs, you have seen a grumble.”

    “During a storm at sea, King James II of England requested his Spaniels be saved before adding that the rescuers should also save his son.”

    “As a symbol of affluence in ancient Rome, upper-crust Patrician women flaunted Maltese as fashion accessories.”

  • S3E2: Leading the Way — Part 2: Guiding Eyes, Ears, Noses, and Beyond +

    In this second installment of guide dog history, we introduce you to a new generation of service dogs and the growing, often unexpected, range of breeds being deployed.

    Today, in every part of the world service dogs are being trained and certified to guide the visually and hearing impaired. As scientists explore new frontiers in canine capabilities, evidence suggests that dogs can modify their behavior when a human’s biochemistry changes. This incredible olfactory sense offers humans yet another reason to appreciate, admire, and adore the canine counterparts who stay by their side in service.

    Bonafide Bits

    • Sorry, triviaphiles but Timmy never fell down a well on Lassie’s watch.
    • In 1938, an engineer who was hard of hearing relied on his canine pal, Rags, to know when the city water station pumps started and stopped.
    • In 1976, college students in Massachusetts began training dogs as four-legged prosthetic “ears” for human handlers.
    • On July 26, 1990, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which gave widespread accessibility to service dogs.
    • In 2018, the non-profit, Medical Mutts, trained five dogs to identify and respond to the scent of someone who is having, or just experienced, a seizure.

    For more information about a specific dog breed, or to find a breed rescue, visit

    Shareables From This Episode

    “Dogs can be trained to sense a growing list of health conditions including the onset of seizures, heart attacks, and strokes.”

    “It is a myth that humans discovered the potential of hearing dogs in the 1970s. Hearing dogs have been in service for generations.”

    “No technology exists that can replicate the vast range of the canine sense of smell. Because dogs are just that awesome.”

  • Season 3, Episode 1: Leading the Way — Part 1: The History of Guide Dogs +

    In this podcast episode, we introduce you to a pivotal moment in the story of humans and canines, the training of guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired.

    Historical data suggests that throughout the millennia, dogs have been in service to humans. From a town square in Ancient China to the perilous battlefields of World War I, dogs have sacrificed their own needs and desires to care for, save, and guide us. Trainers spend months working diligently with guide dogs and their human partners in complex training exercises to prepare them for the tasks. It just may be that dogs are the only animal on earth that provide unconditional obedience paired with unconditional love.

    Bonafide Bits

    • There are 2,100 guide dog teams across North America and 22,000 teams worldwide.
    • A 13th-century Chinese scroll depicts a dog guiding a visually impaired person.
    • Several breeds of dogs were trained to assist WW1 soldiers who were rendered sightless by poison gas.
    • In 1927, Dorothy Harrison Eustis wrote The Seeing Eye, a Saturday Evening Post magazine article that introduced America to the concept of training dogs to guide the blind and visually impaired.
    • In 1926, Minnesota Senator Thomas D. Schall introduced a bill that allowed guide dogs to accompany their humans on public transit and in restaurants, an early precursor to the public access rights given to guide dogs under the Americans With Disabilities Act

    For more information about a specific dog breed, or to find a breed rescue, visit

    Shareables From This Episode

    “In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote of guide dogs in his classic ‘A Christmas Carol.'”

    “A freak cigar-lighting accident led Senator Thomas D. Schall to introduce a bill that is the basis of guide dog accessibility laws in place today.”

    “When her guide dog Emma began having vision problems, newly sighted Sheila Hocken switched roles to guide the Labrador Retriever during the final months of her dog’s life.”

  • S2E8: All-American Dogs and the AKC: A Winning Combination +

    In this podcast episode, we introduce you to “All-American Dogs,” or mixed-breed dogs, and share some remarkable stories about them and the owners who love and train them.

    The AKC expanded American dog sports to welcome mixed-breed dogs in 2010, and they’ve been competing in events like Agility, Obedience, Fast CAT, and Scent Work ever since. These wild cards of the genus Canis can become circus performers, professional trick dogs, agility champs at Westminster, and lots more. We take a deep dive into the history of All-American Dogs in the AKC to find out more.

