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Luke and Diane Ehricht were presented with the 2023 AKC Breeder of the Year award for Hallmark Jolei Shih Tzu at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin on Saturday, December 16, 2023.  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 proud to honor Luke and Diane Ehricht with the 2023 AKC Breeder of the Year award,” said Dennis B. Sprung, AKC President and CEO. “The Hallmark Jolei Shih Tzu prefix has been associated with top quality, healthy Shih Tzus in the United States and their impact 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 16th and 17th.  Presentation highlights are available on

As the 2023 AKC Breeder of the Year recipient, Luke and Diane 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 Hallmark Jolei Shih Tzu

Diane and Luke Ehricht have been involved in Shih Tzu since 1973. Both are Members of The American Shih Tzu Club, and have been board members. They are proud AKC Breeders of Merit.

Hallmark Jolei has produced more than 200 AKC Champions, obedience and performance-titled dogs, as well as therapy dogs. Diane and Luke have produced 14 All Breed Best in Show winners with a combined total of 269 All Breed Bests in Show between them. They have also produced 16 National Specialty Best of Breed winners and more than 100 specialty winners. Their breeding has been ranked Number One in the breed for 21 years. The top winning Shih Tzu of all time is Ch Hallmark Jolei Raggedy Andy, winner of 84 All Breed Bests in Show and three National Specialties. Andy was the Number Two Dog of All Breeds in 2002. Hallmark Jolei has produced Westminster Group winners and their dogs have been ranked Number One Toy dog in the country four times.

Diane has been honored to judge sweepstakes at their National twice and Luke had the honor to judge the National Specialty in 2019.

Shih Tzu have been their life’s passion, and they are honored to be selected as Toy Breeder of the Year for the second time by the American Kennel Club.

Group winners included:

  • Sporting Group: Dorothy Cherry, Cerise Kennel English Springer Spaniels
  • Hound Group: Harry and Lisa Miller, Kiarry American Foxhounds
  • Working Group: Amy Kiell-Green and Andrew Green, Pebbles’ Run Samoyeds
  • Terrier Group: Keith Bailey, Bayleigh Welsh Terriers
  • Toy Group: Luke and Diane Ehricht, Hallmark Jolei Shih Tzu
  • Non-Sporting Group: Lorrie Carlton & Larry Letsche DVM, Belle Creek Bichons
  • Herding Group: Cynthia and Vincent Savioli, Aubrey Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis

The fifth annual posthumous Breeder of the Year was awarded to Phyllis and Daniel Hamilburg of Salgray Boxers for their devotion to the breed. The Hamilburgs bred countless Champions and their Boxers were known for their outstanding temperament. Salgray Boxers took the country by storm, and their legacy continues today.

For more information on all the AKC Breeder of the Year Group honorees, click here.