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Editorial: December 2, 2022

Breeder of the Year

The American Kennel Club rewards our dogs in various and sundry categories, the amount of which is staggering, whether it’s in conformation, obedience, agility, rally, the field or others too numerous to mention.

But once a year, starting in 2002, the American Kennel Club has recognized those dogs’ “Breeders” who have supported, promoted and stayed true to their own visions and interpretation of their breed standards and have made an impact on their respective breeds in and out of the show ring. The recognition of these breeders is divided, with one breeder from each of the seven variety groups. The winners in the past, as now, are bold-face names in our sport. Among them is the first recipient in 2002, Wendell Sammet, joined by other winners through the years that included Mary Rodgers, Catherine Nelson, Dave and Peggy Helming, Douglas and Michaelanne Johnson, Barbara Miller, Joan Savage, Claudia Orlandi, Dionne Butt, Pluis Davern, Jim Smith, Winnie Stout, Gwen DeMilta and Carissa Shimpeno, John Buddie, Alan Kalter and Chris Lezotte, Helyne Mederios, Kent Boyle and Liz Oster, Elizabeth and Daniel Karshner, Gail Wolanuik and Joan McFadden, and David Fitzpatrick. 

Along with those of us still alive, for the last few years the American Kennel Club has started giving a Breeder of the Year award posthumously, starting with one of the great Afghan Hound breeders, Sunny Shay fame of Grandeur Kennels fame, followed by Samuel Evans Ewing III, Julia Gasow and Walter Goodman. Recognizing their achievements is in our opinion the highest praise the American Kennel Club gives to its core supporters of the sport. Their moment in the spotlight at the AKC National Championship dog show should be a major part of the presentations made in the Best in Show ring. They are singled out and applauded for their decades of dedication to their respective breeds, especially now in a climate of hostility toward breeders of purebred dogs thanks to the concerted efforts of PETA and other animal-rights groups. Contrary to their false agenda, we are not an elite group of wealthy people who parade our dogs around. We are a community of hard-working people who support our families and still find time to enjoy our dogs in a sport we love. While we don't consider this award a competition but rather recognition, the award should end on the group level and not a further selection of a single breeder over the others. Each and all seven are worthy of the title “Breeder of the Year” in their respective groups.

Dog News congratulations this year’s outstanding group of breeders for their years of dedication and wishes them continued success. It’s job well done, and enjoy the recognition you so richly deserve. 


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