Why are they called “Terriers,” “Pekingese,” and “Bluetick Coonhounds?”

Many people approach the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with a combination of fascination and trepidation. Awfully cute canines appear in some odd situations. Here’s some information about the fascinating names of the breeds considered the top contenders for Best in Show this year, as well as the poetic and eccentric name of one of the dog breeds making their official debut, the Bluetick Coonhound.

This year the front-runners for Best in Show are two Smooth Fox Terriers, one named Dodger and the other named Adam, a Pekingese named Malachy, and a Boxer named Scarlett.

The Terrier group has earned more than twice as many wins as any other group competing for the top prize. “Terrier” comes from the same root as “terrain.” The Old French basis for terrier is chien terrier, literally “earth dog,” named for the burrowing creatures they were bred to pursue.  The Smooth Fox Terrier is named for its smooth, dense coat and for the cunning burrower known as the fox.

(An aside: do you know why the common word “dog” is considered a mystery of the English language? Find out, here.)

Dating back to 800 A.D., the Pekingese or “Peke” is an ancient breed of toy, or small, dog originating in China. The name relates to the ancient city of Peking, now Beijing. Commonly referred to as the lion dog due to their likeness to the Chinese guardian lion, Pekingese were held sacred in ancient China, where the punishment for stealing them was death.

It is surmised that the name “Boxer” is derived from the breed’s propensity to stand on its hind legs and playfully ‘box’ with its front paws. Developed in Germany in the late 19th century, the Boxer was bred from the English Bulldog and the now extinct Bullenbeisser. The breed was introduced to the United States around the turn of the 20th century. In 1915, a Boxer named Dampf vom Dom was the first of its breed to win Best In Show at Westminster. Evidence that the name was popular years before the introduction of the breed, Boxer is the name of the dog owned by John Peerybingle, the main character in the best selling 1845 book The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens.

The Bluetick Coonhound is one of six new breeds being introduced at Westminster this year. Originating in Louisiana, the Bluetick is a descendant of the French bred Grand Bleu de Gascogne and the English Foxhound. The name is derived from the Bluetick’s coat pattern: dark blue in color and covered in a ‘ticking’ or mottled pattern.

Perhaps this year will see the crowning of a new breed and the underdog will have its day. Are there any other breeds or you’d like to know about, or do you have any other questions that are dogging you? Let us know.
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  1. Hines -  September 18, 2011 - 11:08 am

    This is the perfect way to break down this ifnoarmtion.

  2. ✿D.C✿ -  February 24, 2011 - 12:09 am

    All dogs are beautiful. <3
    I love dogs.

  3. love dogs -  February 16, 2011 - 12:31 pm

    i could care less about my dog being a purebred. she is a mutt rescued in the back ally with her mom and litter. she’s a champion in my heart! btw, i love that pedigree add. there is nothing wrong with a shelter dog. they are make you realise, how much they need you. and they promise that they will be loyal, willing, and loving. plese adopt a shelter dog.

  4. annie -  February 16, 2011 - 12:19 pm

    all those dogs should get a prize! they all deserve it! they were being so good! all the dogs are “best in show!” I LOVE DOGS!!!

  5. lilly -  February 16, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    i would like you to PLEASE READ!!!:some of my friend are scared of big dogs because they got bit by a pit bull or something. ITS NOT THE BREED OR THE DOG, ITS THE OWNERS WHO DON’T KNOW SQAT ABOUT THEIR ANIMAL!!!!
    lots of breeds are misunderstood because their big! A CHIHUAHUA IS MORE
    (no offence!) LIKELY TO BITE THAN A BIG DOG! i’m giving a message to help stop abuse!

  6. danyel -  February 16, 2011 - 11:50 am

    I love dogs and I agree as well. Its interesting.:)

  7. Ooga Booga -  February 16, 2011 - 11:46 am

    Long Haired German Shepard Dogs rule!!

    I did however like that dog in the show with the long dredlocks…OMG!!! He looked like a walking mop!

  8. WESTMINSTER | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  February 16, 2011 - 11:23 am

    [...] dog and pony show. — Westminster without Rousseau. — He’s more of a philosopher Standard Poodle — his Grand father [...]