    Bonafide Bits

    For more information about a specific dog breed, or to find a breed rescue, visit

    Shareables From This Episode

    “AKC’s Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) program welcomes purebred dogs who aren’t eligible for registration—for example, a rescued Golden Retriever—to participate in AKC events.”

    “In the earliest days of conformation dog shows, mixed-breed dogs participated because rules were lax and breed standards didn’t yet exist.”

    “Phelan, an All-American Dog, clocked a winning 32.3 mph at American Kennel Club’s inaugural Fast CAT Invitational.”

  • S2E7: Morris & Essex: The Quintessential Dog Show +

    In this podcast episode, we tour a century and a half of dog shows. In particular, the 30-year heyday of Morris & Essex Kennel Club’s show. With research from the AKC Library and Archives, we will explore how dog shows have been dramatically reinvented over generations and how those reinventions speak volumes about the ever-evolving bond between humans and dogs.

    For three glorious decades, the hottest ticket in stateside high society was the Morris & Essex dog show. The event ushered in the platinum age of dog shows. To celebrate the long-awaited return of the great show, attendees of the 2021 rendition (originally slated for the 2020 plague year) donned fine period costumes in tribute to the show’s original creator, financier, and dog lover Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge. And, to commemorate the re-emergence of this dog lover’s quintessential event, the AKC digitized the official marked Show Catalogs and AKC Gazettes from the show’s run.

    Bonafide Bits

    • The first formal dog show is believed to have been held in New Castle, England in 1859 and sponsored by a gun maker.
    • On May 28, 1927, Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge staged the first Morris & Essex dog show featuring 595 dogs from 17 breed categories.
    • In 1899, the American Pet Dog Club had 4,000 visitors attend its dog show at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House.
    • Heralded as the first lady of dogdom, Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge became the first woman to officiate as sole judge for Best in Show at Westminster.
    • Based on the historic AKC Gazette coverage of Morris & Essex, 1935-1957, Rock Ridge Night Rocket won back-to-back Morris & Essex Best in Shows in 1947 and 1948.

    Shareables From This Episode

    “In 1927, Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge staged the first Morris & Essex dog show, featuring 595 dogs from 17 breed categories.”

    “The first Morris & Essex dog show ushered in the platinum age of dog shows for high society dog fanciers.”

    “Today’s modern Morris & Essex dog show is both an excellent show and a fond throwback to the show’s heyday, with attendees sporting period costumes both in the ring and out.”

  • S26: Pooches Who Peddle: Dogs as Corporate Mascots +

    In this podcast episode, we explore the history of dogs as brand ambassadors in corporate America’s marketing campaigns.

    Simply seeing an image of a dog can instill feelings of comfort in people, which is why corporations use compassionate canines to boost their company’s perception and peddle their products. Many of the most memorable marketing campaigns of the twentieth century included a dog as a mascot. And, research shows that the use of dogs online and in social media can dramatically increase engagement. They pose for photos, attend live events, and even give “paw-tographs” to adoring fans, but who were the real dogs behind the mascots of corporate advertising fame?

    Bonafide Bits

    • Donning a diamond-studded tiara and collar, Lady Greyhound led a successful 10-year PR campaign for Greyhound Lines.
    • 20,000 paper-mache replicas of RCA’s spokesdog, Nipper, were used as store displays.
    • A Basset Hound naturally represented easy-going, casual comfort for Hushpuppy shoes.
    • The Bull Terrier who served as the famous Spuds MacKenzie was a female named Honey Tree Evil Eye, or “Evie” for short.

    Shareables From This Episode

    “Party animal Spuds Mackenzie was a female Bull Terrier named Honey Tree Evil Eye, or ‘Evie’ for short.”

    “Even though Lady Greyhound served as the bus company’s spokesdog for 10 years, Greyhound Lines had a no-pets policy.”

    “Gidget the ‘Taco Bell’ Chihuahua also starred in a Geico commercial.”

