In time, this will be dated information, but for now, we’re excited about the two new breeds being added to the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service Program (FSS). Drumroll, please!
The excitement stems from the prospect of being to encounter the Japanese Spitz and/or Bohemian Shepherd at FSS open shows, informal AKC sanctioned events that allow owners and their FSS & Miscellaneous Class breeds a chance to get ring experience. The AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin often includes FSS/Miscellaneous Breeds Open Shows, as did the recent Belgian Laekenois National Specialty in Covington, Louisiana which is where we caught up with several Pyrenean Mastiff owners.
Later, we’ll be discussing the Japanese Spitz, but this post touches upon the Bohemian Shepherd, also known as the Chodsky Pes, a tenaciously loyal breed historically tasked with guarding provincial trails, protecting their masters’ property and helping round up stock in Czechoslovakia. With a history traceable to the 14th Century, it might be the oldest of all native Czech dog breeds, and the breed may be even older as it was developed centuries before the creation of Czechoslovakia.
J.A. Gabriel writing about the historical region of Chodsko described local people who had the nickname “Dog-heads” because their pennants, or flags, all featured the silhouette of the head of a typical sheepdog with a longer coat at the neck. Not just a source of pride over a dog, the flag image reflected pride over being one of eleven villages selected by the King to have twenty-four privileges bestowed upon them, liberties superior even to those enjoyed by townsmen in the larger settlement of Domažlice. One of those rights was permission to breed their dogs – Bohemian Shepherds – which legend says accompanied them on in their duties. The dogs lent their image to their shields which is the source for the name, “Dog-Heads.” About 700 years later, communist border guards would use the same image as their emblem.
The homeland of the Bohemian Shepherd has one of the most turbulent histories of any country in Europe, having endured invasions, countless battles, surges of immigration – and the breed has endured. Its superior intelligence, immense trainability, and family-friendly temperament has made it a popular companion, but the breed is eminently suitable for a variety of tasks: They are successful seeing-eye dogs, serve as therapy dogs, police dogs, SAR work, and as service dogs for the handicapped, and are also found on military bases dogs. The Bohemian Shepherd is one of the few breeds that is seeing its role as a working dog expand, not shrink.
Image: Bohemian Shepherd by Krosandra – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30978677