  9. Mtnsmith -  February 16, 2011 - 10:56 am

    To the person who inquired where the term ‘coonhound’ comes from: they were bred to hunt ‘coons (raccoons). This activity takes place at night, with the dogs chasing and treeing the ‘coon so the hunter can then shoot it (or not; now that eating ‘coon is out of fashion, along with coon-skin caps, many people just enjoy a night out in the woods with the music of the hounds echoing off the ridges, and let the treed critter go on its way afterwards.)

  10. coop -  February 16, 2011 - 10:56 am

    Si, Phyllis, simple answer for you: don’t watch.

  11. J.Blair -  February 16, 2011 - 10:34 am

    To Phyllis:
    Don’t you think your being kind of hard on people who just happen to enjoy dog training and showing? Every organized activity has it’s drawbacks and problems, but dog showing makes some people happy, and it’s good to have happy people in the world. Believe it or not, the dogs like it too. Now whoever is abusing a dog should be reported, but that is surely an exception, not the rule with show dogs. Nothing is perfect, you don’t have to like dog shows, so just go out on the few nights that they keep you from watching your favorite shows. Like you sai yourself, it’s more fun to go out and exercise.

  12. Junfan Mantovani -  February 16, 2011 - 9:47 am

    Bluetick Coonhounds, never seen them for sale where I live. I own 2 mullethounds.

  13. Elissa Sangi -  February 16, 2011 - 9:40 am

    Dear John, That is really crude and distasteful. I bet you REAL DISTASTEFUL. Better you keep that mouthful to yourself!

  14. Elissa Sangi -  February 16, 2011 - 9:36 am

    What I find utterly disgusting, is how certain breeds of today look nothing as the breed did in, perhaps, let us say, the 1800′s. One of these breeds is the bulldog. The name originated from the fact they herded and kept bulls in check. Raised on a dairy farm, I can tell you a bull is NO JOKE. They are mean and they will scare the living crap out of you. So, the original bulldog was a bad mo’ fo’. I find what they have done to the bulldog, tho’ today’s bulldog is loving and beautiful and I would truly love to own one, is a travesty. The breed today is actually a danger to its’ self. The expanded rib cage, the small legs, make it difficult for the dog to breathe and this Frankenstein science was done only for mans’ satisfaction, no betterment to the breed. The bulldog is only one example of an original breed,altered and justified thru science, never to be had again.

  15. Aimes -  February 16, 2011 - 9:08 am

    I love dogs!

  16. UpNorthGal -  February 16, 2011 - 9:06 am

    Have any of you who criticize actually attended a dog show? Breeding purebred dogs is a hobby/business for people who love these breeds of dogs. It has nothing to do with snobbery. Purebred dogs are consistent in looks and temperament from one litter to the next and many breeders attempt to bring out the best characteristics of each of the parents who contribute to the litter. As to trainers being abusive as some of you have asserted . . . abused dogs do not do well around people . . . they are often either aggressive or cowardly, neither one of which bodes well in the show ring. Many dog breeders’ lives revolve around their animals who are sometimes treated better than other members of the family! When they’re well fed, groomed frequently and treated well . . . it shows by their beautiful shiny coats and their loving personalities. Before criticizing, go to some dog shows and find out first hand.

  17. Mark V -  February 16, 2011 - 8:48 am

    “People talk about genetic manipulation like it’s a new, scary possibility; but it’s been done for centuries with animals and plants through crossbreeding. All domesticated plants and animals now living contain very little of their original, “unadulterated” DNA.”
    More than likely been done for thousands of years, even. As long as we’ve had shepards, we’ve let the wooliest ones breed to develope woolier sheep.

    Carrots used to be most commonly purple, with several other colors (orange being rarer)
    Then some farmers decided to honor the Dutch nobility the “Orange dynasty” family, and grew more orange carrots.

