Each year, the American Kennel Club throws Meet the Breeds in New York City's Jacob Javits Center. More than 200 breeds of cats and dogs are available for cuddling and photo ops (if you can get them to sit still!). We hit the floor to bring you adorable pictures and interesting factoids about 24 breeds.
Abyssinians have uniquely colored coats thanks to a dominant mutant gene that gives each strand of fur a base color, then three bands of darker colors. The hair is lighter at the root, and darker at the ends. The first cat to have its entire genome published was an Abyssinian.
English Springer Spaniel
In 19th and early 20th century Britain, a litter of spaniels would be divided up by size: The smaller dogs were used to hunt woodcock, and were called "Cockers"; bigger dogs were used to flush, or spring, game, and were called "Springers." The first English Springer Spaniel came to Canada from England in 1913.
These cats get their teddy bear good looks thanks to a short but extremely dense coat, which creates a plush effect. Look familiar? The British Shorthair was the inspiration for Puss in Boots and the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.
Savannahs are a cross between domestic cats and Servals, a wild African cat; they can weigh 20 pounds or more, and can be trained to walk on a leash. The breed was accepted by the International Cat Association in 2001.
The first attempts at creating this breed began in 1966, when a hairless kitten was born in Ontario, Canada. That kitten, a male named Prune, was bred with other cats in an attempt to create more hairless kittens, but because hairlessness is caused by a recessive gene, those attempts had limited success. More naturally hairless cats were found in Minnesota and Toronto between 1975 and 1978, and these cats were bred with Devon Rex, another cat with little body hair. The Sphynx breed—so-named for its resemblance to the Egyptian Sphinx sculpture—traces its history back to those cats.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Known as "the corgi with a tail," this breed is descended from the Teckel or Dachshund family. They were not declared to be a separate breed from the better known Pembroke Welsh Corgi until 1934.
These exotic-looking felines are a hybrid of domestic cats and Asian leopard cats, which gives their coats a distinctive marbled and spotted pattern. Bengals are only domestic breed that has rosettes—a spot with a center that is halfway between the color of the coat and the color of the spot—like the ones found on jaguars and ocelots.
The ancestors of these dogs—who have a nose for rats and other vermin—came from England's East Anglia and Leicestershire regions, near Cambridge. In fact, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, breeders would sell these terriers to Cambridge University students (the dogs got rid of rats in the dorms).
Since the late 1980s, breeders have been trying to replicate the pattern and colors on the coats of tigers. Hence, the toyger. The cats that started off this trend were a striped domestic shorthair named Scrapmetal; a Bengal named Millwood Rumpled Spotskin; and a street cat from Kashmir, India, named Jammu Blu, who had spots between his ears instead of typical tabby lines.
Bull terriers go all the way back to 19th century England, when James Hinks bred existing bull-and-terriers (crosses between bulldogs and various terriers), his own white Bulldog Madman and White English Terriers (which are now extinct). The dogs, called White Cavaliers in that day because of their all-white coats, were crossed with brindle Staffordshire terriers in the early 1900s to create a colored variety.
Though this dog was not shown as a specific breed until the late 19th century, it can be seen in paintings of hunting scenes from the 18th century. Border Terriers were used by shepherds, farmers and poachers who needed a terrier who could keep up with the horses, go to ground to kill or bolt game, and fit in comfortably in their homes.
Wire Fox Terrier
For 100 years, the fox terrier was shown in the United States as one breed with two varieties—Smooth and Wire. Separate standards were approved in 1985. The ancestor of the wire is thought to be rough-coated terriers of Wales, Derbyshire, and Durham.
The Maine Coon gets its name from a widespread, by biologically impossible, legend—that the breed originated from matings between semi-wild domestic cats and raccoons. Another popular theory: the breed came from six pet cats sent to Wiscasset, Maine by Marie Antoinette as she was planning to escape from France during the French Revolution. Most likely, Maine Coons are a cross between domestic shorthair cats and longhairs brought to America by New England seamen or Vikings.
The breeder who originally developed the Ragdoll breed claimed the matriarchal cat, Josephine, was genetically altered at a medical center where she was taken after she was hit by a car. Afterward, all of her kittens were born with the laid-back personalities this breed is known for (apparently all the kittens born before Josephine's hospitalization acted like normal kittens).
This quiet dog helped kooikers (decoy men) lure ducks into traps. Its name means small Dutch decoy dog; the breed is not yet fully recognized by the American Kennel Club.
This cat has a thick, plush, curly coat that actually comes from a dominant gene. The first Selkirk was born to a house cat in Montana in 1987, and was bred with a black Persian, creating three curly haired and three straight haired kittens.