San Joaquin Llewellins (SJL) is located in the San Joaquin Valley which is in the southern half of California's Great Valley south of Stockton. SJL is a cooperative group of breeders consisting of six dog owners and twelve dogs, six males and six females. Of the twelve dogs, three males and five females are currently breeding adult dogs which generate approximately two to three litters each year. Two additional males will be of breeding age in the summer of 2010
Scott Moore started SJL in 2000. Scott avidly hunts pheasant in the valley's farmlands, and chukar and quail in the surrounding foothills and mountains. The valley offers all types of crops, orchards, vineyards, and native habitats to hunt pheasant. The foothills adjacent to the valley range from open grass and sage habitats to habitats covered with black oak, pines, and manzanita, providing for great valley quail, mountain quail, and chukar hunting.
Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers were Scott's choice of hunting dogs for most of the years he's been living in the valley. He had some great spaniels and retrievers and many memorable hunts with these dogs. In 1999, after Scott lost his retriever, he decided to purchase a dog with genes specifically designed for upland game bird hunting. Scott wanted a dog with an instinctively good nose and ability to point and hold quail and pheasants. He also wanted the challenge of training a dog that he had never hunted over before and that was good with family and friends. After a good six months researching all types of upland game bird dogs, Scott decided on purchasing a Llewellin Setter. He had been warned by other hunters that long-haired hunting dogs were just too much trouble considering the type of habitat and the heat that exists in the valley. Other valley hunters had not even heard of a Llewellin Setter. Nevertheless, Scott purchased his first Llewellin (Murphy) from the Kings out of Enola, Arkansas in 2000. Murphy, a relatively large orange belton, has been rigorously hunting pheasants, chukars, and valley quail since 2000 and has turned into a great dog. He was easy to train and instinctively points and holds. Murphy also retrieves very well. As far as "long-haired hunting dogs being just too much trouble considering the type of habitat that exists in the valley", it just hasn't proven to be true. Murphy has adapted very well to the valley's conditions.
As a result of the successes Scott had with Murphy and his newly-found love for this breed of hunting dog, he purchased two more Llewellins (a male and a female) from the Dashwood Kennel in Belleville, Texas in 2001 and 2002. Abby (female) is a blue belton and Bowie (male) is a black and white. After her first year in the field, Abby's instinctive hunting talent absolutely shocked the friends Scott hunts with. She has a fantastic nose and points and holds with the best of them. During her first hunt, Abby pointed a chukar at a distance of about 20 feet and held rock-solid (no training). Abby continues to demonstrate her ability in the field in finding, pointing, and retrieving birds. At the Department of Fish and Game's 2006 Wheelchair Hunt, Abby backed another dog's point at a distance of over 30 yards. It was impressive. Bowie demonstrated a very good nose early on, finding birds long before other pups training in the field. On his first hunt, Bowie instinctively backed Murphy and Abby's point on a pheasant. As an adult now, Bowie masterfully locates and points birds. When Bowie points, you know there is a bird nearby and he won't move until you find and flush the bird. Bowie defines the phrase:"Always trust your bird dog." Bowie is now a prominent sire with SJL and has sired some great pups.
In August and September of 2004, two new dogs were added to SJL. Dancy, a chestnut female of the Bomber line, was purchased from Firecreek Kennels in Loris, South Carolina. Dancy, owned by Debbie Bates, is a very hot-hunting female Llewellin! Her abilities are incredible. She was born to hunt and frankly, she never stops. She started locating, pointing, and retrieving birds at a very young age. Dancy went on her first real hunts with older dogs when she was still only nine months old. On one occasion at nine months of age, everyone had come in from hunting, but Dancy was nowhere to be found. After a few minutes, Dancy showed up with a quail in her mouth, one that we couldn't find earlier. That wasn't enough though, Dancy went back into the field and retrieved another "lost bird" while we were all taking a break. Maggie, a tri-color female of the Bondhu line, was purchased from Chris Schwartz in Sacramento, California. Maggie, without a doubt, is one of the nicest looking Llewellins around. She is owned by Ron Holcomb. Maggie's sire is Murphy and she is the granddaughter of Henry Prince of Paws (AKA "Hank"). Maggie is a good-sized female, which is a plus for making long-distance retrieves on pheasants. She is locating, pointing, and holding well. In the fall of 2005, SJL added Bonnie. Bonnie is out of Murphy and Abby and is owned by Terry Fox. Bonnie is locating, pointing, and holding well and is demonstrating the skills passed on by Murph and Abby. In her first work over live birds, Bonnie located, pointed, and held well. Photos of Murphy, Abby, Bowie, Molly, Dancy, Maggie, Bonnie, Clyde, Max, and Rocky can be seen on the "In the Field" and/or "Sires and Dams" sections of this web site.
Breeding Llewellin Setters never figured into Scott's original plans when he purchased Murphy and Abby. His focus was primarily on hunting these dogs and then generating a litter of pups to replace Murphy and Abby as they got older. However, Scott's plans changed for several reasons. First, Llewellin Setter breeders in California are hard to find. Other hunters in California with interests in these dogs have expressed the same frustration. Like most hunters, they desire the opportunity to meet with the breeder and evaluate the pups and their sire and dam prior to a purchase. Secondly, the cost of shipping a pup from the Midwest, or the Eastern and Southern US to California, can create a potential "purchase barrier" for some. And, some airports are not equipped to receive pups or do not have carriers that transport the pups as Scott has experienced first hand. Lastly, and most importantly, Scott wanted his friends and other upland game bird hunters in the valley and surrounding areas to see Llewellin Setters apply their skills in the field and to be able to purchase a Llewellin Setter without the added hassles of shipping costs and travel. Scott also wants to provide the opportunity to potential purchasers in and around the valley to come and see the adult dogs and the pups before they make a decision. Since it's beginning, SJL has sold puppies to hunters in California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, Iowa, Washington, Utah and Hawaii.
It was Scott's introduction of Llewellin Setters to his friends that led to the cooperative group of breeders that exists today. SJL consists of Scott Moore, Debbi Mahnke, Ron Holcomb, and Terry Fox. Terry has moved out of the area now, and Eric Verden has joined us. It is SJL's hope, that Llewellin Setters will be as common to the valley as the many other great bird dogs that currently call the valley their home, and that acquiring a Llewellin Setter in the valley and surrounding areas will become much easier.
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