An 'English' Victory at the Garden
This year marked the sixth time that an English Springer Spaniel won Best in Show at Westminster, making it by far the most successful breed at America's top dog show for at least the past half century. In spite of its name, the Springer Spaniel as we know it in the U.S. today is a very American creation, far more glamorous and eye-catching than its British counterpart. Some fanciers feel that the American type now differs so much from its British ancestor that it ought to be given separate breed status, as was done when the Cocker Spaniel was separated from its English ancestor in the past. Be that as it may, there's no question that the best American Springers are wonderful show dogs, and it's surprise that the best ones appeal to so many of our top judges.
This year's winner is in every respect a worthy descendant of a long line of succesful American Springer Spaniels. Ch. Felicity's Diamond Jim ('James') got his call name in honor of the last dog to win Westminster twice, Ch. Chinoe's Adamant James (BIS 1971 and 1972), and he descends many times over from that dog's sire, the great Ch. Salilyn's Aristocrat, Top Dog of all breeds in 1967 and the sire of more AKC champions than any other dog -- 188 in all.
James is 6 1/2 years old now. He started winning big in 2005, when he was Number 2 Sporting Dog. In 2006 he did even better, won 34 BIS and 121 Group Firsts, ranking as Number 2 Top Dog of all breeds. James has won some of the top all-breed events -- Westchester, Del Valle, the AKC/Eukanuba National show -- as well as his breed's National Specialty under expert judge Houston Clark. He rated James as "one of the very best English Springer Spaniels" he had ever had hsi hands on -- "if not the best." Mr. Clark should know; he showed many top Springers in the past.
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