Dog co-owned by country’s Tim McGraw wins new breed at show

May 9, 2023, 12:47 PM

A judge examines dogs competing in the bracco Italiano breed during the breed's debut at the 147th ...

A judge examines dogs competing in the bracco Italiano breed during the breed's debut at the 147th Westminster Kennel Club Dog show, Tuesday, May 9, 2023, in New York. A dog named Lepshi, third from left, co-owned by country music star Tim McGraw, won best in breed. (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)

(AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)

NEW YORK (AP) — A bracco Italiano named Lepshi won his breed’s debut at the United States’ most prestigious dog show. And dog lovers just might not be the only audience that won’t forget something like that.

Lepshi (prounouced LEEP’-she) happens to be co-owned by country music and “1883” series star Tim McGraw. But that distinction was just playing in the background of a chorus of cheers as Lepshi and eight other examples of his handsome Italian hunting breed took their turns in the ring Tuesday at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

“He’s a wonderful ambassador for the breed,” handler Ryan Wolfe said after the 6-year-old’s win. Lepshi aces the breed’s trademark ground-covering trot, Wolfe explained, and “he loves everybody.”

McGraw, known for hits including “Something Like That,” and his wife, country luminary and “1883” co-star Faith Hill, have had a number of bracchi at home and featured them in social media posts. In one 2020 video, a bracco howls along as one of the couple’s daughters sings some high notes.

“Stromboli is happy that Maggie is home from college!!!!!” McGraw wrote at the time. A message was sent Tuesday to a representative for him about Lepshi’s groundbreaking Westminster win.

Wolfe, who handles the dog for McGraw and co-owners Kristi Libertore, Tony Libertore and Jenell Tonini-Zanotto, said it was “an honor to be first.”

The bracco ( pronounced BRAH’-koh) has an ancient heritage in Europe. It became eligible to compete at Westminster this year after getting recognized by the American Kennel Club, which is the nation’s oldest dog registry and acts akin to a league for many U.S. dog shows. Recognition is voluntary and entails inking an agreed-upon standard for the dogs and various other criteria.

AKC recognition can increase everyday recognition, which has some bracco owners cautioning that would-be owners need to understand what the soulful-looking, amiable dogs require.

“We want these dogs hunting,” said Siva Aiken, whose bracco Tillie-rye Hogwallop — yes, she uses that whole name — was named the breed’s best female competitor Tuesday. (When a female wins, a male gets such an award.)

Bracchi can be easygoing at home, but only if they get enough activity, Aiken said. Tillie-rye Hogwallop, for instance, hunts quail, pheasant and other birds. She and Aikin’s other bracchi also roam two to six miles a day (three to 9.5 km) a day at a nature preserve near Aiken’s home in Aiken, South Carolina.

“It’s not a breed for everyone,” she said. “This breed needs to be worked.”


New York-based Associated Press journalist Jennifer Peltz has covered the Westminster dog show since 2013.


Associated Press

This school reopened quickly after COVID. Kids’ reading was still behind

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — Students spread out in their rural Kansas classroom, answering questions with a partner about invaders atop elephants attempting to sack Rome more than 2,000 years ago. “Do you want to read?” one of the third graders, Parker, asked his partner after the lesson on the Punic Wars. “Because I’m not really […]

24 hours ago

U.S. Army veteran Ed Reichbach, 93, left, greets Vietnam veteran Fred Kalfon, 81, after Kalfon's wo...

Associated Press

Florida center says ‘Grey Team’ technology, exercise help veterans overcome PTSD and other ailments

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Before Fred Kalfon began exercising at the Grey Team veterans center a couple months ago, the 81-year-old rarely left his Florida home. Parkinson’s disease, an inner ear disorder and other neurological problems, all likely caused by the Vietnam vet’s exposure to the infamous defoliant Agent Orange, made it difficult for […]

24 hours ago

Writer/director Chelsea Peretti poses for a portrait to promote the film "First Time Female Directo...

Associated Press

Chelsea Peretti on her directorial debut ‘First Time Female Director,’ premiering at Tribeca

NEW YORK (AP) — Chelsea Peretti plays a first-time director in her directorial debut: “First Time Female Director.” The film premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival takes an acutely meta premise in lampooning the tumultuous experience of an inexperienced woman brought in to a direct a play at a small, local theater in Glendale, California, […]

24 hours ago

Associated Press

Delayed justice: 3 states remove all time limits on child sex abuse lawsuits

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Ann Allen loved going to church and the after-school social group led by a dynamic priest back in the 1960s. The giggling fun with friends always ended with a game of hide and seek. Each week, the Rev. Lawrence Sabatino chose one girl to hide with him. Allen said when it […]

2 days ago

Anna Delvey, also known as Anna Sorokin, poses at her apartment in New York on May 26, 2023, to pro...

Associated Press

Under house arrest, fake heiress Anna ‘Delvey’ Sorokin launches podcast to rehab public image

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s a weekday morning and Anna Sorokin is on house arrest in a New York apartment building that has been condemned as imminently perilous to life. So she’s attempting to capture outside attention and relieving her boredom in the most quotidian way: starting a podcast. “So many people became famous for […]

2 days ago

This May 2020 photo shows Tracy Smith in Tulsa, Okla. Smith has been using the mating site Modamily...

Associated Press

Platonic co-parenting offers an alternate model for family building

NEW YORK (AP) — Nick Farrow wanted what a lot of people do: a child, and a parenting partner. At 45, after a long-term romance didn’t work out, he decided to take matters into his own hands, entering into a platonic open arrangement that has flourished for nine years, since daughter Milly was born. Whether […]

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Dog co-owned by country’s Tim McGraw wins new breed at show