Standard Poodle Ch. Nunsoe Duc de la Terrace of Blakeen

Standard Poodles had been around for many years without attracting much notice in the show ring, but suddenly, in 1932 two leaped to the forefront. One of them was "The Duke."

Standard Poodles had been around for many years without attracting much notice in the show ring, but suddenly, in 1932 two leaped to the forefront. One of them was "The Duke."

Bonus content from “The First Best in Show Winners,” appearing in the April 2016 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine, or call 1-888-738-2665 to purchase a single copy.

 

One breed that began to hit the high spots in the ’30s was the Poodle. They had been around for many years without attracting much notice other than as a curiosity. Suddenly, in 1932 two Standard Poodles leaped to the forefront. (For another decade or so, it would always be Standards, never Miniatures or Toys.)

Both dogs won multiple Best in Shows that year and both were owned by Hayes Blake Hoyt, whose Blakeen kennel must be considered one of the most successful ever in America, regardless of breed. For another 20 years Blakeen, located in Katonah, N.Y., continued to produce top Poodle contenders in all-breed competition, later also in Miniatures and Toys. It is doubtful if any kennel did more than Blakeen for the great popularity that the Poodle experienced — and is still enjoying — both as a family pet and as a show dog.

The lesser known of the two 1934 winners was Ch. Harpendale Monty of Blakeen, a black English import, who was later sold to Mrs. Robert Dawson (a “charming sportswoman and socialite,” according to the dog press) and continued winning on the West Coast. It was another of Mrs. Hoyt’s imports, the ice-white Ch. Nunsoe Duc de la Terrace of Blakeen, that had unprecedented importance for the future. He had been born in Switzerland but moved to America from Jane Lane’s Nunsoe kennels in England, where “the Duke” had already made a name for himself.

The story of how Duc came to Blakeen is worth recounting. Mrs. Hoyt’s mother was going to England and asked her daughter if she would like something from over there. Mrs. Hoyt was just getting started in dogs and had heard talk about “the best Poodle in the world,” but when her mother tried to buy him she was turned down: the Duke was not for sale. Undeterred, and eager to procure only the best for her daughter, the American visitor asked what price might convince his owner to part with Duc; Miss Lane mentioned an “astronomical” sum that she was sure would deter any potential buyer… but a check arrived in the mail forthwith, and Duc sailed to his new home in America. (Reportedly, Duc’s purchase price would equal approximately $100,000 today.)

In early 1934 Duc made his American debut by winning the Group at Westminster from the classes. After completing his AKC title and winning several all-breed BIS, Duc repeated the Westminster Group win in 1935, now with Best in Show as well. It was the first time that a Poodle won Westminster and the acclaim was unanimous. According to those who saw him, nothing like Duc had ever been seen in the American show rings. He must have been special, because reportedly shown only 18 times in the US, he won all 18 BOB, 16 Groups and 9 Best in Shows. Nor was he the only top Poodle that was brought in from the European continent. In 1935 another white, Ch. Edelweiss du Labory of Salmagundi, also born in Switzerland, won 7 BIS and was one of the top dogs of all breeds. (The Salmagundi kennels, owned by the Griess family, was also active in Whippets and Greyhounds, but it was Poodles that were their primary interest.)

Duke’s legacy was carried on by two of his children: Ch. Blakeen Eiger and Ch. Blakeen Jung Frau both won the Group at Westminster, and both won even more BIS than their sire — Jung Frau at least twice as many, including BIS at Morris & Essex in 1940. In 1938 alone she took home at least 14 all-breed BIS, something that in an ordinary year would have been more than enough to make her Top Dog; that year, she had to be content with a runner-up position after the amazing Smooth Fox Terrier, Saddler.

 

Bonus content from “The First Best in Show Winners,” appearing in the April 2016 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine, or call 1-888-738-2665 to purchase a single copy.

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