  18. Elissa Sangi -  February 16, 2011 - 8:43 am

    When I was a child,4 or 5 years, my father got the family a Bouvier des Flanders. My older sister named him ‘Titus’ and he was a great dog. I could never remember the name of the breed and the man up the block would always seriously tease me, telling me Titus was a ‘Heinz 57′; in other words a mutt. However, I was and still am curious to know if the Bouvier comes in miniature, like a Schnauzer. Would anyone know the answer to this? It would be greatly appreciated. Pls contact elissasangi@yahoo.com. Thanks

  19. Jenna -  February 16, 2011 - 7:11 am


  20. Skidz -  February 16, 2011 - 6:58 am

    Si Phyllis. Not every dog in the show is not allowed to be a dog. My Mom trained and showed Akitas. Miko and Mosimo were only show dogs in the ring. They went to dog parks, played in the mud, their favorite thing to do, had their bedroom with a couch in it. Mosimo loved to play fetch and Miko used to catch and bring live squirrels in the house. They were magnificent in their beauty, hence the show dog, but always a dog first, allowed to do dog stuff. Prancing in the ring is no big deal. Yeah some people take it too far and don’t ever get the true experience of man’s best friend but most do not. You should go to a local dog show one day and walk around and talk to some of the trainers and owners you might be surprised to find that the dogs “change” their demeanor when they hit the ring. They know they’re working. Now circus animals on the other hand……don’t get me started.

  21. CKT -  February 16, 2011 - 6:55 am

    People talk about genetic manipulation like it’s a new, scary possibility; but it’s been done for centuries with animals and plants through crossbreeding. All domesticated plants and animals now living contain very little of their original, “unadulterated” DNA.

  22. David -  February 16, 2011 - 6:50 am


    Coonhound – A hound (hunting dog known for tailing scent) for hunting racoons. Usually to chase them up a tree where the hunter can then catch them

  23. John Sparrow -  February 16, 2011 - 6:35 am

    Thank you, @ Si, Phyllis, for providing a bit of clarity to an otherwise meaningless event. I, too, have questioned why parading dogs around just to show them off for the high-brow community really, truly means anything.

    Also, @wordjunkie, I love your comments as well. Where ARE all of the “true” pure-bred animals. There are probably more crossbreeds than there were original “true” breeds.

    Dictionary.com, thanks for this article!

  24. juggs -  February 16, 2011 - 6:30 am

    @animal crazy girl

    I think the PLOTT HOUND must be an awesome dog indeed if it can “tree” a wild boar. Boar aren’t very good at climbing trees.

  25. john rhea -  February 16, 2011 - 6:24 am

    I have cross bred my mexican hairless and my cockerspaniel. I am hoping to one day, show my hairless cock on the W.K.C.D.S.

  26. Si, Phyllis -  February 15, 2011 - 9:40 pm

    By the way, that’s an adorable picture of a dog you have as the avatar of this article.

  27. guesswho -  February 15, 2011 - 8:57 pm

    This was very informational i wish i was able to afford everydog a house bcuz i love them to death.! well almost.I love all animals even if they arent even tamed even if i have never seen nor touched one i stlll lovem up well one time i went to this place and i petted a dead elk that hunters killed and they put his body up for display which was really cool and it felt wierd like i felt its leg right by the hoove and i felt was a furry hard bone but was a nice experience

  28. guesswho -  February 15, 2011 - 8:48 pm

    I agree with you kk and alix!:)

  29. Yami -  February 15, 2011 - 7:43 pm

    What about Labrador? Or Rottwailer?

  30. S.C -  February 15, 2011 - 7:08 pm

    i like all animals………………….or shall i say love them. But idk y they have to have contest. To me that is mean!!!! Just imagine ur dog,cat,ect. saying “y do i have 2 do this i dont like it” and for others they like it

  31. kk -  February 15, 2011 - 5:27 pm

    I agree with alix, i love dogs and cats and other animals.:)

  32. Emma -  February 15, 2011 - 5:22 pm


  33. wordjunkie -  February 15, 2011 - 3:31 pm

    I would like to know who chooses which breeds to cross to create all of these “new” breeds. Doesn’t it seem a little odd that in order to have a “pure-bred” dog, it has to come from two cross breeds? Whatever happened to the days when a labrodor was a labrodor, and a poodle was a poodle? And why is it that I can find the cross of these two more easily than I can find the original breeds?

