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New York, NY — The American Kennel Club® (AKC®) has recognized seven breeding programs from the Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups as 2015 AKC Breeder of the Year group honorees.

“The individuals that make up these breeding programs have dedicated their lives to the advancement of the purebred dog, producing dogs that are true to their breeds in appearance, ability and temperament,” said Dennis Sprung, AKC President and CEO. “We congratulate them on their accomplishments and look forward to honoring these breeders at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.”

The 2015 AKC Breeder of the Year will be announced Sunday, December 13, 2015 in Orlando, Florida at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. 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: Janet Bunce, Wochica Golden Retrievers

Over 50 years ago, Wochica Golden Retrievers began under the watchful eye of Janet Bunce. Bunce focused on producing sound dogs with broad chests, spring of rib, good toplines, beautiful heads, smiling faces, straight tails, steady gait, and solid composition. Over 70 Wochica Golden Retrievers have earned titles in conformation, obedience, and field trials. Her aim was a Golden Retriever that could work in the field followed by the show ring or vice versa.

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Hound Group: Jay T. Hafford and James P. Blanchard, Thaon Reg. Afghan Hounds

Thaon Reg. Afghan Hounds have won the breed’s National Specialty show a total of seven times, making Thaon the top national specialty–winning Afghan Hound kennel in breed history. Hafford and Blanchard have bred or owned many Specialty Best in Show winners and have amassed well over 100 Specialty Best in Show wins. They have bred or owned seven all-breed Best in Show winners who have won more than 50 all-breed Bests in Show.

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Working Group: Sylvia Hammarstrom, Skansen Giant Schnauzers

Sylvia Hammarstrom began her U.S. Giant Schnauzer and Standard Schnauzer breeding programs in 1963. In her native Sweden, she had already bred several Standard Schnauzer champions by the time she was 10 years old. In the 52 years since attending her first AKC show she has bred more than 1,200 champions and earned more than 500 Best in Show awards. Hammarstrom has achieved unprecedented international success in the conformation ring, but she is equally proud of putting more than 100 obedience titles on her dogs.

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Terrier Group: Lydia Coleman Hutchinson, Wolfpit Cairn Terriers

Lydia Coleman Hutchinson is a second-generation dog fancier who attended her first dog show with her parents in 1949. Her family-owned Wolfpit Kennel has accounted for over 250 Cairn Terrier champions, including numerous top winners and producers. The first Wolfpit litter was born in 1941 and the most recent in May 2015.

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Toy Group: Arlene A. Czech, Coquina Papillons

Arlene A. Czech began in Papillons in 1955. In a breeding program limited by the demands of her career as teacher of high-school students with learning disabilities, Czech has bred and shown 44 champions and 44 performance-titled dogs. Her first male earned his UD title at the 1964 Papillon National and in doing so became the year’s top Papillon in obedience. She also had the first Papillon to win a Mexican championship. In the years since, dogs of her breeding have won several of the parent club’s Versatility awards.

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Non-Sporting Group: Kathie Vogel, Vogelflight Bichons Frises

Kathie Vogel began in Bichons in the 1960s, before the breed was recognized by the AKC. When the Bichon Frise became an AKC breed in 1973, a homebred Vogelflight dog became the first AKC-pointed dog of the breed, awarded by Edd Bivin. Another homebred won BOB at the breed’s first three National Specialties. At National Specialties since, Vogelflight has won numerous Breeds, Winners Dog, Winners Bitch (retiring the challenge trophy), Best Bred-by, and Best in Sweeps. Vogelflight was co-breeder and -owner of the Non-Sporting Group winner at the 2013 Westminster show and the 2012 Non-Sporting Winkie Award recipient.

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Herding Group: John Buddie, Tartanside Collies

John Buddie began in dogs in 1963. By 1971 he was an AKC-licensed professional handler who campaigned many influential Collies. Tartanside Collies has breeder-owned over 150 champions, including 12 Register of Merit dogs, and overall Tartanside sires and dams have produced 350 champions. Among them have been multiple group, Best in Show, and National Specialty winners. Tartanside stock is the foundation for many of today’s top kennels.

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Learn more about the award and past honorees.

The American Kennel Club® (AKC®) has recognized seven breeding programs from the Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups as 2015 AKC Breeder of the Year group honorees.