Kennel Names and Copycats

Lately there seems to be an epidemic of people copying other breeders’ kennel names. I know of several people, including myself, who have had to deal with this lately. There are two others who are using my own kennel name of Woodhaven despite the fact I have been using it since 1974.  Please do not be fooled or deceived.  These people are NOT affiliated with us or our dogs.  Those aren't their Woodhaven Labs who show up in the OFA database. These people don't show or trial their dogs.  These people do NOT have true, original Woodhaven Labradors.  These people are not the ones referred to as "Woodhaven Labradors" in several Labrador Retriever books and magazines. 

One breeder I know of has used the kennel name, Upland Labradors, for many years. She recently found out someone else has recently taken that name. These people have only been in Labradors for a very short time. She was told, “They didn’t care” when she asked the other breeder to change their kennel name. Another I know of has been receiving phone calls from someone else who has claimed her kennel name for their own. The phone calls haven’t been nice. She had no choice but to change her name to something that AKC would register or be subject to these abusive calls for who knows how long.

My friend has been using the name of Windsong Labradors for 35+ years, yet someone relatively new to the breed took the name.  It doesn't matter that she has multiple champion Labradors with that kennel name nor that she has judged specialties and national specialties, someone wanted the name and took it saying she should have been more "visible".  One of her dogs won the National Specialty with that kennel name and that's not visibility?  She has been interviewed by the Labrador Quarterly and that's not being visible?  Where do these people get these ideas?  The copycat recently had a change of heart and switched to another name that she was able to register with AKC. 

Recently a well known breeder had her name hijacked.  Many noticed an ad in the Summer 2004 Labrador Quarterly for this person's kennel name, but it wasn't this well known breeder.  The hijacker put a space in between the letters so instead of Saltmeadow it was Salt Meadow.  Like that makes a difference?  Its still stealing someone else's name.

An example of what is outrageous in this whole stealing saga, I have learned that there someone that is using the Labrador kennel name of Sandy Lands!!!  Sandylands, started by Gwen Broadley in the UK, is a much beloved kennel.  That someone would use it is unbelievable.

I hear the excuse from those who have taken another name that the original person isn't in their state or others are using it too.  So what?  The name has already in use by someone who has been in the breed longer than you.  Be courteous and find something else to use.  Put yourself in their place.  You have bred many generations of champions under that name.  Would you appreciate someone coming along and taking your name and giving you those same excuses?  I doubt it.

Why is it that some new people feel they are entitled to do this? Ten, twenty or thirty years of using a name, having a history of using that name means nothing to them. My hopes for this article are to make someone think before they take something as personal as a kennel name from someone else who has been using it.

What's the importance of a kennel name? A kennel name is a trademark or brand name to a breeder. As one becomes more involved in the dog world your kennel name is usually recognized first before your actual given name is. A kennel name is sacred to the reputable breeder as one's reputation among your peers is based on that name and what you do with it. 

It is understood when one is thinking of naming dogs or starting a breeding program that you research to make sure you are not encroaching on someone else's name. With today's widespread use of the Internet and breed specific email lists there is no excuse to use someone else's name. For instance there are sites that have listings of Labrador kennels, Wiscoy Labradors . The owner of this list will list any reputable breeder and their kennel name - not just North American kennels, for a fee. That is one resource when deciding on what to call yourself.

Another resource is the AKC site. They have a search option to see if anyone has a dog that might be registered with the name you are thinking of using. If there are no hits when you search for a Labrador Retriever with that kennel name, then you're pretty safe on using it.

Ah, but the kennel name isn't officially registered with AKC so it can be used right?  Technically correct, but morally wrong. That doesn't mean that the name is up for grabs. Someone else is still using it, but hasn't registered it with AKC. You can tell yourself that it’s okay because of that reason so you can sleep at night, but reputable people do not do it.

There are numerous Labrador-related email lists with thousands of subscribers from all over the world. It would be quick and simple for a prospective breeder to subscribe to one or more lists, and ask about their proposed kennel name.

There is always the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) site where someone can put in part of a name (like a kennel name) and the breed and check to see if there is anyone doing clearances with that kennel name. As with the AKC site, if the search doesn't produce any names then you're probably okay to use it.

Lastly, do a Google search for the name you are considering. If you put in ***** Labradors *** Labs or **** Labrador Retrievers, if someone is using that kennel name it should show up. For instance, if you put in Woodhaven Labs or Woodhaven Labradors you get a lot of pages. That should be enough to tell you that the name is taken and its time to choose another.

If, by chance, you do choose one that you find out later is being used it’s common courtesy to apologize and then find another. As someone so wisely said "Kennel names are extremely important to us and are used quite often as a way to link a dog with a certain breeding program and when it is used by more than one person, it can be confusing. Anyone wanting to build a reputation for breeding quality dogs would NEVER use another's kennel name - especially a kennel name with a long established reputation. It appears to people as if that person is trying to use the reputation associated with that kennel for their benefit to sell puppies."

I think its time that we as breeders start standing up for each other.  If we know that someone is using someone else's kennel name, call them on it.  We can let them know, without being belligerent, that we will not have anything to do with them unless they change their kennel name to something that isn't being used.  We won't sell them puppies or allow them to use our stud dogs, unless they change their kennel names to something that isn't being used.  That they are not entitled to steal someone's name.  Its happening way too often and it needs to stop.  What is next?  Someone here in the USA will start using Ballyduff or Sandylands?  Ridiculous you say?  Just wait until it happens to you and we'll see how you like it.  As more and more new people come into the breed, not caring about those who came before, it WILL happen to you.  Count on it.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Those that can, do. Those that can't, copy from someone else, I guess.



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