  • S2E5: Form Follows Function in the World of Dogs +

    In this podcast episode, we explore canine anatomy to reveal the deliberate function behind the familiar forms of breeds you know. And a few breeds that are not-so-familiar.

    The way a dog is built and how it moves says a lot about its original purpose and place of origin. Whether it is to climb steep cliffs to catch birds or having a short stature to keep a nose to the ground, every aspect of a dog’s anatomy (and temperament) lends to its unique abilities. The AKC recognizes 197 distinct breeds today, and each has been purposefully bred to perfect a wide range of canine skills and talents.

    Bonafide Bits

    • Dachshund translates to “badger hound.” The breed has been around since the 1400s
    • Testimony of a Bloodhound’s findings is acceptable in almost any American court
    • The Norwegian Lundehund has a three-jointed toe, much like a human thumb

    Shareables From This Episode

    “Fiery terriers can be trained and socialized to be good neighbors and trustworthy pets.”

    “The wrinkles, long ears, and dewlap—which hangs from the neck—are designed to gather scents towards a Bloodhound’s incredible nose.”

    “Fun fact: Humans have about five million scent receptors in their noses. There are dog breeds that have 20 times that.”

  • S2E4: The Dogs of 9/11 and Beyond +

    In this podcast episode, we meet some of the brave, tireless dogs and handlers who were an integral part of the harrowing events of 9/11 and the subsequent search, rescue, and recovery effort.

    When catastrophes occur, humans and dogs team up to perform dangerous and difficult tasks. Highly-trained working dogs and their handlers must commit to long hours in perilous situations to save lives and provide comfort. The recovery efforts in the aftermath of 9/11 are a testament to a dog’s unique abilities, courage, and the therapeutic resilience that they generously share with us in times of need.

    Bonafide Bits

    • Apollo, a German Shepherd Dog, and handler Pete Davis were the first canine search and rescue team to arrive at Ground Zero.
    • Golden Retriever Bretagne and handler Diane Corliss spent 10 days searching through the World Trade Center wreckage.
    • Border Collie Sage worked recovery at the Pentagon and hurricanes Rita and Katrina before being deployed to Iraq.
    • Trakr, a German Shepherd Dog, and handler James Symington rescued a woman from World Trade Center

    Shareables From this Episode

    “Air-scenting dogs detect scent without putting their nose on the ground or against objects. They are well suited for rescue efforts.”

    “Therapy dogs are valued in difficult situations for the comfort they can provide, but even they were tested by the incomprehensible events of 9/11.”

    “Search and rescue dogs who worked at 9/11 sites were studied to see how their work impacted their lifespan.”

  • S2E3: Dogs: Stars of Myth, Legend, and Folklore +

    In this podcast episode, we gain a better understanding of why dogs play a starring role in thousands of years of human folklore and explore the very real breeds that inspired the stories.

    Dogs permeate human myth and folklore more than any other creature. Their expansive field of vision, sensitivity to high-pitched sounds, and exceptional gift of sniff could be the reason many myths and legends portray dogs as supersensory guards and protectors of mere mortals. Dogs’ roles in human stories reflect neither the good nor the bad of them—rather they demonstrate the central place dogs occupy in our shared consciousness.

    Bonafide Bits

    • “Dogs of Myth,” a book by Gerald and Loretta Hausman, chronologically captures a treasure trove of dog lore
    • In Chinese folklore, the Pekingese is known to have the heart of a lion
    • In Tibet, the Lhasa Apso is the earthly incarnation of the mythical snow lion
    • Canis Major is the constellation that includes the dog star Sirius, Orion’s hunting dog
    • In Greek mythology, Cerberus is a three-headed dog who guards the underworld of Hades.

    Shareables From This Episode

    “Legend has it, the Afghan Hound was the only dog breed to procure a spot on Noah’s Ark.”

    “Cerberus, the three-headed hellhound was only tricked thrice. Or, was he?”

    “A dog’s nose has 200 million smell receptors, more than 40 times the amount of a human.”

  • S2E2: Ask Bud: How Does a Dog Breed Become Recognized by AKC? +

    In this podcast episode, we find out what it takes for a dog breed to become recognized by the AKC, how the process works, important timelines, and hear some colorful stories about the history of breed recognition.

