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Herman Mellenthin

Herman MellenthinInducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995
For contribution to the breed prior to 1950

Herman’s interest in dogs began as early as 7 years of age and continued until he died in March 1942 two months after judging Westminster. He attributed his early experience in horses for his success as a talented breeder and even before the event of Ch My Own Brucie, Herman had already earned his place in cocker history. His dogs set a pattern in all 3 Varieties of top winning dogs in both Bench and Field competitions and Ch My Own High Time was the very first cocker to win a Dual Championship.

In 1921 Herman made a trade for a bitch, acquiring Rees' Dolly whom he felt would click with a stud dog owned by Judge Townsend Scudder. Red Brucie, a dog who was an exaggeration of everything in a cocker spaniel, was the result of the mating. When an inquiry was made as to the selling price of Red Brucie, Herman already had a plan and remarked the dog was not for sale at any price. Red Brucie was shown a few times, collecting some points and honors but he was never seriously campaigned to a Championship title. Herman had his mind set on other goals he felt were of more importance. He wanted to breed the perfect cocker spaniel and his breeding decisions, along with the Red Brucie’s influence, would lead to the cocker of today.

Ch My Own Brucie, son of Red Brucie, was that once in a lifetime dog who grew up to fulfill every dream of Herman Mellenthin. Although My Own Brucie adored Herman no doubt he knew his destiny was to become a shining star. On rare occasions, as stars sometimes do, he liked to make his own decisions about how he would perform that day. Once Brucie decided… not even his beloved Herman could change his mind. Despite his occasional stubborn streak Brucie alongside Herman climbed a stairway to fame and glory and for the duo it was an easy climb. In 1938 he was Best American Bred Sporting Dog of the Year by the American Kennel Club, he won a group at Westminster 1939 and a Best in Show at Morris and Essex Kennel Club. By 1940, Herman and Brucie were becoming household names winning at every prestigious event and when he was judged to be “Best of the Best” at Westminster KC every home in America seemed to want a cocker spaniel like Brucie. After adding another Best In Show to his long list of accomplishments, (American Spaniel Club, 1941), Brucie and Herman returned once again to Westminster …..As the house lights dimmed and the ring spots came up, the team made their entrance. In a masterful display of his stylish skill, Mellenthin had removed the show lead and the merry cocker did the job on his own. Never missing a beat or a turn, the little dog held his head high, wagging his tail while gaiting effortlessly by his giant’s side. (Kerrin- Winter Churchill,” The Great Ones”, Dogs In Review, Feb/March 2003) Brucie is the only cocker spaniel in our breed history to win a Best In Show at Westminster twice. When Herman died, Brucie was purchased from the Mellenthin Estate by Herman’s close friends, the Garvan family of Dungarvan Kennels. The following year Brucie joined his beloved master and the New York Times, June 1943 carried his obituary that day.

Herman Mellenthin left behind a legacy of breed contributions that will never be erased and he did it all in such a short time of living. He was only 53 years old when he died.

Wilma Parker, Curator, ASC Archives

References:

The Complete Cocker Spaniel, Milo Denlinger,
The Cocker Spaniel, Ella Moffit,
The Cocker Spaniel, Ruth Kraeuchi,
Cocker Champions, Greer and Austin


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