W.S. Hunt and his Ottershaw Kennel

These days, hardly anyone knows the name of the pre-war Ottershaw Kennels. It was origininally established in 1915 and was based on ‘Normanby Balfour’ from the mating of ‘Culham Brass’ and ‘Normanby Beauty.’ Owner of this kennel was William Stanley Hunt. Among his first dogs were Ottershaw Bella (Normanby Balfour x Columbine), Ottershaw Blush (idem), Ottershaw Sample and Ottershaw Sovereign. It seems, he choosed names beginning with a ‘B’ for his own-bred dogs , but for the dogs he bought initially names with an ‘S’. During or after the First World War he moved to Ottershaw, to pursue his dog breeding further.

He was also a famous dog judge. In the Australian newspaper The Argus of 19th septembre 1933, W.S. Hunt is said to have arrived in order to judge in Melbourne. (The small photo comes from this article. Apologies for the poor quality). He was an all-breed judge. The article mentions that he had, at that time, about 100 dogs, spaniels (Cocker) and retrievers (Labrador and Golden). He exported some dogs to America during the 1930s. Clearly, for Hunt dog breeding was business. It was not his only business, though. He was an ambitious man, being the first person in the village to own a car. He set up a number of transport businesses with taxis and coaches. His business must have been very succesfull. Today, W.S. Hunt’s is still a family owned business in Ottershaw.

So far, I haven’t been able to trace pictures of the Ottershaw dogs. Moreover, the Ottershaw kennel seems not to have been very successful at shows like Cruft’s. My guess is that the success of W.S. Hunt’s breeding activities was more quantitative then gualitative. Nevertheless, being a big pre-war kennel, the Ottershaw kennel is worth mentioning here!


The Aldgrove kennel of Dr. Wilshaw and Miss Mottram

The Aldgrove kennel is not one of the most famous pre-War kennels. However, its history is worth telling. The kennel was founded and led by Dr. T.R. Wilshaw and his sister-in-law Miss E.L. Mottram. In 1918 Dr. Wilshaw came from Melsonby to become the Doctor of Aldbrough St. John (Yorkshire). He happened to be a very good billiards player, but the breeding of Golden Retrievers would soon become succesful as well.

When did they start? K9data.com provides us with a list of Aldgrove dogs. The oldest of them is Rorina of Aldgrove < Rorina (12/29/1924; Rory of Bentley x Mouse). It was bred by Mr. P.H. Palmer; first owned by Mr. Jenner, then by Dr. Wilshaw. [“Rovina of Aldgrove” (Rory of Bunting (=Bentley) x Mouse) as listed in the K9data is almost certain the same dog as Rorina.]  In May 1927 Golden Goblet was born (5/12/1927; Scotch Laddie x Rorina of Aldgrove). So, we can establish with certainty that Dr. Wilshaw and Miss Mottram started their kennel in 1925 or (probably) 1926.

Another interesting name in the list of the Aldgrove dogs is the name of Goldrock of Aldgrove (Goldrock of Aldbro). This dog was born in 1927 and bred by Mrs. J. Cottingham (Woolley). The double naming is interesting, because it suggests that Dr. Wilshaw and Miss Mottram orinigally opted for ‘Aldbro’ as name of their kennel. They seem to have changed their minds however, pretty soon afterwards.

In 1931 the Aldgrove-kennel is for the first time mentioned in the catalogue of Crufts, with two dogs: Kelso of Aldgrove (06/26/1929; Ch. Michael of Moreton x Sh.Ch. Speedwell Emerald) and Goldgleam of Aldgrove (03/30/1930; Ch. Diver of Woolley x Sh.Ch. Sewardstone Tess). Both were breeded by other breeders: Kelso with Mrs. Evers-Swindells (Speedwell) and Goldgleam with Mr. Jenner (Abbotts). So, we may conclude that Dr. Wilshaw and Miss Mottram hoped for a quality impulse. They wouldn’t have been disappointed.

Kelso of Aldgrove was very succesful. He became a Champion in October, 1931, at the early age of two years and and four months: at that moment the youngest Dog Champion of the breed. He won the Golden Certificate at Cruft’s in 1932, but he won also some field trials. Goldgleam of Aldgrove became English Champion and the same happened with Golddawn of Aldgrove, their first own-bred Champion (11/11/1930; Ch. Kelso of Aldgrove x Ch. Goldgleam of Aldgrove).

However, it seems that their activity soon diminished. The database provides us with birthdates up till 1936 (Honey of Aldgrove). That year appears to be the last year they were active at Crufts. So the story of the Aldgrove kennel was pretty short, but flourishing. Watch these pretty dogs.

Pre-war Golden Retrievers at Crufts

In this post I will list the Golden Retriever pre-War winners at Crufts. The sources of these data are  the catalogues at the website of the Kennel Club (UK). First I’ll mention the dogs, then the bitches. The best of the breed in a particular year are underlined.

