Who Have been the Whippet Breeding Shearer Sisters?


Within the early days of organized canine reveals, many breeders have been additionally horse individuals. You possibly can nonetheless really feel the tug of their reins in virtually all of the breed requirements, which use equine phrases to explain canine anatomy, akin to “withers” as an alternative of “shoulders” and “hock” slightly than “ankle.”

Maybe predictably, a few of these early “doggy” horse individuals achieved the best ranges of competitors with each kinds of animals. For instance, Marie Moore, the Mastiff doyenne who helped re-establish the breed in America within the aftermath of World Conflict II, owned the well-known Gallorette. Voted the best filly in American racing historical past in her day, the chestnut dynamo routinely beat the colts she ran in opposition to.

Two Whippet-Loving Sisters

Much more enmeshed within the horse scene have been fellow Virginians Julia and Judith Shearer of the well-known Meander kennel, which they based in 1928. The 2 sisters weren’t solely influential in creating what was once referred to as the “American-style” Whippet, however in addition they have been extraordinarily profitable breeding and racing thoroughbred horses, which predated the canines by at the least a decade.

The Shearer sisters lived in an 18th-Century mansion in Locust Dale, Virginia, owned and maintained by their attorney-father, the light outlines of the Blue Ridge Mountains seen within the distance. The previous plantation was a sort of sanctuary for the slightly reclusive sisters, who lived there till their deaths within the early 1970s. There, in addition they bred Corgis and Beagles, maintained their very own pack of Foxhounds, and raised prize Aberdeen Angus cattle and hogs. But it surely was their Whippets and their racehorses for which they have been greatest recognized.

From the Horse Monitor to the Present Ring

Of the 2, Julia Shearer was most concerned in equine pursuits, although each sisters have been judges at horse in addition to canine reveals. (Although they most well-liked to simply accept assignments near residence, Julia did enterprise throughout the pond to guage Whippets in England.) Racing information present that her Virginia bloodstock horses have been as profitable on the racing monitor because the Meander Whippets have been within the canine present ring.

“As I write, particulars simply at hand from [the Shearers] inform me that one of many yearlings they bred and bought in 1958 developed into among the best two-year-olds in the USA,” wrote Charles Henry Douglas Todd in “The Well-liked Whippet,” printed in 1961. “He gained six races, 5 of them Stakes, and was second thrice, twice in Stakes, and gained over 181,000 {dollars}.”

That unnamed Meander horse apparently wasn’t a fluke. One other horse bred by Julia Shearer referred to as Umbrella Fella gained a number of high-profile races as a 2-year-old within the mid-1960s, together with the Joliet Stakes, the Kentucky Jockey Membership Stakes, the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes, and the Arch Ward Stakes. His profession earnings have been near $240,000 – virtually $2 million in at this time’s {dollars}.

Making Their Title within the Whippet World

The Meanders sisters started in Whippets with their acquisition of the slightly inelegantly named Milk of Magnesia. However a profitable breeding pair later put them on the map: The feminine was Ch. Syndicate, whose English-bred mom was Ch. Towyside Teasle, the primary Greatest in Present-winning Whippet in America. The male, an import from the UK named Sandbrilliant, was Better of Breed on the first-ever American Whippet Membership specialty in 1931. The sisters added their kennel imprimatur to each canines by tacking “of Meander” to every of their registered names.

The union of Syndicate and Sandbrilliant was not solely sibilant – simply say their names aloud – but in addition vastly profitable, leading to a powerful 15 champions. Essentially the most memorable and influential of them was with out query Ch. Mica of Meander, who was used because the template for the American Kennel Membership Whippet normal when it was revised in 1944.

In his historical past of the Shearers for the American Whippet Membership, breed professional and creator Bo Bengtson notes that the sisters had bailed the membership out of economic difficulties in the course of the Melancholy, “and from that time nearly ‘owned’ the membership till after the struggle.” Mica was emblematic of their desire for a taller, leggier Whippet, which gave their canines a bonus among the many extra restrained English-style canines that had predominated in rings up till then.

What Made a Meander Whippet?

“Most Meander Whippets have been true English-type Greyhounds in miniature, overlaying a lot floor with a reasonable well-muscled arch over the loin,” explains Louis Pegram in “The Full Whippet,” printed in 1976, including that the sisters most well-liked darkish eyes and stable colours akin to yellow, pink and fawn.

“Heads have been usually Greyhound in look with nice size of muzzle and power of chunk. Toes have been well-knuckled and good size of leg, sturdy pasterns, and rear angulation giving the looks of power and drive. Nearly all had lengthy, free attain from the shoulder, with hackney gait the uncommon exception.”

Measurement was one other differentiator for Meander Whippets.

“The Shearers preferred large canines – with them, it was ‘the larger, the higher,’” remembered the late Whippet breeder and decide Doris Put on, whose equally well-known Stoney Meadows kennel was based mostly on Meander canines, as have been different influential kennels of the 1960s and ’70s, together with Eyleland, Lazeland, and Whipoo. “They have been very giraffe-y canines.”

Inevitably, Meander’s stranglehold on the breed loosened with the arrival of the Mardormere kennel on Lengthy Island within the 1940s: Refined and chic in comparison with the Meander canines, with higher rear quarters, the Mardormere line nonetheless had the identical benefit as its Virginia counterpart: Each the Shearers and Marjorie Anderson of Mardormere had the monetary sources to provide each nice amount and high quality, deciding on solely the perfect Whippets to point out and breed.

Who Wants Marriage?

Even because the canine world modified round them, the Shearer sisters caught with their Whippets – and with one another. Retired handler and well-known Basenji breeder Damara Bolté of Leesburg, Virginia, remembers that Julia, the extra enticing of the 2, had acquired a wedding proposal, however had countered that she and her sister have been a package deal deal; presumably, in gentle of these non-negotiable phrases, the potential fiancé reconsidered.

The sisters went on to dwell a life that was for, with, and about their canines: Within the four-plus a long time till their deaths in 1973, Julia and Judith Shearer produced greater than 150 Whippet litters and greater than 50 champions, with their final prime winner the influential stud canine Ch. Meander Bob White. Bolté remembers the rope within the parlor that ran from an armchair as much as the ceiling, throughout the room, after which right down to a guillotine door that related to the kennel. When the Shearers wished to go to with a few of their Whippets, they wanted solely to tug the rope, carry the door, and admit them.

The Meander Plantation Immediately

Immediately, the large white home the place a lot Whippet historical past was made is a rustic lodge referred to as The Inn at Meander Plantation. The various historic figures who slept or at the least visited there – together with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Basic Lafayette – have lodging named after them, as do the Whippet-loving sisters: The 2-room Shearer suite is devoted to the reminiscence of their “style and refinement.”

Interested by extra AKC historical past? Examine Sunny Shay and her Afghan Hounds.


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