One of the most prestigious events in the glamorous world of show dogs took place at the weekend in Long Beach, California on 12th & 13th December, hosted by the AKC/Eukanuba National Championships at their 125th Special Anniversary Show. 40 Top winning, accomplished international dogs intensely competed for the highly prized Eukanuba World Challenge Champion title along with the $10,000 prize money awarded by the distinguished worldwide judge, Mr Frank Sabella from America. The newly crowned Eukanuba World Challenge Champion 2009 is a Bracco Italiano, Multi BIS & Multi Ch Axel del Monte Alago, owned by Salvatore Tripoli & Bitte Ahrens. Bitte, who was clearly overwhelmed by the win said, “We are so proud to have represented our country and won over these other amazing dogs. This win, awarded by an American judge is truly a once in a lifetime achievement for us and Axel. We were delighted with our World Show BIS however this was something extra special, something we will treasure forever”.

The runner up was Nicklas & Ingunn Erikson’s Saluki Ch Shiraz Califorinia Dreaming was awarded $3,000 and the first runner up Victor Malzoni’s Wire Fox Terrier Ch Sanherping Arepa was awarded $2,000.

Frank Sabella says of his winner “This dog captured my attention and that of the appreciative spectators as he entered the ring. Watching him go around made the hair on my arms stand up. Having gone over him, he fitted his breed standard to perfection. He was selected from an excellent line up of dogs, he was absolutely outstanding in type”

Richard Learwood, Eukanuba Global Marketing Director said, “It’s great to see this magnificent Italian bred dog representing his country and winning among such extraordinary top class competition. The Eukanuba World Challenge goes from strength to strength, and continues to grow in prestige and has fast become one of the most coveted events in the dog show calendar. It is great to work with the American Kennel Club and the FCI to continue this high level of success.”


The 2008 Eukanuba World Challenge was a spectacular universal extravaganza, a pinnacle in the canine show calendar. This event featured 52 of the world’s most prominent top winning dogs.

They were flown to Long Beach, Calif., from around the globe to vie for the highly regarded title “Eukanuba World Challenge Champion,” along with the $10,000 prize money. This awe-inspiring “challenge” hosted at the principle AKC/Eukanuba National Championships Dec. 13-14, was made possible by Eukanuba, the global and pioneering company of premium dog nutrition, working in cooperation with the American Kennel Club and the FCI (The Fédération Cynologique Internationale).

“With 52 international competitors at the Eukanuba World Challenge it was an incredible experience to see so many excellent quality dogs at one venue,” said Ron Menaker, Show Chairman. “We are very fortunate to have an experienced judging panel of highly regarded breed experts to evaluate the world’s top winning dogs. This World Challenge event is a highlight during the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship with nearly 400,000 square feet of event space, 3,000 dogs in competition, dozens of vendors, 148 educational displays and numerous demonstrations. There is nothing that can compare to this complete canine extravaganza.”

The 12 “World Challenge” finalists, having been initially selected from their section (three dogs from each of the four pre-designated geographical regions), were judged by the distinguished Hans Muller, FCI President and All Breed Judge.

He revealed the Eukanuba World Champion 2008 as the Saluki “Dakira Sawahin” from Germany, owned, bred and handled by Dagmar Hintzenberg-Freisleben. After winning the Challenge, an ecstatic Dagmar declared, “I got it; I made a dream come true.”

Said Muller, “It was tremendous and thrilling to be involved with the Eukanuba World Challenge in Long Beach. I consider it a great honour to have been invited to judge some of the world’s top dogs. The Eukanuba World Challenge is truly something special, an event with a very specific glamorous and prestigious flavour, something which every judge would like to have the opportunity to see and judge once in one’s career. The event is two years old now, and I see a great future for it thanks to the help, the support and the expertise of Eukanuba, AKC and the FCI, which I sincerely thank. Breeders all over the world are able to produce excellent dogs, healthy and in conformation with their breed standard. These are the most important considerations when producing dogs. Once again, congratulations to ‘my’ winner, “Dakira,” and to all the other competitors for qualifying. It was a great ‘Challenge,’ and I do hope that everyone had as much fun as I had.”