1922 – Ch. Balcombe Boy
1923 – Ch. Cornelius
1924 – Shortsville Shadow
1925 – Ch. Haulstone Dan
1926 – Ch. Haulstone Dan
1927 – Ch. Cubbington Diver*
1928 – Rip of Kentford
1929 – Michael of Moreton
1930 – Ch. Diver of Woolley
1931 – Ch. Michael of Moreton
1932 – Ch. Kelso of Aldgrove
1933 – Ch. Michael of Moreton
1934 – Ch. Donkelve Jester
1935 – Colthill Dan*
1936 – Ch. Davie of Yelme
1937 – Heydown Gilpin
1938 – Chief of Yelme
1939 – Ch. Abbots Trust

1922 – Noranby Daydawn
1923 – Margaretting Dinah
1924 – Noranby Daydawn
1925 – Noranby Daydawn
1926 – Kib of Kentford
1927 – Ch. Vic of Woolley
1928 – Mascot of Kentford
1929 – Speedwell Emerald
1930 – Merry Rose of Woolley
1931 – Vanda of Woolley
1932 – Ch. Speedwell Beryl
1933 – Ch. Noranby Diana
1934 – Colthill Delia*
1935 – Colthill Delia
1936 – Ch. Abbots Daisy
1937 – Ch. Dukeries Dancing Lady
1938 – Ch. Noranby Diana
1939 – Ch. Torrdale Betty*

Influential Golden Retrievers and health problems

It’s almost a year ago that our own Golden Retriever died. He was 8 years old at the time, and suffered from epilepsy. His death however was due to a acute paralysis of the oesophagus. I was aware of health problems with Golden Retrievers before, but these facts made me much more alert. One of the factors that damage the health of Golden Retrievers is the enormous inbreeding of the race. In the case of epilepsy, there is certainly a genetic component.

The K9data website has the tool to calculate the inbreeding-factor (COI) over 10 or even 12 generations. I found Goldens with more than 30%, even 40% COI! And a figure of above 10% is very common. Especially, big breeders don’t seem to be aware of the risks of inbreeding. They call it ‘linebreeding’, but the principle is exactly the same as inbreeding.  They argue that they want to keep the special properties of the so called ‘matadors’ of the race. But the result is an immense danger of passing on all kinds of health problems.

It’s interesting to note which Goldens are most dominant in the ‘gene pool’. It appears to be different for show dogs and work dogs. Here comes my estimation, based on a couple of test samples. As far as I can see, the four most influential Goldens for the contemporary showline are:

  • Eng. Ch. Camrose Cabus Christopher
  • Eng. Ch. Camrose Talleyrand of Anbria
  • Eng/Ir. Ch. Cabus Cadet JW
  • Sansue Castalian KCJW SGWC

It must be said that the first two Camrose Goldens are at behind almost every showline Golden today. The gene pool is quite different for the working Goldens (as the pictures nicely demonstrate: light vs. dark; heavily feathered vs. lightly feathered; etc.).  However, in this line there are Goldens that dominate the gene pool as well:

  • Eng. FT.Ch. Rossmhor of Clancallum
  • AFC Holway Barty OS
  • Eng. FT.Ch. Standerwick Rumbustuous of Catcombe
  • Eng. FT.Ch. Mazurka of Wynford

As far as I can see, the problem of inbreeding is as big in the working lines, as it is in the show lines. At any rate, I know of epilepsy, for example, in both lines. It’s extremely difficult to bypass these genetic problems, because almost all Goldens go back on the same ancestors. The genetic material of other dogs virtually got lost, because almost no one bred with these dogs.

There are, of course, exceptions: kennels working with very low COI-rates. To be sure, that is no guarantee for avoiding health problems. But it’s my conviction that it certainly will contribute! These kennels are rather small, but in my view the most promising! In the quest for another Golden it is at any rate one of my criteria.

Stubbings Golden Retrievers

The Stubbings-kennel of Mrs. Alison Nancy Nairn was one of the largest Golden Retriever kennels in the period before and shortly after W.O.II. The K9-database shows us more than 110 dogs with the kennel’s prefix. But what do we know about Mrs. Nairn?

In contemporary catalogues and the like, she is said to live in Stubbings Vicarage, Littlewick Green 66, near Maidenhead (Berkshire, UK). That must mean she was married to a vicar. And indeed, from 1927 till 1953, Rev. Dr. John Arbuthnot Nairn was the vicar of St. James the Less at Stubbings and chaplain of St. Mark’s hospital church. Rev. Nairn was born in 1874. He was a classical Greek and Latin scholar and had a Litt.D from both Cambridge and Oxford. He died in 1956. Interestingly, he is mentioned in the 1930 edition of The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Archaeological Journal (from the Berkshire Archaeological Society), together with his daughter, Miss S.Nairn. This daughter, Sylvia Nairn, later: Mrs. Sylvia Winston, took the kennel over from her mother, shortly after the War.

