Famous Dog Pioneers: Betty Young

Learn about the contributions of dog breeder Betty Young of Cypress Woods Clumber Spaniels.

By | March 1, 2012

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Betty Young
Cypress Woods Clumber Spaniels

Betty Young

Betty Young judging Clumbers at the Naugatuck Valley KC in March 1988.
Photo Chuck Tatham.

Cypress Woods is synonymous with Clumber Spaniel excellence. Betty L. Young, known as “Bets,” created a type that set records and remains enduringly popular. “She was the first person to breed Clumber Spaniels that could win at the Group and Best in Show level,” says breeder Leslie Connell who was mentored by Bets. “She was a fierce competitor with a heart of gold. Bets played to win, but would give away her last dime to a friend in need.” She not only turned this obscure breed into a major player, she adeptly promoted Clumbers as versatile working dogs.

Bets acquired her first Clumbers in 1969, when the American Clumber population totaled about 300. Quality was uneven, but she had an eye for type and researched extensively before choosing her foundation dogs, Neal’s Double Bonus and Lady Chatterley. Bred by Neal and Karen Johnson, they traced back to British lines she most admired.

Double Bonus was a massive dog with outstanding showmanship. His ring debut at 10 months of age resulted in a Group I, and he became the first AKC Best in Show Clumber. Ch. Neal’s Lady Chatterley later produced Ch. Cypress Woods Dealers Choice who finished at 7 months with four Group placements from puppy class. His sister, Penny Ante, produced 10 champions.

Bets also imported top British stock to develop her line. The end result was a beautiful type now regarded as a classic in purebred dogs. Cypress Woods was celebrated for beautiful head type, soft expression, and light, clean coat color, a stark contrast to most Clumbers of the early '70s. “She came into the breed at a time when many Clumbers were ugly, spotted orange with outstanding faults like bad bites,” says Connell, who admits that presentation was also rather casual.

Bets had the resources to campaign her dogs thanks to her family’s immense San Francisco real estate holdings. She employed a top West Coast handler, Jo Shellenbarger, and professional presentation became another milestone for Clumbers. Jo’s first big transformation was to present every Cypress Woods Clumber freshly bathed and meticulously groomed.

Connell recalls a Santa Barbara, Calif., show with a small Clumber entry, except for a large 6-9 class of Cypress Woods puppies, every one shown by a top handler. Needless to say, Bets was hard to beat. Cypress Woods took breed and opposite at the 1980 Clumber national, and ultimately won six out of 13 nationals. She also bred four Best in Show winners: Dealers Choice, Dickens of Roma, Jackpot and Chesterfield.

“Until Doug came along, Chesterfield held the BIS record,” says Connell. “He was the best dog she bred.” Bets also co-owned several dogs, which helped many new breeders get started, The Connells Cameo line was one of 50 dog breeding programs founded on Cypress Woods stock. Cameo’s Trumpet, co-owned with Bets, became the first multiple BIS Clumber to earn CD, TD and JH titles.

 

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