    In 2021, the AKC recognizes 197 breeds of dogs. Recognition can help nurture and support breeds and can be a key to a breed’s preservation. Early dog clubs tended to be unorganized, and enthusiasts sometimes held events without the rules or structure fanciers are accustomed to today. Since the early days of the organization, the AKC has moved toward standardizing the recognition process by incorporating vital components such as Stud Books and the Foundation Stock Service.

    Bonafide Bits

    • In 1877, the chaotic New York Bench Show for Dogs was the precursor to the Westminster Dog Show
    • In 1884, twelve prestigious representatives from different dog clubs united to form the preeminent American Kennel Club
    • A generous gift of a three-volume stud book by Dr. Nicholas Rowe solidified the newly-formed AKC with a framework for the recognition process
    • In 1878, the first breed recognized by the AKC was the Pointer of the Sporting Group
    • After a steadfast dedication to their cause, in 2016, Sloughi owners rejoiced as their beloved dogs achieved AKC recognition.

    Shareables From This Episode

    “AKC recognition can help nurture and support dog breeds and their fanciers.”

    “The Foundation Stock Service serves as the keeper of records for breeds that may lack a steady base or club, and is the first formal step toward recognition.”

    “A breed must have 150 dogs with three generations of pedigree in its stud book to enter AKC’s Miscellaneous Class, one step removed from full recognition.”

  • Season 2: Episode 1: Top Dogs (and Underdogs): Most Popular Dog Breeds in America +

    In this podcast episode, we explore the breeds that ranked on both ends of the spectrum of AKC’s statistics for dog breed popularity in 2020.

    Dog breeds say a lot about America. Popular culture, urban sprawl, and economics are some of the many factors that can influence people to choose one breed over another. Sometimes the rise of certain breeds can be linked to a canine character in a book, television series, or movie. But, remember, “most popular” doesn’t mean “better.”

    We explore breeds at the top of the list and the “underdogs” at the other end of the list that share their traits and purpose.

    Bonafide Bits

    • A Labrador Retriever (No. 1) has topped the AKC’s most popular list since 1991
    • In the late 1800s, the Golden Retriever (No. 4) was developed by Dudley Marjoribanks as the ideal gun dog
    • The Harrier (No. 190), a hunting powerhouse, is rare today but has been part of America since colonial times
    • The rare Chinook (No. 186) was bred with similar intent to the mischievous Siberian Husky (No. 16) and is the state dog of New Hampshire

    Shareables From This Episode

    “Most popular doesn’t make one breed better than another but it does reveal some fascinating insights into people, trends, demographics, and in many ways America itself.”

    “The French Bulldog is made for the city which might explain why it’s the number one dog in major U.S. centers from LA to New York.”

  • S1E8: What’s in a Name? The Eponymous Breeders Who Brought Great Dogs to Life +

    In this podcast episode, we recall the stories of the individuals who brought about great dog breeds and how some famous breeds came to be named for individuals.

    The world’s beloved dog breeds are the product of careful, patient breeding by many people over many years. But, occasionally, a great breed is the product of years of painstaking work by an individual. Some of these people are fondly remembered by generations of dog fanciers. Others are forgotten and some live on through their canine namesakes. They are the hobbyists, scientists, even tax collectors whose purpose-bred dogs make the world a better place. This is a short history of how some dogs got their names.

    Bonafide Bits

    • In the early 1950s, a Doberman Pinscher named Storm won Westminster’s Best in Show, two years in a row
    • The Gordon Setter was among the breeds recognized when the AKC was founded in 1884
    • Hollywood elites Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, and Cary Grant all kept Sealyham Terriers
    • The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is the only breed named after a fictional character
    • North Carolina’s state dog, the Plott Hound, was bred to be a big game hunter
    • Sir Edwin Landseer’s painting ‘Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveler’ hangs in the AKC Museum of the Dog

    Shareables From This Episode

    “When the Romans first beheld the Irish Wolfhound they were wonderstruck.”