But back to the dogs at Stubbings now. The first Golden Retriever of the kennel appears to be Eng.Ch. Birling James of Somersby (b.1926), bred by Mr. G. Cuff. Change in registration with the Kennel Club is dated May 1927. So, it seems, this was the moment she started with her kennel at Stubbings. Remember the fact, that she lived there since 1927. These data seem to fit with each other, at least.  The first bitch of the kennel appears to be Stubbings Golden Belle, born at the 13th of Octobre, 1928 (General Mountclogg x Mountclogg Flirt). Mrs. Nairn bought her from Mrs. M. B. Edwards (Mountclogg Kennels), probably in February 1929. She bought two other bitches in 1930: Stubbings Lorelei and Stubbings Golden Tassie, born in Septembre 1929. Both were bred by Mr. R.H. Keene. The first offspring of these bitches seem to have been born in 1931. Stubbings Golden Lass and Towerpride are said to be born on the first of January 1931 (Eng.Ch. Haulstone Dusty x Stubbings Golden Tassie). One month later (17th of February), there was the birth of five puppies: Stubbings Golden Peregrine, Stubbings Golden Daydream, Stubbings Goldwinner, Stubbings Goldstick and Eng.Ch. Stubbings Golden Gloria.

She was succesfull with her Goldens both at shows and at fieldtrials, although she didn’t produce a lot of Champions. Besides Eng.Ch. Stubbings Golden Gloria I know only of Am.Ch. Stubbings Golden Anubis, born in 1947. At that time, Mrs. Nairn had handed over the kennel to her daughter. Mrs. Sylvia Winston became president of the British Golden Retriever Club (GRC).  


P.S. The picture shows FTW Stubbings Golden Jerkin (b.1932). See for more pics of him: http://www.all-about-retriever.de/html/retriever.html

Eng. CH. Reine of Woolley

She was not a pioneer in breeding Golden Retrievers. However, the start of her kennel was as early as 1922. Her name was mrs. Jacqueline Cottingham. To start with, she bought a bitch of Lt.-Col. Dick Carnegie, which she named ‘Beauty of Woolley’. This bitch was a full sister of Ch. Heydown Gunner, a famous and succesful pre-war Golden. Subsequently, mrs. Cottingham purchased another bitch, from mrs. Grigg’s kennel, which she called ‘Diver of Woolley’. Money was obviously no problem for her plans, because in 1925 she once again paid a huge price, this time for a dog: Ch. Cubbington Diver, who fathered five champions. Cubbington Diver was a son of Ch. Heydown Gunner, by the way.

In that same year, she bought another young bitch, bred by mr. M.B. Edwards (Mountclog-kennel). This bitch was called ‘Reine of Woolley’. She was born out of Plover of Ryall x Brenda of Fyning in 1923. The original name of Reine of Woolley must have been (as we may believe the K9data information) Ray D’or Of Shaugh. How that may be, she appeared to be a huge succes, both in shows and in field trials. Reine won Cruft’s for example, but she must also have been very good in field trials. There is a story, which tells that a well-known authority on field trials, mr. A.J. Pattle, who originally trained Reine, said that her performance had convinced him to take Goldens himself.

There is at least one more interesting feature about the Woolley-kennel from mrs. Cottingham. I mean the various paintings from Reuben Ward Binks (1860-1950). He painted the dogs of mrs. Cottingham several times. They look remarkably well, I think.

A bit of Curly History

The Curly Coated Retriever is the oldest of the English Retrievers. It partly originates, like all Retrievers,  from the St. Johns dog, and also from the Tweed Water Spaniel. The Curly was first exhibited as a showdog in 1860, before, in 1864, the Kennel Club split the retrievers into the Retrievers-curly coated and Retrievers-wavy coated classes.The Curly has always been the “blue-collar” retriever, especially in its native home of England, where a Curly was more often owned by a gamekeeper or poacher than an aristocrat. Both gamekeepers and poachers needed reliable retrieving dogs, which under all circumstances could perform heavy work, and insisting that all day. They used to work alone, unlike other Retrievers. Besides, also unlike most Retrievers, except of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the Curly Coated Retriever is quite vigilant and less approachable towards strangers. Curly´s are strong dogs, not so very fast, but with impressive perseverance. The Curly was bred for the so-called ´rough shooting´. It was expected that he could independently locate and retrieve shot game. They were very popular during the early years and were on many of the large estates. The war years however and the introduction of the Labrador were factors that reduced enormously their popularity. In 1919 there were only 5 registrations left.

These days, the Curly Coat is the tallest of all Retrievers. However, look at the picture above. It´s from 1897. And compare this picture with this next photograph. This is a picture from CH ‘Snapehill Benjamin’ (1938). This latter Curly resembles the modern ones. The former seems to be quite a bit smaller. Is that a coïncidence or is it more than that? Could it be that the Curly has been bred purposefully in order to become taller?

But consider, finally, this picture of Mr. Darbey’s Champion Tiverton Beauty II here below. Mr. Samuël Darbey owned the Tiverton kennel, the most famous kennel around the turn of the age.  It seems nearly as big as Ch. Snapehill Benjamin. Nearly, not quite. So, I’m still inclined to believe that the Curly’s have become slightly taller in the pre-WOII years. Do you agree?