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The American Kennel Club® (AKC®) is pleased to recognize breeding programs from the Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups as 2016 AKC Breeder of the Year group honorees.

“We are proud to honor some of the nation’s finest breeders with this award,” said Dennis Sprung, AKC President and CEO. “The dogs that carry the honorees’ kennel names have proven their breeders’ commitment to excellence, consistency, function and type, and represent important contributions to the sport of purebred dogs.”

The 2016 AKC Breeder of the Year will be revealed on Friday, December 16 in Orlando, Florida at the Royal Canin “Regalia,” a royal celebration of those who champion purebred dogs, and also announced during the broadcast of the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin on Saturday evening, December 17, 2016.

A canine portraitist will be commissioned to commemorate a prominent dog from the Breeder of the Year’s kennel, and their name will be added to the perpetual trophy and plaque on permanent display at the AKC headquarters in New York City. All group recipients will receive a medallion in recognition of their achievements.

The group winners are:


Sporting Group: Dorothea (Dot) Vooris Simberlund, Fieldfine German Shorthaired Pointers

Dorothea (Dot) Vooris Simberlund’s love affair with German Shorthaired Pointers began in the mid-1960s with the founding of Fieldfine. The Fieldfine program has produced more than 250 champions, top 10 winners, national specialty winners, top 20 dogs, national sweepstakes winners, futurity winners, multiple Best in Show dogs, and numerous top-producing sires and dams. Fieldfine has become a family affair, with five children, and now grandchildren, involved in the breed.


Hound Group: Ray and Jana Brinlee, Jaraluv Scottish Deerhounds

The Jaraluv breeding program has produced 14 litters over a 36 year span. Out of the 104 dogs Ray and Jana have bred or owned, 70 became AKC champions, 45 placed in the group, 28 won Hound groups, and 10 different dogs have won a total of 45 Bests in Show. Jaraluv has also produced the top all-breed Best in Show-winning male and female Scottish Deerhounds of all time.


Working Group: Alan Kalter & Chris Lezotte, HappyLegs Bullmastiffs

Chris and Alan have bred or owned 160 titleholders; these include specialty winners, Best in Show winners, Westminster winners, top producers and five generations of group winners. But as they wind down their breeding program after 30 years in the sport, they hope to be remembered not for their dogs’ accomplishments, but for their efforts to incorporate soundness, structure, and “happy legs” into the Bullmastiff breed for generations to come.


Terrier Group: Joan Huber, Blythewood Miniature Schnauzers

Blythewood Miniature Schnauzers has produced more than 850 AKC champions, including all-breed and specialty Best in Show winners. Joan believes that the great dog breeders of the past have contributed greatly to her education about the Miniature Schnauzer. Joan has also enjoyed mentoring many new fanciers who will continue breeding. In 2018, Joan will judge at Montgomery County, an honor that was voted on by the members of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club.


Toy Group: Max E. Hurd, Hurd’s Chihuahuas

Max and his late wife, Marie, purchased their first pet Chihuahua in February 1957. Soon after, a foundation bitch was added, then a show prospect male. This was the beginning of “Hurd’s Chihuahua Herd.” Since then, the total number of Hurd AKC champions has reached more than 250 dogs. His most notable Chihuahua is all-breed Best in Show winner CH Hurd’s Honey Bee, the top winning Chihuahua in 1969 and 1970.


Non-Sporting Group: Susan and Gary Carr, Salishan Tibetan Terriers

Susan and Gary Carr’s life’s work in the fancy is their Salishan Tibetan Terriers. Gary passed away this year on March 11th, but he will always remain a part of the breeding program. The Carrs obtained their first Tibetan Terrier in 1975 and have owned number one ranked dogs, Best in Show and national specialty winners, and international champions. They have bred more than 300 Tibetan Terrier champions, including Group, Best in Show and sweepstakes winners; a World winner; and performance title holders.


Herding Group: Terry Miller and Dominique Dube, Deja Vu/Popsakadoo Briards

Terry and Dominique met in 1985 when they each bought bitches from the same breeder in Pennsylvania. Their visions and direction differed slightly over the years until they joined forces in 2008 to form Deja Vu/Popsakadoo. In that eight years they have won Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex at national specialties two times each, gone Winners Bitch at four national specialties, have owned two top ten Herding group dogs who were also each national specialty winners, enjoyed multiple Best In Show dogs, and owned the number one Briard all systems.


For full-length recipient bios and more information about the award, visit the Breeder of the Year page.

The 2016 AKC Breeder of the Year will be revealed December 16 at the Royal Canin “Regalia,” a royal celebration of those who champion purebred dogs, and also announced during the broadcast of the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin on December 17, 2016.