Mayo Kellogg, American Pioneer – A lesson in Labrador History

By Derby Tom Suszczewicz

The anti-dilute Lab movement focuses on the few breeders that pioneered our dilute Labrador Retriever. Culo Kennels and Beavercreek are credited with bringing the Silver Lab out of the shadows and preserving the lines that we all have today. In fact, there are just 8 separate confirmed dilute Labrador origin lines(a topic for later discussion), most of which stem from these two programs. Another breeder takes much of the heat for Silver Labs even being in existence, the focus of today’s topic: Mayo Kellogg. Mr. Kellogg is often falsely accused of using the Weimaraner to get both his dilute and pointing Lab lines established. No stranger to controversy, he was a pioneer for not just pointing Labs. In the 1960’s Kellogg Kennels were among the first breeders to popularize the Chocolate Lab. Kellygreen and Keepsake are credited for the foundation of the modern Fox Red Lab, but the Fox Red Pointing Labrador Retriever is credited to Mayo Kellogg.

Kellogg Kennels was founded in 1899, and are recognized as the first kennel to bring the Lab West of the Mississippi. Mayo noticed pointing tendencies in his South Dakota line as early as 1946 and set out to refine the type. He bred a dog that was driven, stylish and had greater intensity on birds. Pointing tendencies and the ability to hold the tail high made the dog easier to see in thick cover, and allowed the dog to communicate with the hunter. While many accused Kellogg of outcrossing lines with other breeds, he maintained that this was not a sensible approach, but rather selectively bred from lines that were established by English game keepers who had already introduced Setters and Pointers to the stock.

The anti-dilute crowd will have you believe that the Kelloggs were unscrupulous businessmen, looking only to jump on popular trends to capitalize on a growing market. The fact is, The American Free Spirit made them both inventive and innovative. Mayo Kellogg was a true maverick that understood what the American hunter wanted, and needed. He was a breeder with vision and heart. Without his efforts, America’s favorite gun dog would not be what it is today.