    “The world’s beloved dog breeds are the product of careful, patient breeding by many people over many years”.

    “The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is the only dog breed named after a fictional character.”

  • S1E7: War Dogs: The History of Dogs in Hostile Territory +

    In this podcast episode, we tour the story of canine warriors and how after thousands of years they are only now starting to get the respect and attention they deserve.

    From helping Roman legions break through enemy lines to protecting U.S. military forces in Vietnam, dogs have played an integral part in human warfare. Their keen sense of smell, ability to detect the slightest movements, and their undying loyalty has made them invaluable in conflict-burdened battle scenes around the world. Let’s look at the brave breeds who have saved countless human lives.

    Bonafide Bits

    • Romans attached vats of burning oil to the backs of the now-extinct ancient Molossus breed to break through enemy lines
    • Border Collies are the product of old Roman dogs and Viking spitzes bred for herding in the rocky highlands of Scotland
    • In 1884, Germany established the first military school for training war dogs
    • In 1908, the AKC recognized the Doberman Pinscher and the German Shepherd Dog breeds
    • AKC judge Ernest Loeb and his German Shepherd Dog left Hitler’s Germany to win Best of Breed at the Westminster Dog Show
    • The legendary Marine Devil Dog unit consisted of three German Shepherd Dogs and twenty-one Doberman Pinschers
    • Four thousand dogs served the United States military during the Vietnam War. Of those, 350 were killed in action and less than 200 returned home

    Shareables From This Episode

    “It’s a testament to both that the Viet Cong put a bounty on both dogs and their military handlers.”

    “Dobermans were ideal scouts because of their ability to distinguish among various scents. They could detect body odor 100 yards away.”

    “Roman occupation influenced every aspect of British life, including dog breeding.”

  • S1E6: Hounds of State: Canine Sidekicks of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. +

    In this podcast episode, we tour a couple of centuries of presidential dogs, the canine confidants of our Commanders-in-Chief.

    America truly is the land of opportunity. Just ask the lucky dogs who went from rags to riches solely from being in the right place, on the side of the road, at the right time. Dogs have been a welcome presence in the White House since the time of George Washington.

    For an in-person tour through Presidential pups, visit the AKC Museum of the Dog in New York. The Museum’s Presidential Dogs exhibit opens to the public on September 8, 2020.

    Bonafide Bits

    • George Washington was a dog lover and a serious breeder
    • Warren G. Harding’s Airedale Terrier, Laddie Boy, was featured in thousands of press stories
    • Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier, Fala, was mentioned in the President’s speech to labor leaders
    • George H. W. Bush’s English Springer Spaniel, Millie, became a best-selling author
    • Barack Obama gifted his daughters a Portuguese Water Dog puppy after winning the Presidential election

    Shareables From This Episode

    “Presidential pups have had popularity ratings their Commanders-in-Chief could only dream of.”

    “Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a Scottish Terrier named Murray the Outlaw of Falahill, popularly known as Fala.”

    “From bed to shed, America is the land of canine opportunity.”

  • S1E5: Working Class Heroes & Upper Class Companions +

    In this podcast episode, we uncover the backstories of how magnificent working-class dogs and their pampered brethren helped shape the story of humans.

    For thousands of years, different dog breeds have been specifically trained and kept based on the needs of the households they occupied. To protect their food supply and livelihoods, peasants and farmers required dogs to maintain flocks, guard the house, and kill rodents while lofty upper-class citizens kept sizable kennels of hunting, toy, and companion dogs to show their stature in society. Many aristocrats even included their beloved pets in their commissioned portraiture and art collections. Let’s take a gander at the former predators who could drive geese to market and those who could poshly pose for a painting.

    Bonafide Bits

    • The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, or “Swissie,” is a descendant of the war dogs used by Julius Caesar’s armies and can pull thousands of pounds.
    • Just the scent of urine from the Great Pyrenees is enough to keep predators away.
    • Mary Queen of Scots thought Maltese Terriers were heads above the rest.
    • Queen Victoria owned up to 35 Pomeranians at once.
    • Pembroke Welsh Corgis are bred to herd cattle and drive geese to market.
    • Chaser, a Border Collie memorized more than 1,000 different toy names.