  34. Si, Phyllis -  February 15, 2011 - 2:49 pm

    “Many people approach the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with a combination of fascination and trepidation.”

    •You forgot to put “contempt” and “apathy” as well.
    - “Contempt” because many people dissent from the “art” – if you can call it that – of making dogs be, well, anything but dogs, just for so-called televised entertainment. To summarize, I know a certain number of people who find what the “trainers” of the dogs do on the W.K.C.D.S. to be quite inhumane.
    - “Apathy” because many people don’t find watching some snobby, corpulent beguiler run around in a circle with their dog on a leash very interesting, at least in comparison to other television programs that they could watch instead.

    • You did get one thing right though, “trepidation.” Many people find the fact that the W.K.C.D.S. overrides the time slot of a show that they may like to watch just downright irritating.

    • To conclude, why conform to the standard of being a couch potato by watching dogs be unnecessarily scrutinized on television for “entertainment” when you can get out and play or exercise with your own canine companion? Now that’s what I call entertainment!

  35. Rose -  February 15, 2011 - 2:37 pm

    I really enjoyed this article! I thought it was amazing and yet very useful. It had a lot of information. I hope that any new breed should win a prize of anything!!! Even just being themselves! All dogs should get a chance of being a star! Even if they r not pure bred. Even though those r one of the best, well other people do. Not all, though. I am not at all bashing on the people that like pure breds, Im just saying. All dogs and people deserve the best. Of both worlds!!! I think that the most misunderstood dogs are the: Pit Bull, Doberman Pinsher, Rottwieler, and even sometimes the Chow Chow. Some other dogs r disgriminated against, but those ones may have it the worst. The name “Pit Bull” is actually a nick-name. The Pit Bull is actually known as the Standfordshire Bull Terrier. The Pit Bull would be placed in pits and to fight one another, Hence the name “Pit Bull.” I personally love the Pit Bull. Others may disagree and others may agree. Im just speaking or in this case typing my oppinion!!! Enjoy my bit of information!!! If you would like to say anything or type something, then just e-mail me at “free2bcowgal@yahoo.com” Love yal!!! <3

  36. Aimee C. -  February 15, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    I think that this article was amazing!!! It was not only amazing & cool, but it also was very useful & had good info. I love all dog breeds!!! I am more of a dog person than other animals. I think that dogs of all breeds, sizes, color, weight, shape, or legnth, r all willing 2 please their owner or other people! Dogs r very loyal & wanting to be loved. I think 1 of the most misunderstood dogs would be the: Pit Bull, Rottweiler, and sometimes the DoberMan Pinsher. The Pit Bull is one of the most. The name Pit Bull is actually a nick name. They’re actually known as Standfordeshire Bull Terriers, but were faught in pits, hence the “Pit Bull.” Enjoy my bit of info!!!!! Write soon later or even e-mail me!!!! Please do

  37. Ezekiel Rage -  February 15, 2011 - 2:05 pm

    If you’re reading this, odds are you’re not the first to comment.

  38. Mac -  February 15, 2011 - 1:37 pm

    And ‘coonhound’? Where does that come from please?

  39. animal crazy girl -  February 15, 2011 - 1:25 pm

    i agree. i loved this article. i have a dog called a PLOTT HOUND, and there was one in the show last night. the plott is a rare, but beautfiul dog.
    they were bred in germany by the plott brothers and was brought to america in 1780. they have a coat called brindle(same as a tiger.). you may see brindle on great danes, but the thing is, its rare if the dog is not brindle. if you saw a plott in the show last night, it was black. not brown like mine. no offence, but you can apreciate the breed standards more when its brown. all plotts have a white tipped tail. and they where bred for treeing bear and wild boar. its a cool breed. and it was an awsome dog show!

  40. alix -  February 15, 2011 - 1:06 pm

    i love dogs

  41. Ruby -  February 15, 2011 - 12:51 pm

    Very interesting, I personally hope a new breed such as the Bluetick wins best in show.(:


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