'Royal dog of Madagascar' to join Westminster pack

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NEW YORK (AP) -- A hardy Hungarian hunting dog and a pet known as the "royal dog of Madagascar" will join the pack at the Westminster Kennel Club show next year, organizers announced Friday.

The kennel club said the wire-haired visla and the coton de tulear will be eligible to compete for the first time in the New York show next February.

The wire-haired visla is a medium-size breed developed to hunt in northern Hungary's cold winters and rough terrain. It's related to the visla, which has a smooth coat.

The coton de tulear is a small, cheerful companion dog with a long, white, cotton-like coat.

"While they differ in exercise and grooming needs, both are sweet, loyal, loving family companions," said Gina DiNardo, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, the governing body for Westminster and many other canine events.

Breeds are added to the prestigious Westminster dog show after they are recognized by the AKC. Recognition requires having several hundred dogs of the breed nationwide, among other criteria. With the newcomers, there are now 180 AKC-recognized breeds.

Westminster also announced that the AKC's popular, non-competitive "Meet the Breeds" event will be held in conjunction with the February dog show. The breeds event has been held in the fall for several years.

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