    Shareables From This Episode

    “Did you know Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Siberian Huskies are cousins?”

    “Many of today’s most intelligent, strongest, and most responsive dogs descend from breeds taught to help peasants, hunters, and the poor working class.”

    “Roman iconography tells us toy dog breeds were a sign of stature.”

  • S1E4: Saved From Extinction: Endangered Breeds Brought Back From the Brink +

    In this podcast episode, we will be exploring the ebb and flow of different dog breeds throughout history and what some extraordinary people have done (and are currently doing) to bring breeds back from the brink.

    Ever since the first human domesticated the first canine, our species have been forever intricately linked. Throughout history, dogs have lessened our load, protected our assets, and been faithful companions. So, it’s only fair we return the favor. But, when a purpose-bred dog breed has fulfilled its purpose, who helps preserve four-legged family lines? The champions of endangered breeds, that’s who. They create breed awareness, fund breeding programs, and even collect “seeds” to keep beloved breeds from going extinct. Find out more about the dedicated cynophiles who have kept their favorite breeds’ extinction at bay.

    Bonafide Bits

    • In 1949, Frida Kahlo affectionately includes her beloved Señor Xolotl in her poignant “The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth, Myself, Diego, and Señor Xolotl.”

      The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego, and Señor Xolotl Frida Kahlo painting
      Courtesy of
      The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego, and Señor Xolotl, Frida Kahlo, 1949
      Courtesy of
      The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego, and Señor Xolotl, Frida Kahlo, 1949
    • In 1955, Archduchess Felix of Austria funded an expedition led by Norman Pelham Wright to find the endangered Xoloitzcuintli for breeding purposes.
    • Food shortages and atomic bombs almost wiped out Akitas.
    • During World War II, Great Pyrenees hauled artillery over the Pyrenees mountains to aid French soldiers.
    • The Red Army of communist China exacerbated the decline of the Chinese Shar-Pei.
    • There are fewer than 800 Otterhounds left, making them rarer than the giant panda.

    Shareables From This Episode

    “The Otterhound is rarer than the giant panda. Right now there are fewer than 800 Otterhounds globally.”

    “Dog breed extinction can happen for many reasons, but it is typically linked to societal disruption and upheaval.”

    “Fossilized remains of a Great Pyrenees have been dated back to 1000 BC.”

  • S1E3: Hollywood Hounds: Transforming American Dog Culture Through Films +

    This podcast episode we’ll be looking at some of the biggest canine stars in showbiz and their lasting cultural impact in Hollywood and throughout our culture.

    The Dog Star, Canis major, may be the brightest star in the sky, but it pales in comparison to the dog stars of the big screen. When Timmy fell down the well, audiences knew Lassie would come to his rescue, and when Pongo prevailed over Cruella, movie fans cheered. For more than a century, humans have been paying to watch canine conundrums and hounds be heroes. Some movies lead to an uptick of ownership of a particular breed, based on a character a dog played in a film. Listen in to discover why humans watch dogs.

    Bonafide Bits

    • In 1921, Strongheart, a German Shepherd Dog, played the role of Flash in the Hollywood movie, “The Silent Call.”
    • Rin Tin Tin starred in 27 motion pictures, and “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin” was a popular radio program.
    • The real name of the forever famous Toto from the “Wizard of Oz” was Terry.
    • Unfortunately, Walt Disney’s movie, “101 Dalmatians” made Dalmatians America’s fad-dog at the time.
    • Christopher Guest’s “Best in Show” is a mockumentary that portrays dogs as dignified and handlers as disobedient.

    Shareables From this Episode:

    “For the studios, accustomed to the foibles of high-priced divas and scandal-prone, egocentric humans, reliable, obedient ‘dog stars’ were manna from heaven.”

    “Every type of dog needs just the right owner.”

    “Which furry film star is your favorite?”

  • S1E2: 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

    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.”

  • Season 1: 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

    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.”