Search Menu

–Award Presented at AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin –

Gail S. Wolaniuk and Joan E. McFadden were presented with the 2020 AKC Breeder of the Year award for Unique Standard Poodles at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin on Sunday, December 13, 2020.  The annual award honors those breeders who have made an impact on their breed and dedicate their lives to improving the health, temperament and quality of purebred dogs.

“We are thrilled to honor Gail S. Wolaniuk and Joan E. McFadden with the 2020 AKC Breeder of the Year award,” said Dennis B. Sprung, AKC President and CEO. “The Unique Standard Poodles prefix has been associated with top quality Standard Poodles in the United States and their influence on the breed will be seen for many more years to come.”

One honoree is chosen from each of the seven groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. From those seven, one Group winner is selected as “AKC Breeder of the Year” during the AKC National Championship, which was held this year in Orlando, FL on December 12th and 13th.  Presentation highlights are available on

As the 2020 AKC Breeder of the Year recipient, Gail S. Wolaniuk and Joan E. McFadden will be honored with a commission from a canine portraitist to memorialize a prominent dog from their breeding program and their names will be inscribed on a perpetual trophy, both of which will be displayed at the AKC headquarters in New York City.

About Unique Standard Poodles

Unique Standard Poodles began in 1980 with the combined effort and passion of Joan McFadden and Gail Wolaniuk. They both have been long time members of the AKC Breeder of Merit program.  Joan has been a member of the Poodle Club of America (PCA) for over 20 years, holding various positions and Board Membership.  She was presented The Good Sportsman’s Award at the National in 2018. She has also been past President and Board Member of her local all-breed club the Delaware County Kennel Club.

Gail is a second-generation dog show enthusiast. Her parents successfully exhibited and bred Toy Poodles. Her father Frank was a professional handler and then an AKC judge. Gail also has been a member of PCA for 20 years and a member and served on the board of the Delaware County Kennel Club.

In the past 40 years they have established a strong family of healthy, happy, white standard Poodles.  Some of their accomplishments include 115 champions. Among the many top winners and top producers are six Best in Show dogs and seven Best in Specialty dogs, collectively winning 34 Bests. Unique Poodles are represented every year at the Westminster Kennel Club show, resulting in a Best of Variety and Group 2nd in 2001 with Ch. Unique Reach For The Rainbow along with 11 Best of Opposite or Award of Merit wins. Unique has also been represented every year at PCA National and Regional shows resulting in seven Winners Dogs or Bitches, 10 Select or Award of Merit, three Best Bred By Exhibitor in Show and one National Best of Variety.

Gail and Joan are equally proud of the many Performance titled dogs that have come from the Unique line.  Over 49 Agility and Obedience titles were achieved by both Joan and Gail and by many other Unique owners. Community services with Nursing Homes, Reading Programs and Therapy Work are also among their accomplishments.

All seven Group honorees were presented with medallions during the show on December 12, 2020.  Group winners included:

  • Sporting Group: Kristi Woods Libertore, Larry & Chris Delaney, Whiskeytown Wirehaired Pointing Griffons
  • Hound Group: John Woodring & Wade Burns, Lanbur Beagles
  • Working Group: Ray Cataldi, Rojon Great Danes
  • Terrier Group: Henry Sutliff, Sutliff Sealyhams
  • Toy Group: Daryl Martin, Puff Maltese
  • Non-Sporting Group: Gail S. Wolaniuk and Joan E. McFadden, Unique Standard Poodles
  • Herding Group: Thomas (Tim) Mathiesen, Nebriowa Corgis

The second annual posthumous Breeder of the Year was awarded to Samuel Evans Ewing, III. Sam Ewing was devoted to the Irish Wolfhound Breed. Sam acquired his first Irish Wolfhound in 1953 to serve as his companion while attending law school at Princeton University. His father was his landlord and didn’t approve of dogs in the house so he began his search for a breed that could live in an unheated garage and didn’t need much grooming. He chose the Irish Wolfhound and so began 50 plus years of endearing dedication to the breed. Sam bred, and primarily handled himself, 347 Champion Irish Wolfhounds, including the top AKC BIS winning dog and bitch of all times. An additional 20 Eagle dogs have earned suffix titles. Sam referred to himself as an “enthusiastic competitor.”

Sam served as the Delegate for the Irish Wolfhound Club of America from 1987 until his death in 2004, as well as having served as President. Over the years he was member of multiple all breed clubs and Specialty clubs including  having served as President of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr Kennel Club, Chester Valley Kennel Club, Penn Treaty Kennel Club, the Delaware Valley Irish Wolfhound Club, Potomac Valley Irish Wolfhound Club and others. He was on the Board of the Museum of the Dog. In addition to Irish Wolfhounds, Sam also bred Champion Border Terriers and Irish Setters.

By profession, Sam was admitted to the bar in Pennsylvania in 1956, practicing in a small country office until his retirement in 1998.