The Breeding Program of Northwoods Bird Dogs
While a great dog can come from anywhere, consistently top-notch dogs come from breeders with a vision and a plan. Jerry Kolter and Betsy Danielson from Northwoods Bird Dogs are now producing their sixth generation of English setters and fourth generation of pointers. This depth of knowledge enables them to make wise, comprehensive breeding decisions, resulting in puppies with predictable, desirable traits.
Jerry and Betsy owned English setters and pointers for nine years before deciding to breed. In 1995, they planned their first setter litter on a strung hunch. They had such success that they bred another litter of setters in 1996, followed by a 1997 pointer litter.
From the beginning, Betsy and Jerry have continuously and comprehensively evaluated dogs. They were never impressed by pedigrees and titles; rather they felt it imperative to see dogs and to appraise them personally for temperament, conformation, talent and instinct.
In the ensuing years, Northwoods Bird Dogs has reasons to be proud of their success.
• Many prominent breeders have incorporated Northwoods Bird Dogs setters into their breeding programs.
• Setters and pointers from Northwoods Bird Dogs have placed or won championships in virtually every venue—whether grouse, horseback or AKC.
• Setters and pointers from Northwoods Bird Dogs are used by professional grouse hunting guides and exclusive lodges.
Perhaps most satisfying to them is the knowledge that their puppies have found homes with some of the most passionate and discriminating grouse hunters in the country.Kennel Breeding
The breeding program of Northwoods Bird Dogs is actually “kennel breeding,” which focuses on breeding dogs in Jerry and Betsy’s kennel. They know many generations of their dogs and are intimately familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. They use selective line breeding and outcrosses when necessary.
Jerry and Betsy believe that a strong breeding program starts with the female. They use only high quality, talented, personable dogs that have been evaluated extensively on ruffed grouse and other wild birds. The females are trained and as adults are hunted, used in guiding operations or competed in field trials.Foundation Dogs/Setters
There are four dogs that form the foundation of English setters from Northwoods Bird Dogs.
Finder’s Keeper (1991- 2000) was a chestnut-and-white female that was early maturing and easy handling with incredible instinct around game. She was also a talented bird finder and a natural retriever. She descended from prepotent males CH Grouse Ridge Will, Long Gone Sam and Grouse Ridge Smokey.
Keeper’s first litter was by Spring Garden Tollway (1986 – 2001). Tollway was a specimen. His evenly marked black-and-white head was perfectly shaped with a sharp stop and his dark eyes were keen with intelligence. He had endurance, ideal conformation and extreme desire to find game. Tollway was a grandson of hall-of-fame setter, CH Tomoka. (Interestingly, Tollway’s dam was a litter sister to Houston.)
Keeper’s second litter was sired by CH First Rate, a shooting dog from New England. First Rate was a good-sized dog known for his bird-finding ability and composure around game.
Houston (1982 – 1991) reflected an older type of setter from the 1970s and earlier. Houston was a strong bird finder, had extreme loftiness on point and a smooth, effortless gait. He was line bred by Leroy Peterson, Paul Hauge and Jack LeClair to Wonsover Smokey Rebel, son of Grouse Ridge Smokey.Foundation Dogs/Pointers
There are two dogs that form the foundation of pointers from Northwoods Bird Dogs.
CH Dance Smartly (1991 – 1999) was out of the best pointer bloodlines in the country at the time. She was a granddaughter of CH Pork Roll through her sire CH Northern Dancer and out of a double granddaughter of CH Guard Rail through her dam, CH Vanidestine’s Rail Lady. Dancer was a natural, extremely talented grouse dog that exuded athleticism and intelligence.
CH Westfall’s Black Ice (whelped 2003) is a multiple champion field trial dog known for his strong bird-finding ability and breathtaking style on point. He is a product of an outstanding nick between CH Rock Acre Blackhawk and Elhew Katie Lee. Through his dam, Ice continues the influence of CH Elhew Strike through his sons CH Elhew Snakefoot and Elhew Mr. McGoo. Ice’s sire, Blackhawk, was a tough, Texas quail dog with a reputation for finding birds. Blackhawk is a prepotent sire and has produced some of the top field trial dogs in the country.The Ideals of Northwoods Bird Dogs
For many years, puppy buyers and other clients had asked Northwoods Bird Dogs about their dogs. What is their ideal bird dog? What is their standard?
To start, Jerry and Betsy believe that both physical characteristics and mental characteristics are important aspects. They had developed other ideas over the years and turned to Robert Wehle, founder Elhew Kennels and breeder of the legendary Elhew Pointers, for further inspiration.*Ideal Characteristics/Physical
Northwoods Bird Dogs want dogs that are attractive, strong and athletic and healthy. They prefer males in the 50-lb. range and females in the 40-lb. range. For English setters, a light, smooth, silky coat is preferred.
• square, balanced head with dark eyes, nose and medium-length ears
• head should be marked and the body either white or with a spot
• long neck and smooth shoulders with angular blades that are well laid back
• front legs should be straight with a deep chest (as opposed to wide)
• back should be slightly arched and have strong, developed loins
• well-tucked stomach
• well-angulated hind legs
• hind quarters should be square and straight with a slight slope to the tail set
• tail should be set and carried high
• gait should be square, smooth and effortless
• carriage should be lofty and balanced between front and rear assembliesIdeal Characteristics/Mental
Northwoods Bird Dogs breeds for intelligence, desire, instinct and persistence. Jerry and Betsy strive for dogs that are early maturing and posses a bold, positive attitude. In addition, dogs should have acute senses of smell, sight and hearing and natural senses of direction.
Finally, dogs from Northwoods Bird Dogs must have excellent temperaments. They should be calm and content in the home or the kennel but hunt with gusto and zeal in the field.
* Many ideas were taken by the booklet, Elhew Pointers, by Robert G. Wehle, published in 1960.